3 problems with modern science

Lately, phrases like *research has proven*, or *studies show* get tossed around with less consideration than sucker punches in baseball.

No doubt, we’re children of the scientific age.

And for all its merits, there are a few noteworthy problems facing modern science that should give us pause before accepting the gospel of the white coats.

Have a gander…

1. Lack of reproducibility.  Because careers are built on, and money flows toward new research, there tends not to be a whole lotta checking on previous research for its validity.

Few scientists want to invest time and money refuting someone else’s study.

But if a study’s conclusions are legit, you should be able to recreate them.  In one instance, staff at a drug company tried to reproduce the results of 53 high-profile cancer research papers and discovered that only 6 lived up to their original claims.

The problem is gaining attention…but for now me thinks a bit of skepticism at early scientific reports is kosher.

2.  Outcome switching.  This bit of scientific trickery allows the dishonest researcher to farm data pools to more or less prove whatever he wants.  How does it work?  You start your study with the stated intention of measuring one thing (or several), and half way through when those measures aren’t holding up, you switch to new ones.

Do this with big enough sources of data, and you can end up with random correlations that appear statistically significant.  Then you present the quietly improvised and more compliant measures as though they were the focus all along.

Big pharma’s already been fined billions by regulators for this crafty little gambit.

A group of researchers called COMPare analyzed clinical trials in five leading scientific publications – a total of 67 – and found 58 of them had produced 357 outcomes not specified at their inception.  Not all are deliberate attempts to mislead.  But some are illusions that would make Criss Angel nod in respect.

3.  How it’s reported.  A couple of recent headlines set my spidey senses a tinglin’.  One was from the Toronto Star, *Just 60 seconds of intense exercise can boost your fitness level*.  The study compared 10 minutes of interval training with 45 minutes of traditional cardio for its effects on V02 max.  Which is fine, but your V-max is one narrow aspect of your fitness.  Even the study’s author said that *60 seconds is all you need* wasn’t the right conclusion to draw, contrary to what the article’s headline implies.

The second was a press release entitled, *Exercise, more than diet, key to preventing obesity*.  For starters, it wasn’t an even an obesity study.  It examined metabolic indicators in rats to determine the impact of exercise on metabolism – independently of weight loss.

See what I’m getting at?

Of course there’s an art to writing headlines that seduce people away from other stuff they could be doing online, like watching videos of parliamentary tussles, or googling the word *syncopated*.

My point is to read these things critically, and take their claims with a cubic foot of salt.

There’s a lot of great science currently being conducted by some brilliant scientists.

Just don’t take the *plunge* with fat-burning sea water suppositories because they’re *proven by research*.

Besides, I don’t believe in conspiracies, but I’m pretty sure aliens are behind all this…

Happy Doubting,

Conor Kelly

P.S. Free yourself from the hypnosis of confusion the media perpetuates.  Call (416) 826-4844 right now for your complimentary personal training consultation, and get the *skinny* on what works for better fitting clothes, and a fitter body.

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