A Note on 'Rethinking John Snow’s South London study: A Bayesian evaluation and recalculation'

16 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2020 Last revised: 21 Sep 2020

See all articles by Thomas Coleman

Thomas Coleman

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Close Mountain Advisors LLC

Date Written: September 20, 2020

Abstract

Koch and Denike (2006), in examining Snow's analysis of cholera in south London in 1854 (Snow (1856)) have claimed that "Snow made ... conceptual mistakes that adversely affected his results." Koch and Denike's claims, analysis, and conclusions are wrong: they mis-read or mis-interpret the underlying data; they incorrectly apply an inappropriate statistical test; they alter the underlying primary-source data; and some of their published test results cannot be reproduced using their published data. Although Snow's analysis fails to meet modern standards of statistical rigor (primarily due to the lack of appropriate tools in Snow's era) Snow's approach and his claims about the strength of the effect of water do survive re-analysis using modern statistical methods.

Keywords: John Snow, Cholera, Causal Inference, Epidemiology, Statistical Methodology, History of Science

JEL Classification: C18, N33, N93, B40, C52

Suggested Citation

Coleman, Thomas, A Note on 'Rethinking John Snow’s South London study: A Bayesian evaluation and recalculation' (September 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3647387 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3647387

Thomas Coleman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Close Mountain Advisors LLC ( email )

19 Davenport Ave.
Unit B
Greenwich, CT 06830
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
4
Abstract Views
70
PlumX Metrics