[Ninja Rant] The problem with science, scientists, university publicity departments and Lyme disease.

I just had to get this out of my system. MR

This kind of baloney makes my blood boil. Here is the lede from the University of Toronto’s  media relation machine, whose sole purpose, by the way, is to get media “hits.”

“New research from the University of Toronto Mississauga definitively puts to rest a theory that Lyme disease causes Alzheimer’s.”

Except, of course the study comes no where near the definitive proof that the headline claims. The study is a simple statistical analyses showing inverse correlation between Lyme and Alzheimer’s.

Correlation is definitive? Is that what they teach these days at the University of Toronto? I don’t think so.

“Statistical analyses revealed a complete lack of correlation between the two diseases, strongly suggesting that Lyme disease could not be the cause Alzheimer’s,” O’Day said.

“Strongly suggests” = “Definitively puts to rest”  Care to wager a year’s retirement salary Dr. O’Day?

But it gets better. Even O’Day’s own study shows there is a positive correlation in Vermont. Is Dr. O’Day curious about the Vermont Paradox? If he is, he doesn’t mention it. He offers no explanation. See, the nice thing about statistics is that you get to throw away messy numbers that don’t fit your model. Convenient, no?

Lastly, O’Day’s data source is from the same folks who quietly upped their estimate of Lyme disease cases from 30,000 to 300,000 in one year. Yup, that would be the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The more I read the more this study smells like garbage in garbage out.