"Lies, Damn Lies, and Medical Science"

Discussion in 'Dieting / Supplement Discussion' started by turbozed, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. turbozed

    turbozed Red Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Messages:
    9,436
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Location:
    Kakapoopoopeepeeshire
    From The Atlantic: Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science - Magazine - The Atlantic

    A couple years back when I was getting interested in nutrition I remember burning the midnight oil reading various medical and nutrition studies. After committing a lot of time to doing this, I would always run into a lot of contradictory evidence and what seemed to me like questionable science. Slowly, I began to become more and more skeptical of everything I read.

    Richard Feynman once said that he was always skeptical of many scientists who seemed to easily come up with new theories and solutions because he knew how hard it was to get things right (the endless and meticulous retesting and rechecking and questioning of one's results).

    This article seems to confirm my suspicion that there really is an awful lot of bad science out there, and that there's a lot of processes and factors perverting the scientific method which should be acknowledged and examined.
     
  2. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    41,179
    Likes Received:
    35,416
    Location:
    NorCal
    That's why many of us end up finding a professional we trust and listening to them. They apply their superior body of knowledge to the sea of studies for the purposes of furthering theory for our goals, and then yoke the relevant data into a cohesive set of recommendations.

    Associative studies are highly prone to error, but they will always be relevant when placed in context and should be examined. Ignoring science is the only truly dumb recommendation, here.
     
  3. turbozed

    turbozed Red Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Messages:
    9,436
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Location:
    Kakapoopoopeepeeshire
    You should probably read the entire article before you comment.

    Flawed studies aren't good science and therefore aren't science at all (they just wear the mantle of science). That's why they should be ignored.

    It's by giving credence to these flawed studies that a person truly ignores science. This sounds like semantics, but it's not.
     
  4. Revok

    Revok Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    Messages:
    4,030
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Om Tat Sat
    An excellent and disturbing article. This bit cuts to the core of the problem...

    So merely citing studies to back up a theory proves practically nothing. Citing the study's methodology and the confirmatory meta-studies is really the only way you can be sure of making a sound point in debate.
     
  5. Sinister

    Sinister Doctor of Doom Staff Member Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2005
    Messages:
    41,126
    Likes Received:
    2,554
    Location:
    Vegas
    This is the exact reason we stopped reading abstracts and started digging up whole papers. Then found out how easily relevant research can be buried by the scientific community itself if it flies in the face of "conventional wisdom."

    Plus, the really good information, controversy, and thoughts/reflections of the scientists are what make science interesting. It's a lot like studying History, there's true events, then there's interpretations thereof...and many times the mass media or general public form their opinions (and even belief systems) on skewed POSSIBLE viewpoints of an event. Science nowadays is not much different than this process. But there are and should be more of...the sort of people who weed through the bullshit and interpretations and will just say how something works or doesn't.
     
  6. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    41,179
    Likes Received:
    35,416
    Location:
    NorCal
    I'm not convinced you understand what "associative" means. You realize that it was associative studies that first revealed the link between cigarettes and cancer? The truth is that the majority of studies don't control for a single factor; ergo, you can call it non-science if you must, but IMO, it's all just pattern recognition and the imperfect application of data interpretation in order to predict future events.

    I'm not saying the article isn't relevant; I'm just pointing out that associative studies aren't necessarily irrelevant, either, and those are being grouped into "non-science", here. It reminds me of the great scene in the show "ER", during its early years, when Dr. Mark descends, almost like a protagonist in an ancient Greek drama entering Hades, to be chastised for his lack of understanding of "real" science by the post-mortem Pathologist. Every single action she took was measured according to a tightly controlled reaction or non-reaction to its impetus. The scene had real weight. Still, it's impossible for an IM doctor to ever proceed with that level of control; his patients aren't dead.

    Get what I'm saying?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  7. KILL KILL

    KILL KILL Gold Belt

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    21,510
    Likes Received:
    13,372
    Location:
    New Jersey / Georgia
    cigarettes cause cancer? you don't say
     
  8. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    41,179
    Likes Received:
    35,416
    Location:
    NorCal
    LOL, ask your grandparents exactly how long that reality was being suggested by members of the medical community before it became accepted by the public at large. There was a time when most thought this a conspiracy of the "quack scientists".
     
  9. KILL KILL

    KILL KILL Gold Belt

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    21,510
    Likes Received:
    13,372
    Location:
    New Jersey / Georgia
    I think it comes down to realizing what is fact and what is theory and to stop labeling everything as a fact quite so easily. As far as i'm concerned, there will always be contradicting studies to everything.
     
  10. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    41,179
    Likes Received:
    35,416
    Location:
    NorCal
    I'm definitely sympathetic to this sentiment. They should be more clear about how unsure they are.
     
  11. turbozed

    turbozed Red Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Messages:
    9,436
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Location:
    Kakapoopoopeepeeshire
    I don't think you understand what you're really arguing against. The associative study (if that's what you want to call it) in your scenario would be found to be accurate by Ionnaidis through reconfirmation of methodology and statistical re-checking.

