Monday, August 27, 2007

Yet Another "Unscientific Survey"?

My friends Fard Johnmar of HealthcareVOX and Envision Solutions and Dmitriy of Trusted.MD are at it again!

They are again hosting a "global healthcare blogger survey," the first one of which was done last year (see "Taking The Pulse Of The Healthcare Blogosphere").

Needless to say, this is a very "unscientific" survey, just like the "First Ever Pharma Blogosphere Reader Survey" (download summary here).

Of course, critics of these kinds of surveys always point to the fact that they are "unscientific" and hint that the surveyors are trying to pass them off as scientific. Never mind that we surveyors never made that claim and, in fact, pointed out that our surveys are NOT "scientific" from a statistical significance point of view. See, for example, the video of an interview I did with Fard about the Pharma Blogosphere Survey (access it here).

If there's one thing bloggers in this pace have in common, it's our belief in science and the scientific method. Science, after all, is the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry that we all love to hate. Maybe we feel that science should serve the public good rather than serve the investment community. But as Mr. Merck once said, "We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. Not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear."

But I digress!

I believe in science and I have the degrees to prove it: BS (Chem), MS and MPhil (Biochem). But I also believe that you can learn a lot by using non-scientific methodology. Market researchers do this all the time with surveys and focus groups.

To require scientific rigor in every thing we do is unrealistic and not necessary. It would take too long and cost too much. Sometimes, we just need some quick and easy estimates so that we can make decisions.

Now, I wouldn't say that drug companies should bypass the scientific method when developing new drugs. That would be criminal -- drugs can kill!

So, when Fard and Dmitriy cite the following benefits of their survey, I concur:

"The first benefit of participation is increased knowledge. You will help your fellow bloggers better understand who is blogging about healthcare and why they are doing it. More knowledge will benefit everyone who cares about the healthcare blogosphere."
NOTE: F&D claim that the survey will allow them to make "valid conclusions about the size and shape of this growing part of the global blogging community." I note that they stop short of saying "scientifically valid."

If you are a healthcare blogger who devotes at least 30% of your blogging time to healthcare, you are invited to take the survey:

Click logo to be directed to the survey
Click logo to be directed to the survey

1 comment:

Fard Johnmar said...

John:

Thanks so much for highlighting the survey. As for being transparent about the methodology, we also had this language in last year's survey report -- which seemed to satisfy most critics of our methods:

"It is important to note that this survey is not scientific. This means that the data cannot
be applied to the overall healthcare blogger population. Nevertheless, this poll provides
interesting and valuable information about a population of active and increasingly
influential healthcare bloggers."

We also repeated this language in the press release about the results.