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Statistics explained with poetry

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

“Regression to the mean” is the science-y way of saying that things just get better eventually. Here’s a poem about it:

If something varies normally between two far extremes,
It usually swings back naturally to values in between.

And two minutes more of that. Back pain gets a mention. RttM is indeed the major-est of ways that people are fooled into thinking a treatment worked, when in fact they just “swung back naturally the values in between.”

For a much more detailed discussion of this topic, see The Power of Barking: Correlation, causation, and how we decide what treatments work: A silly metaphor for a serious point about the confounding power of coincidental and inevitable healing, and why we struggle to interpret our own recovery experiences.

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