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The Potemkin Argument: Index
The Potemkin argument is my public peer review of Scott Alexander’s essay on ivermectin. In this series of posts, I go through that essay in detail, working through the various claims made and examining their validity. My essays will follow the structure of Scott’s essay, structured in four primary units, with additional material to follow:
Part 1: Introduction (TBC)
The first substantial part of the essay is Scott’s analysis of a subset of the ivermectin studies, taking up over half of the word-count of the entire essay. I go through his commentary in detail:
Part 3 - The deeply flawed portrayal of Dr. Flavio Cadegiani.
Part 4 - The equally false portrayal of the Biber et al. study, built on flawed claims by Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz.
Part 5 - Another near-identical pattern of false portrayal took place with Babalola et al.
Part 6 - The statistical methods of Dr. John Carlisle (studies: Cadegiani et al. (again), Elafy et al., and Ghauri et al.).
Part 7 - Statistical power (studies: Mohan et al., Ahmed et al., Chaccour et al., Buonfrate et al.).
Part 8 - Synthetic control groups (studies: Cadegiani et al. (again!), Borody et al.).
Part 9 - Observational studies (studies: Merino et al., Mayer et al., and Chahla et al.).
Part 10 - Discussing the Lopez-Medina trial.
Part 11 - Discussing the TOGETHER trial in comparison with the infamous Carvallo trial.
Part 12 - The Krolewiecki research program.
Part 13 - Wrapping up the study review and extracting the implied criteria.
Part 14 - We get into the meta-analysis part of the essay, and possibly the deepest flaw of them all
I have previously written two essays that are summarized in part 14. I don’t really recommend spending time on these, but if somehow you still want bonus material feel free to read “Scott Alexander's Correction on Ivermectin, and its Meaning for the Rationalist Project.” and “Scott Alexandriad III: Driving up the Cost of Critique.”
Part 16 - How the perfect meme was delivered to the masses
Part 17 - Funnel Plots and all that can go wrong with them
I’ve now also distilled many of the core issues into a single essay:
Scott Alexander has continued the conversation in fragments of later articles. I am still considering whether to include responses to those in this series, but until then here are some links:
I assume my thoughts on this will continue to emerge for a while, as I have already several themes swirling around in my mind
“A Conflict of Blurred Visions,” my initial response to Scott’s essay. Much of this material has found its way into the main series.