The Truth About Scientific ResearchJanuary 3rd, 2009
A claim that’s supported by scientific research has a certain seriousness to it that makes it feel verified and trustworthy. But is it?
The Pursuit of Truth
Many of the scientific discoveries and inventions that have occurred up until now are absolutely amazing. Using our advanced knowledge to uncover unknown truths is a marvelous thing. Finding truth is the core of what research is and is what drives scientists to dedicate themselves to it. But that doesn’t mean every piece of published research is worthy of this distinction.
To avoid having any influence on the results of a research study, researchers must have a strictly unbiased outlook on the results. Although this can be hard to accomplish, bias can inadvertently lead to changes in the design and protocol of a study that ultimately alter it’s outcome. A biased study leads to a biased truth which isn’t really the truth at all.
A Conflict of Interest
In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, corporations are looking for any advantage they can get to sell their products. For a company selling a product in the health and fitness field, one of the most valuable advantages they can get is to back their product’s claim with scientific research. But keep in mind that a scientific study can be very expensive and cost millions of dollars. Unfortunately, this all leads to a situation where potential for profit drives the need for research rather than the need for honest answers.
Probably the most despicable aspect of modern research is that large corporations are funding, staffing, designing, and running their own research. This is a major conflict of interest and it’s being taken advantage of. Two of the most glaring examples are the pharmaceutical and food industries. For the FDA to approve a pharmaceutical drug, they require the drug company prove through research that the drug is safe and effective. But they leave it up to the drug company to do this! If you don’t believe me, the following quote is directly from the FDA website: “It is the responsibility of the company seeking to market a drug to test it and submit evidence that it is safe and effective.” Unbelievable, but true.
Next time you interview for a job, why not ask if they’ll let you be a reference for yourself? As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s basically what’s happening, and chances are that millions of people won’t be risking their health by taking dangerous drugs as a result of your new job.
As shocking as it may sound, some drug manufacturers rig their research to get the results they want and get their drug out on the market and back it with substantial health claims. The unfortunate part about this is that dangerous risks are sometimes being covered up. One major example of this is with cholesterol drugs. If you want to read about grossly we can be misled by bad science, I highly recommend that you read The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease by Uffe Ravnskov MD, PhD.
Another insidious example to read about is genetically engineered foods and how the food industry and FDA allowed these foods to enter the market based on flimsy and inaccurate science. You can read about this in the book Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating by Jeffrey M. Smith.
In many cases, as you will learn from the two books mentioned above, most people who read scientific research typically only read the concluding statements. In many cases, these statements absolutely contradict the data produced by the study. It’s as if the study only takes place as a formality and the people in charge conclude whatever they’d like to. Does that sound like something you’d like to base health decisions on?
The Choice is Yours
I hope I’ve opened your mind to the fact that the scientific community isn’t nearly as pristine as you may think. This isn’t to say that all science is bad, but that you really need to have a critical opinion and not base your belief solely on the so called support of scientific research. As I always say, you have to take responsibility for your own health, and part of this is doing your own research to review the available evidence until you’re satisfied with your answer.