Grandstand. In his column “The doctor can and must think like a doctor, and not like a methodologist” published on March 25, 2020 on Lemonde.fr, Professor Didier Raoult urges to get rid of “Methodologists and mathematicians”. The rostrum is clearly provocative. As a medical methodologist, she shocked me. It may be a process of intention, but I extract from this text a common catchphrase: scientists would be preventing them from going straight, opposing the march of progress.
In medicine, “common sense” is that caregivers have endless wisdom about evaluating the effectiveness of new things, based on their practical experience, and the method would only hinder its spread. Finally, the expert authority should prevail over the scientific consensus based on the collection of high-level experimental evidence, because after thirty years of experience, we know everything better than everyone.
Scientists and caregivers can work together to provide society with robust responses. Scientists are also human beings. “Mathematicians” are not unethical monsters. Ethics transcends and we cannot escape it. If each decision made by Professor Didier Raoult in the context of his practice is judged according to his ethics, scientists do the same.
Attempts at mathematical prediction
To believe you, “The modellers of the future” would not be better than “Astrologers”. Yes, no human being can predict the future. Yes, statistics are a tool to help decision-making in situations of uncertainty (not irreducible). Yes, the most sophisticated mathematical predictions are wrong. However, admitting the need to anticipate, what do you offer instead as a tool?
I’m not sure if it works with a wet finger, even if it’s connected to a very well-cortexed expert brain, will lead to a better result. It’s possible. Perhaps you have a gift of foreknowledge? However, I have the right not to be immediately overwhelmed and to consider attempts at mathematical prediction.
You claim that “The doctor can and must act like a doctor, not like a methodologist”. Thank you for the obvious. Yes, a doctor, in his care activity, must act as such. Of course, the experience gained in the field is of value. This is why there are devices allowing therapeutic decisions to be made outside of recommendations (the possibilities of prescribing off MA).