    Nowhere in this article is it stated that there is no value to finding links between behavior/nutrition and disease. The article simply states that an alarming amount of science that passes peer review and is accepted as entrenched medical science is flawed due to confirmation bias, bad methodology, and self-serving interests. The fact is that 'patterns' that are recognized often turn out not to be patterns at all but merely illusory associations. This is demonstrated through mathematical and statistical analysis.

    In other words, it's about double-checking sloppy science, not whether scientific inquiry itself is valid. I don't even know how you would even interpret it as the latter unless you actually did NOT read the article first. Come on, just admit you didn't. I sometimes respond without reading the linked article too. No big deal.
     
  12. Todd Gack

    Todd Gack Dutch

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    48,556
    Likes Received:
    7,289
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Good article Turbozed. I'm nowhere near as well read as most of the folks here. Reading the lit online, I'll admit a lot of it goes over my head.

    To beat a dead horse, I've been reading a lot on D3 over the past few months because the benefits seem to be reported almost daily. But it worries me how it's heading towards "a sure thing" category to the point where many are talking about it as if it's a panacea already.

    After having issues with prostate health this past year I couldn't help but being just a little bit interested in studies of vitamin D3 on prostate cancer. But the results are a bit confusing for a guy like me. It was reported that 2000 iu's of D3 administered daily to men with prostate cancer lowered their PSA levels by almost 50% which is pretty exciting IMO. But then apparently other studies have shown that high doses of vitamin D have been shown to actually speed up the growth of aggressive prostate cancer.

    In the grand scheme of things 2000 iu's is somewhat of a moderate dosage. When you read stuff by The Vitamin D council, Dr. Mercola(who I'm sorry, sometimes comes across like a total quack to me), Dr. William Davis etc. all recommending doses of 4000-5000 iu's per day minimum to yield 50ng to 70ng/ml blood levels of D3.

    Lycopene is another one. They've linked lower incidences of prostate cancer in men that routinely eat Tomatos and in theory have linked that benefit to Lycopene, but then it seems that the very next sentence you're told that they're still not sure if it's the Lycopene that's responsible or something else found in tomatos.

    Sorry for birdwalking a bit. It just seems that for every single piece of evidence you can find in favour of something, there's another side that indicates that it could possibly do the opposite.
     
  13. turbozed

    turbozed Red Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Messages:
    9,436
    Likes Received:
    1,324
    Location:
    Kakapoopoopeepeeshire
    Sonny:

    I think the problems discussed in the article help explain why you get such conflicting evidence. Sometimes, the researchers are looking for a result and will find it by working backwards. Other times they do find legitimate results but then run too far with it, become entrenched in the field, and end up becoming quacks as their blinders to conflicting evidence go up.

    I think part of it has to do with researchers wanting to be the first to find that magical association between some factor and disease; to be the next Ancel Keys and be the next influential scientist to explain away a mystery of medical science like coronary heart disease with simple answers like "eat less fat." We all know how that worked out and how living systems and natural mechanisms are too complex to be reduced to simple guidelines for public-consumption.

    Unfortunately, it's the consumable and simple that gets the most attention from the media and is the most profitable. So it's no wonder that many researchers would rather not spend their time in obscurity rigorously vetting previous findings or trying to find the actual mechanisms behind things.

    Studies that associate a certain vitamin or nutrient or behavior to disease are only the beginning of scientific inquiry. Unless a mechanism is found, my belief is that the science is still out and, like the doctor in the article suggests, many can be ignored (at least by us) until science fleshes it out more thoroughly.
     
  14. Oblivian

    Oblivian Aging Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    Messages:
    40,140
    Likes Received:
    9,455
    Location:
    Merica
    I love the revelations going on in this forum lately. The supplement industry is shit and most "studies" linked in here are inconclusive or can be refuted. I'll file this under "no shit" and keep using common sense.
     
  15. Todd Gack

    Todd Gack Dutch

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    48,556
    Likes Received:
    7,289
    Location:
    Vancouver
    You need a hug.
     
  16. bacon

    bacon Silver Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    Messages:
    11,115
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Playin poker with my sister's kids
    I need a new multi. Flintstones chewables cause ovarian cancer.
     
  17. Todd Gack

    Todd Gack Dutch

    Joined:
    May 19, 2003
    Messages:
    48,556
    Likes Received:
    7,289
    Location:
    Vancouver
    LOL! There was an absolutely TERRIBLE article on MSN a couple of months ago about how Multi-Vitamins cause cancer. Upon reading the article I found out that the study involved taking a group of people who had cancer and a group of people who didn't have cancer and asking each person if they EVER took a multi-vitamin. More people answered yes in the cancer group. Therefor, multi vitamins caused cancer.

    I think Sinister posted about a similar study where they administered Multi's to people who were terminally ill.
     
  18. largemansmay***

    largemansmay*** Black Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2007
    Messages:
    5,445
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is also how they linked cancer to marijuana.
     
  19. Oblivian

    Oblivian Aging Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    Messages:
    40,140
    Likes Received:
    9,455
    Location:
    Merica
    If that's what they call it these days.
     
  20. Aaron Perls

    Aaron Perls Green Belt Professional Fighter

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,014
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Fanta Se
    ..."The China Study"...

    Another terrible offender.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.