Biology Anecdotes Essay Assignment Paper

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 Biology Anecdotes Essay Assignment Paper




Watch the video titled “Anecdotes” at <>. Explain how anecdotal evidence about

alternative medicine can lead you astray:

Activity 3: Evaluate the Scenarios

As you read the following three scenarios, look for examples of “dirty data”: anecdotes or testimonials, potential

regression to the mean, the use of multiple treatments at once, confirmation bias, and the placebo effect. Underline

the portions of the story that describe these types of dirty data and mark them with the following abbreviations:


AT = anecdotes and testimonials

RM = regression to the mean

MT = multiple treatments

CB = confirmation bias

PE = placebo effect



Scenario1 – A Pain in the Knee

Last year, Michelle tore her ACL during soccer practice. She had surgery to repair it and is back playing this season.

After a particularly rough game, her knee started to swell up more than normal and she was limping. The athletic

trainer gave her some ice and suggested she rest for tomorrow’s practice to see if the swelling would go down. As she

was icing her knee in the training room, her friend Diego, who ran cross-country, came in.


“Hey, Michelle. how’s the knee?” asked Diego.


“Meh,” replied Michelle. “It just started swelling and hurting randomly after our game. I really hope I didn’t re-injure it.

There’s a big tournament this weekend, and I gotta play.”


“Hey, I had some knee trouble a few years ago and acupuncture cleared it right up. You should totally try it. I’m afraid

of needles, but if I didn’t watch, it was fine – it didn’t hurt. I would walk out of the appointment and my knee would

immediately feel better.”


“Maybe, thanks,” responded Michelle.


As she sat in the training room with ice on her knee, she was feeling desperate. “I can’t just sit around and rest,” she

thought to herself. “I need to do something to help my knee. I’m gonna search for a way to get an acupuncture

appointment quickly.” She pulled out her laptop and started searching online for an acupuncture clinic nearby.


Scenario 2 – The Power of Touch

Maria’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago. Luckily, it was caught early, but the tumor was aggressive and, with the doctor’s advice, her mom was undergoing chemotherapy. Last week, her mom came down with

a high fever. Because her immune system was compromised from chemotherapy, it is standard procedure to admit

chemotherapy patients with fevers to the hospital to administer antibiotics if needed and monitor their health. Maria’s

mom was admitted for treatment.


Maria stopped by to see her mom in her hospital room after class. She was looking better, sitting up in bed, and

reading a book.


“Hi, Mom, how are you feeling?” asked Maria, as she washed her hands and put on a mask to be sure not to infect her

mom further.


“Oh, pretty good, sweetie-pie. I’ve been pretty tired and run down, but yesterday I had some therapeutic touch and it

really energized me. The therapist is going to stop by this afternoon, too,” remarked her mother, Isamar.


“Therapeutic touch?” asked Maria.


“It sounds kind of crazy, but they just kind of wave their hands around me. The therapist said that she could sense the

negative energy from the infection and the cancer and was moving it around. After she left, I felt so light and I wasn’t

tired anymore.”


“Okay. I have some studying to do. Do you mind if I hang out in your room and keep you company, too?”


“Sounds great, sweetie-pie.”

After about an hour and a few study breaks later, a nurse walked into the room. “Good afternoon, Isamar. You are

looking in good spirits today! Is this your daughter?”


“Oh, hi, Nurse Hathaway. Maria, this is Nurse Hathaway, my therapeutic touch practitioner.”


“Hi, Nurse Hathaway. My mom said you helped her feel a lot better. Thanks so much for all you’re doing!”


“Of course, I’m back today to do a little more therapeutic touch and help your mom fight off this bug.”


Nurse Hathaway started rearranging some things in the room and Maria went back to studying, glancing up every

once in a while to see what was going on. After a few minutes the nurse started holding her hands a few inches above

her mom’s body and closed her eyes. She seemed to glide her hands over the surface of the hospital gown, but never

quite touched her mother. Maria watched intrigued. How on earth could this help her mother? Nurse Hathaway

doesn’t even touch her. Maria pulled out her laptop and starting searching for information on Therapeutic Touch.


