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Ultrasound citation backfire

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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.

While writing about bogus citations lately, I got a fine example of one in my inbox.

I take constructive criticism seriously, but sometimes it’s difficult to tell which criticisms are actually worth paying attention to. In this case, the absence of citations in the initial email was probably enough of a clue that I didn’t really need to inquire further. But I did, and the result was amusingly lame …

POSSIBLY CREDIBLE CRITIC: You’re too negative about therapeutic ultrasound. I’m writing a book about it. I know there’s a lot of bad science, but there’s good science too, and you’re not citing it. You’re just cherry picking the negative studies. There are tons of good studies showing that it accelerates healing. It’s all about using the right settings. [No citations.]

ME: Okay, fine, but citation needed. Have you got 3 persuasive trials of US for bone healing?

PCC: Here’s one on tendon healing.

ME [After reading]: I don’t think that study says what you think it says. It’s one small uncontrolled study that shows that ultrasound actually impairs tendon healing or, at best — with “less wrong” settings — is no better than early mobilization. That’s not good news. That’s not even a positive study, let alone a persuasive one.

“The backfire” bogus citation strikes again!

PCC: I’m sorry you don’t understand high-level research.

🤣 Who calls a crappy little trial “high-level research”? A cluessless troll, that’s who (one who is writing a book about ultrasound, apparently). I tried to find this study again, so that keen readers could audit my take on it, but unfortunately the email is nowhere to be found, like so much email (despite supposedly having complete archives). No great loss in this case.

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