Of what value is our research if no one is listening? Worse yet, what if the very foundations of the way we draw inferences are suspect? It is to confront this gap between the scientific talkers and the public non-listeners that Michael Bracken has shaped this excellent book, and few are as qualified as he to undertake this supremely difficult assignment.
Michael Bracken is a leading figure in the world of epidemiology, but unlike most practitioners of classical aetiological epidemiology, he has embraced the world of medical treatment as part of the scope of his work and thought.
His 1992 book Effective Care of the Newborn Infant, co-authored with the neonatologist Jack Sinclair, was one of the first evidence-based medical textbooks. And in this book Risk, Chance, and Causation, which patiently and lucidly explains how epidemiologists think, he illustrates his themes with examples that relate both to the origins of disease and to the treatment of disease.
The book is partly a straightforward exposition of key logical and statistical concepts along with a solid dose of epidemiological study design and causal inference. It is written with careful intelligence, with many useful and clarifying examples, and without resort to academic paraphernalia.
Public understanding of science would be much advanced if this book were to be required reading in courses in science and journalism.
The book was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the Health Sciences Category and received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE), in the Economics category.
Bracken, Michael B: Risk, Chance, and Causation. Investigating the Origins and Treatment of Disease, Yale University Press, 2013, 334 p.