Scenario 3 – It’s Magnetic

The basketball team has been volunteering with Elder Helpers, a food delivery service for homebound seniors for a

couple years. Blake, a player on the team, had developed a friendship with one of the homebound seniors, Robert.

Robert was a big basketball fan and Blake and he would chat about the sport while Blake made sure Robert had the

food set up within reach. Robert suffered from diabetic neuropathy in his right foot and couldn’t walk easily. This past

Friday when Blake delivered Robert’s food, he found Robert shuffling around in the living room.


“Hey, Robert, what are you doing on your feet?” Blake rushed over to give a hand.


“Oh, I have these new magnetic insoles that my granddaughter bought for me and my foot doesn’t hurt as much when

I walk ever since I started wearing them. I was just going to get my reading glasses—I left them on the kitchen table.”


Blake walked over to offer support nonetheless. “How about last night’s game?” he casually switched the conversation

to basketball, but made note to look into these magnetic insoles. He didn’t want Robert to fall. He really shouldn’t

be walking too much when he’s alone. Blake put it on his mental to-do list for later. He would look up magnetic

therapy tonight.


Part II

Evidence-based medicine aims to provide recommendations for prevention and treatment of various conditions

based on scientific evidence or, using a term from the first video that you watched, “clean data.” Scientific evidence is

collected through various types of studies that involve humans, animals, or cells. Scientific studies generate objective

evidence by using proper controls for comparison, selecting a nonbiased population, collecting evidence as objectively

as possible, and utilizing peer review. Even when scientific studies are done as scientifically as possible, they still differ

in the quality, consistency, reliability, or credibility of evidence produced.


Generally, the gold standard of evidence lies in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials that can provide

evidence on how an intervention causes changes in health. However, evidence related to human health and disease

comes from other types of studies, too. These other types of studies provide evidence that is sometimes based on correlation or may not be directly translated into health interventions but instead serve as preliminary evidence to pursue with additional research. Often, multiple studies contribute evidence that then leads to health recommendations. In order to differentiate between scientific evidence and pseudoscientific information, let’s learn more about the different scientific approaches to studying human health.


Activity 4: Describe the Methods

Watch this video, <>, to learn about the types of study designs that collect evidence

about human health. After watching the video, fill in information in Table 1 in the column entitled

General Name Specific Name Description of Method
Review &




Clinical Trial (Randomized Controlled Trial)
Animal & In Vitro Studies


Cohort Study
Case-Control Study
Cross-sectional survey/Population Studies
Case Studies

“Description of Method.”

Activity 6: Determine the Study Type

In order to further explore study design, read the excerpts of the four study designs below and then follow the dichotomous key (see Figure 1) to identify which type of study is being utilized.


Study #1

70 patients with active arthritis symptoms each wore four different bracelet devices over a five-month period, reporting

on their pain, disability, and medication use throughout the study. One bracelet was demagnetized and the other three

were made of different magnetized metal components. Participants also provided blood samples at the beginning of

the study and after wearing each device for five weeks, in order to monitor changes in inflammation. The sequence

of the four devices was random in order. The individuals analyzing the blood samples were blind as to which device

corresponded to the blood samples.

Type: __________________________


Study #2

Researchers asked 35,016 postmenopausal women who did not have a history of breast cancer to complete a 24-page

questionnaire about their use of non-vitamin, non-mineral “specialty” supplements. After six years of follow-up, 880

cases of breast cancer were identified.

Type: __________________________


Study #3

Researchers tracked antibiotic prescriptions for 170,504 people who had Type 2 diabetes and for 1.3 million people

who did not have diabetes. Th e researchers identified the subjects using records from three national health registries in


Type: __________________________


Study #4

The Danish study includes 52,061 subjects, aged 50–65 years, from the two main cities of Aarhus and Copenhagen, who

participated in the study called Diet, Cancer and Health. From 1993–97, they reported on their physical leisure activities,

including sports, cycling to/from work and, in their leisure time, gardening and walking each year. The researchers

then estimated air pollution levels from traffic at their residential addresses.

Type: __________________________




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