Biology Critical Thinking Questions

Biology Critical Thinking Questions-83
In June 2014, researchers at Facebook published the results of an experiment conducted in 2012.

In June 2014, researchers at Facebook published the results of an experiment conducted in 2012.

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But experiments may not be feasible for some questions; for example, questions about processes that occur at large spatial or temporal scales.

Why do more species of birds live in the tropics than at higher latitudes?

If there were such bias, we couldn’t confidently attribute any difference in outcome to the difference in treatments that the subjects received because the treatments would be confounded with the source of bias.

For an example of unconscious bias, suppose researchers assigned the first 25 volunteers to the new drug and the next 25 to the standard psoriasis treatment.

This eliminates another potential source of bias: if the researchers wanted to show that the new drug was more effective, and if they knew which subjects got the new drug, they might be tempted to minimize the symptoms in their evaluation of these subjects.

Experiments are considered the gold standard for research because they can give relatively unambiguous answers to scientific questions, including questions of practical importance like how best to treat a certain disease.For control groups, posts were randomly removed from News Feed streams.The researchers then assessed whether these treatments were associated with changes in use of positive and negative words in subsequent posts sent by the subjects of the experiment.Experiments may also raise ethical questions, as illustrated by the 2014-2016 epidemic of Ebola in West Africa.Ebola is extremely contagious and this epidemic killed 11,000 people, about 40% of those infected.The Facebook and Ok Cupid experiments were also randomized, controlled trials, except that subjects didn’t volunteer to participate.The main purpose of randomly assigning treatments to volunteers in medical experiments is to protect against conscious and unconscious bias.I learned this story from new research about attitudes of people toward experimentation, so I decided to provide some background about the role of experiments in science and then describe this new research.I’ll return to the Facebook and Ok Cupid experiments at the end.Several potential vaccines were under development when the epidemic began, but none had been rigorously tested for efficacy.How do you design a randomized, controlled trial of a vaccination that might, or might not, save individuals from bleeding to death within a few weeks after symptoms first appear?


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