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Use of Bayesian Techniques in Randomized Clinical Trials: A CMS Case Study

Andrew Knight points me to this Kafkaesque report on Bayesian methods and evidence-based medicine. It’s always good to see things like this out there,

My main disagreement with the report is on their framework in which there is a fixed data model and different choices of prior distribution. As we discuss in Section 2.8 of Bayesian Data Analysis, I much prefer the framework in which a single prior distribution (or “population distribution”) is applied to many different data settings. I think that framing it my way makes the benefits of Bayesian inference much clearer.

I also don’t like all the tables. But that’s not really a Bayesian issue.


  1. anon says:

    "Kafkaesque"? Wasn't that the roaches discussion?

  2. Keith O'Rourke says:


    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. [In regione caecorum rex est luscus.]
    Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia (III, IV, 96)

    Thought the quote was from Kipling – but taken as overly negative – few will understand Bayesian or other statistical techniques fully and need to "be lead by the hand".

    Have not read the full report but it looks to me like they are doing more good than harm.


  3. Andrew Gelman says:

    Keith: Yes, I agree. It's just frustrating to see that these misunderstandings persist.