Re: Vaccine efficacy

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Mon Feb 07 2000 - 15:54:45 MST

Hal Finney writes:
> > >
> > did you notice that the US death rate doesn't seem to fall any
> > faster after the major medical events the graph indicates?
>While this is true, it is still possible that the medical advances were
>necessary for the decline to continue. We could draw an analogy with
>Moore's Law. The introduction of integrated circuits, and later of very
>large scale integration, did not increase the rate of improvement in
>electronic densities. Moore's Law has been roughly constant for many
>decades. But we would not conclude that the various advances played
>no part in the improvement; rather, they were a necessary element in
>continuing the improvement. ...

I agree that a smooth overall mortality drop does not by itself
exclude the possibility that medicine had a big influence. But the
finer grain our analysis, the more a lack of correlation between
medical advances and mortality argues against the importance of medicine.

So when a time series of deaths from a certain illness doesn't seem
to show a substantial effect due to the supposed breakthrough treatment
for that illness, that seems to be evidence against medicine. This
lack of time series effect seems to apply for these diseases and
treatments: TB/Izoniazid, Pheomonia/Sulphonomide, Diptheria/Toxoid,
Influenze/Vaccine, and Whooping Cough/Vaccine.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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