Bill Harvey: L’elite

For those sceptics, do you want more evidence-based science for ophthalmology?

I would not consider myself a cynic. Far from it. However, over the years, I have learned to question much of what is presented as fact and would suggest that, in this post-truth age, this is more important than ever.

I was the one at school who dashed to the library to check on the fact that the word ‘gullible’ could not be found in any standard English dictionary. More embarrassingly, I was the one who, at some late night student event at Aston, totally believed the advice that flicking cigarette ash in your drink made the alcohol more easily absorbed by the gut. No wonder I immediately lapped up my favourite Vic Reeves fact; that 97.624% of statistics cannot be trusted.

Perhaps we should not be too precious when hearing how many people felt a certain type of skin cream given to them for free was better than a previous one. We should, however, be concerned when the transport secretary does a live interview about pay levels and clearly does not see a difference between mean and median. If a thousand people in a town each earn £10k a year, that would be both the median and the mean pay. When Elon Musk moves in to town, the median stays the same but the mean pay will rocket. And this does encroach upon eye care too. Only recently, I was made aware of some ‘interesting’ analysis, published widely, implying eye health benefits from nutrition that are difficult to justify on further examination.

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