Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Not quite what it seems - logical fallacy headline


This quote taken from here.

Spiritual Beliefs, Practices May Help Smokers Quit


Seems pretty unambiguous doesn't it. Hang on what does "may" mean.

It could mean that such things help some but not all.

It might mean that we are not sure if it helps or not because the effect is on the edge of detectability. But this would make the headline rather optimistic wouldn't it? I mean does it work or not?

If you read the press release for this (I have not read the full paper) you will discover that it was neither of the above! They haven't done any work at all on the effectiveness of Spiritual Beliefs and Practices helping smokers quit at all.

What they did was ask people if they wanted it or would be receptive to it.


. . . mainstream smoking cessation programs generally exclude spiritual practice and beliefs from the treatment process. But a study by Oregon Health & Science University Smoking Cessation Center researchers reveals many smokers are receptive to and may benefit from their own spiritual resources, when attempting to quit.

. . . reported that in addition to the treatments provided by the team, they used personal spiritual beliefs and practices in their quit attempts.

This led the team to question why spiritual resources were not part of mainstream tobacco dependence treatment programs.


Now I don't know about you but the main thing here is - does it work or not? What is the evidence.

I want my professional healthcare to be provided on the basis of if it works or not and not if its something I fancy.


“We know that smoking cessation medications coupled with behavioral interventions increase quit rates, but quitting is still difficult and some smokers need more support in order to quit successfully. We may be missing opportunities to assist these smokers.”


But we may not, we don't know.


“Our findings suggest that although not all clinicians want to talk about spirituality with their patients, those who do feel comfortable doing so will likely find most patients who smoke are receptive. Asking smoking patients if they have a spiritual practice or belief may be important to their care,” Gonzales explained.


But it may not, we don't know.

This bit I do agree with;

Further investigation and program development on how to include spirituality in mainstream tobacco dependence treatment is warranted, he and his team concluded.


Yes find out!

But not like this;

The anonymous surveys included questions about smoking behaviors, and spiritual practices and beliefs.

Of the 104 participants, 92 had some history of using spiritual resources, and of those, 78 percent believed that using those resources when making a quit attempt could be helpful. Seventy-seven percent believed having treatment staff encourage the use of spiritual resources to help them quit could be beneficial.


Hello - evidence?

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