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September 18, 2012

Beware of Studies! ~ Ian Welch

Photo: Curious Expeditions

A recent study presented by Welch & Welch consultants confirmed significant benefits in reading blogs from WholeFed.org daily. (Welch & Welch is an independent research group and funding for the study was provided by WholeFed.Food a subsidiary of WholeFed.com, which is wholly owned by WholeFed.org).

The study was conducted over a six month period in a controlled apartment. The research subject, who we’ll call “Broker” was read posts daily regarding plant based nutrition and environmental causes. Lead Researcher, Alicia Welch, concluded, “Without question the results are definitive. Broker responded to WholeFed blogs very enthusiastically, which was easily interpreted by his excessive tail wagging and barking.”

Seriously, doesn’t it seem there are more studies than news out there, or is it that the news is composed only of studies?

Each day hundreds of studies are disseminated throughout the globe at the speed of light. Ninety-nine percent of these studies are not peer-reviewed, examined for scientific accuracy or, most importantly, scrutinized for bias.

Citing studies is easy to sway an opinion.

All you need is someone with credentials, research supporting your opinion and a delivery mechanism. Once the study is on the news wire, it’s out there; no matter how inaccurate or slanted it is.

And you can bet within hours it is water cooler chatter, “Hey, did you hear smoking is good for you? A new study today found a 100 year old man who smokes three packs a day and attributes his health to cigarettes.”

“Really? Who funded the study?”

“Umm . . . I don’t know. It said something about a farmers public relations group from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”

Not so long ago, we used to drink Coca Cola with cocaine in it. Apparently, studies showed that people who drank Coca Cola were wide awake and could work longer than their amped up counterparts.

Don’t doubt for one second that studies are not falsified either.

Photo: Vinnie Lauria

As recently as last week a Harvard faculty psychology professor was found to have committed eight instances of scientific misconduct on government sponsored studies. On a larger scale, Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca and Glaxo have all recently paid billions in fines for influencing doctors, studies and even clinical trials.

TV and radio personality, Dr. Drew is included in the Department of Justice’s complaint against GlaxoSmithKline, alleging that the company paid Dr. Drew $275,000 to prescribe the anti-depressant Wellbutrin SR. The complaint alleges that Dr. Drew highlighted the drug’s libido-enhancing side effects in March and April of 2009, though he did not reveal that he was a paid spokesman.

Whenever I see the word “study” a few alarms go off and I ask myself the following questions.

1. Is it peer-reviewed?

2. What is the scale of the study? How long and how many people were involved?

3. Where is the bias, or conflict of interest?

Studies are an important part of a broad marketing strategy for any product. If you are going to launch a new berry that enhances sexual performance, found only in Antarctica, you’d better have a couple studies showing the sexual prowess of penguins in the region. Better yet, a study showing the effects of the berries on college kids on spring break.

The bottom line is, you need to apply a filter to everything you read, watch or hear.

Be skeptical and spend a little time researching the validity of any claim. Before you take 10,000 g of vitamin C, or add chocolate to your glass of wine, investigate it. Be open to each side of the claim and weigh it out. And take a look at your own agenda.

Are you considering taking 10,000mg of vitamin C to offset a bad habit you have? Are you drinking a glass of wine because you have high blood pressure?

Perhaps rather than drinking wine as a ”cure,” maybe consider examining the cause in the first place.

 

On March 22, 2011 I had quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 40. It has been the single most powerful event in my life. My wife and I have taken control of the disease and are in the process of reversing it through nutrition and exercise.

 

 

~

Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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