Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Comments by Grattitude

Showing 2 of 2 comments.

  • “Likes,” retweets and “faves” are among the rare instances of direct, immediate feedback on our thoughts and feelings. They allow us to tailor what we say to please or displease a particular audience, that subset of internet users that sees our posts. That includes those who follow us, and those who read the comments on articles on which we leave comments, published on the sites to which our interests draw us.

    When we mistake our online fans and foes for the world at large, we believe that our thoughts and feelings will be more or less welcomed, outside a narrow online milieu, than they really are.

    Is the alleged rise of offline extremism due, in some part, to the feedback of a limited and selected number of followers, Facebook friends, and fellow commenters on special-interest web sites?

    (Is there a rise in offline extremism? We only know what the media, online and off, tell us.)

  • For some reason, I’ve been unable to place a longer comment here in which I report the New England Journal of Medicine’s (NEJM) failure to correct a misstatement about the number of suicides uncovered in a 2009 FDA meta-analysis of unpublished antidepressant studies.

    NEJM ran a column in 2014 in which Dr. Richard Friedman, psychiatrist and New York Times columnist, claimed there were no suicides reported in the meta-analysis. (Stone et al., 2009, in BMJ). There were eight, with an odds ratio of 2.1 that characterized an association of completed suicide with antidepressant use that narrowly missed statistical significance. (The confidence interval, .41 to 10.99, left little chance that the actual odds ratio was below 1.0).

    I notified the journal, by email, of the mistake and of a second one, which was an incorrect citation for the misstatement made by Dr. Friedman. My corrections were acknowledged by email, but have not been published. Dr. Friedman made the same misstatement in the New York Times in 2015. That publication published my correction.

    (It’s the software that runs this site, not an editor, that’s preventing my full comment from appearing here on MIA. Here’s hoping this one makes it through.)