Talk:Gold standard (science)
Well... the "gold standard" is really more complex than this. The "gold standard" test for Bordetella pertussis (the bacteria that causes whooping cough) is culture, despite the fact that culture misses about 40% of positives, under ideal conditions (no delay in starting the culture, so you can't send it to one of the few reference labs that still perform this test). Bordetella by PCR is much more sensitive (catches 90-99% of positives). The reasons culture is considered the gold standard are 1. you can verify what you get - you get a culture on a plate that can be further tested (antibiotic susceptibility, etc) and 2. it might (60% chance at best) catch one of the rarer causes of pertussis-like illness (B. parapertussis, others). I will point out, however, that the test I do at work (a hospital/clinic lab) will detect both B. pertussis and B. parapertussis. In clinical chemistry testing, atomic absorption is (or possibly was) the gold standard for measuring levels of ions (sodium, potassium, calcium and chloride), but now ion-specific electrodes have become, in some cases, more accurate, as well as cheaper and faster.