A Primer on Scientific Testing

In comments recently there has been a discussion about such things as double blind testing. I’ve recently been listening to back issues of the Skeptoid podcast, and as it happens, Episode 13 is entitled ‘A Primer on Scientific Testing’. This is a good, basic and quick overview. It’s only about seven minutes long and the 7.5MB MP3 is here.

In addition to covering single and double blinded tests, it discusses triple blinded (the people analysing the results don’t know which subjects received the ‘real’ or placebo experience or product being tested) and peer review.

If you’re into skeptical thinking, it’s worth listening to these Skeptoid podcasts, which are produced by Brian Dunning. I listen to a lot of skeptical stuff, and much of infuriates me from time to time, simply because the podcasters clearly have no understanding of economics. I’m not saying that you have to be a master of econometrics and be able to model international trade (such models are likely even less reliable than climate ones), but have a general sense of how people do actually respond to costs and benefits.

His podcast on the peak oil scare (issued in early 2008, when the price of oil was still ridiculously high, and well before the recent batch of news in which massive reserves of oil and gas are being found all over the world whenever someone pokes a stick in the ground) puts that understanding to good use. It’s here (7MB).

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