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WE 1: 5.5+ years IT Prof.
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Most diseases or conditions improve by themselves, are [#permalink]
01 Jun 2011, 11:46
Most diseases or conditions improve by themselves, are self-limiting, or
even if fatal, seldom follow a strictly downward spiral. In each case,
intervention can appear to be quite efficacious. This becomes all the more
patent if you assume the point of view of a knowing practitioner of
To take advantage of the natural ups and downs of any disease (as
well as of any placebo effect), it‘s best to begin your treatment when the
patient is getting worse. In this way, anything that happens can more
easily be attributed to your wonderful and probably expensive
intervention. If the patient improves, you take credit; if he remains
stable, your treatment stopped his downward course. On the other hand,
if the patient worsens, the dosage or intensity of the treatment was not
great enough; if he dies, he delayed too long in coming to you.
In any case, the few instances in which your intervention is successful
will likely be remembered (not so few, if the disease in question is selflimiting),
while the vast majority of failures will be forgotten and buried.
Chance provides more than enough variation to account for the sprinkling
of successes that will occur with almost any treatment; indeed, it would
be a miracle if there weren‘t any ―miracle cures.
Even in outlandish cases, it‘s often difficult to refute conclusively
some proposed cure or procedure. Consider a diet doctor who directs his
patients to consume two whole pizzas, four birch beers, and two pieces of
cheesecake for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and an entire box of
fig bars with a quart of milk for a bedtime snack, claiming that other
people have lost six pounds a week on such a regimen. When several
patients follow his instructions for three weeks, they find they‘ve gained
about seven pounds each. Have the doctor‘s claims been refuted?
Not necessarily, since he might respond that a whole host of auxiliary
understandings weren‘t met: the pizzas had too much sauce, or the
dieters slept sixteen hours a day, or the birch beer wasn‘t the right
brand. Number and probability do, however, provide the basis for
statistics, which, together with logic, constitutes the foundation of the
scientific method, which will eventually sort matters out if anything can.
However, just as the existence of pink does not undermine the distinction
between red and white, and dawn doesn‘t indicate that day and night are
really the same, this problematic fringe area doesn‘t negate the
fundamental differences between science and its impostors.
The philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine ventures even further and
maintains that experience never forces one to reject any particular belief.
He views science as an integrated web of interconnecting hypotheses,
procedures, and formalisms, and argues that any impact of the world on
the web can be distributed in many different ways. If we‘re willing to
make drastic enough changes in the rest of the web of our beliefs, the
argument goes, we can hold to our belief in the efficacy of the above diet,
or indeed in the validity of any pseudoscience
Q1. In the context of the passage, its discussion of various medical conditions,
and the particulars of those conditions, the term self-limiting (lines 15-16)
refers to medical conditions that:
A. run a definite course that does not result in the patient‘s death.
B. impair the patient‘s ability to engage in everyday activities.
C. have a very high rate of mortality.
D. never shows improvement.
E. cannot be cured by medicine
Can someone please explain the answer.