Arguing that “[n]ot all that appears in the world’s most distinguished medical journals is distinguished. Laborious hackwork exists in all fields of human endeavour…”, Dalrymple critiques a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that claims to find an important causative relationship:
…some of the data given by the authors do not fit with their hypothesis and indeed are mysterious and inexplicable. According to a graph in the paper, the blood glucose level among diabetics does not correlate in a linear fashion with the chance of developing dementia. Instead, the graph is a flattish, j-shaped one, in which, over a third of it, higher levels of blood glucose correlate with a lower chance of developing dementia. The increased risk of someone developing dementia with a blood glucose level of 150 compared with someone with a blood level of 170 was actually higher than that quoted for non-diabetics with levels of 115 and 100 respectively.
This is absurd. Since diabetes is defined simply by the level of glucose in the blood, there is no reason why the relationship between blood glucose levels and the development of dementia should take the form described in this paper. Elephantine labour has thus given birth to a scientific mouse.