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Why Medical Modeling Has Skeptics

20 July 2012 by NCCMMS

This is an insightful article that presents several key reasons why biologists are skeptical of biomedical models.  These same issues and factors can probably be applied to just about every other healthcare area.   The usage trends in medical modeling and simulation are towards training and education, rather than community or individual care (regressive and predictive  models) because (I believe) there is an inherent distrust in mathematical models of soft tissue systems.

"Though few biologists or physicians will admit to skepticism (we couldn’t get any card-carrying skeptics to go on record for this story), modelers claim that skepticism is near-universal—popping up in grant evaluations, paper reviews, and interactions with experimentalists. “I have encountered a tremendous amount of skepticism for modeling,” says Grace Peng, PhD, a program director at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Modelers may assume that the problem of skepticism rests solely with experimentalists. But, in fact, modelers play an enabling role—in the way they treat non-modelers, present their results, and even build their models. Thus, overcoming skepticism is as much about changing the culture of modeling as it is about changing the minds of biomedical researchers.

It also turns out that skepticism is heterogeneous. The degree of skepticism varies greatly across different fields of biology and medicine; and skeptics themselves come in many different flavors. Different kinds of skepticism have diverse origins and may present unique obstacles for modelers. This article disentangles the different types of skeptics and suggests what modelers can learn from each."

Meet the Skeptics: Why Some Doubt Biomedical Models - and What it Takes to Win Them Over

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