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Jun 14, 2018 - 9:08:34 AM
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7673 posts since 2/22/2007

Often here, on various topics, statements will be made about relying on experts to determine the truth of a matter, or something to the effect of "well that's what you think, but this research shows blah, blah--" with the underlying attitude of "who are you to have an opinion? Leave that to the researchers", or "who are you going to trust, some guy on the internet or this study from wherever, etc.", and while evaluating your sources is critical, the uncritical acceptance of any data just because it comes from an established research source simply cannot be relied upon.
Consider The Sanford Prison Experiment. It is included in most Psychology courses and has become accepted as true. But it was not.

https://twitter.com/vpostrel/status/1007246411514118144

And then we Ancel Keys famous Seven Nations Study which seemed to show that health and lifespan could be improved by a diet low in fat and cholesterol.  But he cooked the books to make the results come out to a predetermined conclusion, and deliberately ignored solid data that contradicted his findings.

Now where the rubber meets the road is when a government official or agency pushes an agenda based upon research. It may be done with the best of intentions, 

In 1977 George McGovern led the US Senate to publish the first Dietary Goals for the United States. This led to changes in school lunches, hospital meals, and began changing how many Americans composed their meals. Millions of people tried to eliminate this killer fat from their diet, and blood cholesterol levels became almost an article of faith among those chasing health. 

And that is about the time when the "obesity epidemic" and the "type 2 diabetes epidemic" began to explode. It seems that these dietary guidelines were actually harming the people that they were designed to help.  And that is because the guidelines were based upon faulty science. Yet Ancel Keys got his photo on the cover of Time Magazine and derived benefits from his celebrity for the rest of his life. 

Citing two flawed research projects does not prove anything at all, I do know that. All of the above is simply to point out that when one haughtily cites a research finding and expects that to silence all opposition, well, there are solid reasons to require more information and to doubt any research which is contrary to our own experience and understanding. 

So, as Timothy Leary advised; "Think For Yourself, Question Authority".  "Research" is not some commodity. It is a process. 

Jun 14, 2018 - 10:28:04 AM

Banjo Lefty

Canada

1176 posts since 6/19/2014

That’s why science relies so much on redundancy. When somebody gets an interesting result, the experiment is repeated several time (by different researchers in different places) to see if those results are consistent.

Jun 14, 2018 - 10:41:09 AM
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dawgdoc

USA

8705 posts since 8/25/2004

As someone who is paying a mortgage with a research career and as someone who is a director of an institutional review board overseeing research, I'm very sensitive and aware of the process that oversees it. It is extraordinarily rare for bad science to get out. Its the 50/50 problem. You find an interesting thing. Then you find someone to dispute it. Therefore even if 99% of the scientists agree, if you have one that doesn't and they go on TV, the perception is 50/50. I've got a book coming out soon that is slightly controversial and the reviews thus far are 'wow, really weird, but we have nothing to say that you're not right'.

BUT, I've always said and have said here before: 'Science is not becoming right, its becoming less wrong'. Darwin blew it on a few things, but man did he set the stage for hundreds of thousands of research projects

Jun 14, 2018 - 11:43:32 AM

7673 posts since 2/22/2007

I agree with all of the above and I'm in no way critical of the scientific method or research itself. But an appeal to authority, as if the question is now settled beyond any doubt, is what I reject whether that appeal be to research or to any divine authority, and in both cases such appeals tend to cut off further discussion.

And I say that mainly to those who would try to convince others of their position. It will require more than brow-beating into submission under the guise of the authority of research. Persuasion is difficult. It is a skill in itself and requires some understanding of the other's position and the ability to move from "you are wrong" to "consider this",and the "this" in question is understandable and believable by the one(s) you are trying to persuade.

Jun 14, 2018 - 12:36:13 PM
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7905 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjo bill-e

Often here, on various topics, statements will be made about relying on experts to determine the truth of a matter, or something to the effect of "well that's what you think, but this research shows blah, blah--" with the underlying attitude of "who are you to have an opinion? Leave that to the researchers", or "who are you going to trust, some guy on the internet or this study from wherever, etc.", and while evaluating your sources is critical, the uncritical acceptance of any data just because it comes from an established research source simply cannot be relied upon.
Consider The Sanford Prison Experiment. It is included in most Psychology courses and has become accepted as true. But it was not.

https://twitter.com/vpostrel/status/1007246411514118144

And then we Ancel Keys famous Seven Nations Study which seemed to show that health and lifespan could be improved by a diet low in fat and cholesterol.  But he cooked the books to make the results come out to a predetermined conclusion, and deliberately ignored solid data that contradicted his findings.

Now where the rubber meets the road is when a government official or agency pushes an agenda based upon research. It may be done with the best of intentions, 

In 1977 George McGovern led the US Senate to publish the first Dietary Goals for the United States. This led to changes in school lunches, hospital meals, and began changing how many Americans composed their meals. Millions of people tried to eliminate this killer fat from their diet, and blood cholesterol levels became almost an article of faith among those chasing health. 

And that is about the time when the "obesity epidemic" and the "type 2 diabetes epidemic" began to explode. It seems that these dietary guidelines were actually harming the people that they were designed to help.  And that is because the guidelines were based upon faulty science. Yet Ancel Keys got his photo on the cover of Time Magazine and derived benefits from his celebrity for the rest of his life. 

Citing two flawed research projects does not prove anything at all, I do know that. All of the above is simply to point out that when one haughtily cites a research finding and expects that to silence all opposition, well, there are solid reasons to require more information and to doubt any research which is contrary to our own experience and understanding. 

So, as Timothy Leary advised; "Think For Yourself, Question Authority".  "Research" is not some commodity. It is a process. 


That's interesting Bill, as I recently saw the author of a health book recently citing the exact information about the government dietary guidelines.  She was saying that the research was not correct and as a result has done a huge disservice to citizens of this country whom took and adhered to the advice.

Jun 14, 2018 - 12:41:51 PM
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Owen

Canada

2113 posts since 6/5/2011

If somebody demonstrates that I'm wrong, I think the onus is on me to consider or figure things out differently, without somebody having to "persuade" me.   Although there might be more than one option available, the person might want me to come to the same conclusion as him/her, and I have no problem with that.... either way it has to get through my "common sense filter."

Jun 14, 2018 - 12:50:29 PM
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dawgdoc

USA

8705 posts since 8/25/2004

Bill,
I disagree. The 'scientific method' IS fundamentally flawed the way people think it works. Its a cute way to teach it and we have since kids are in third grade, but nobody really does it. By creating a hypothesis, you have, by default created intellectual blinders. Nobody really does it that way, even though everybody claims they do. You create a huge list of options and keep checking them off. 'Nope, nope that isn't right' and sometimes you get to the end of the list and go 'huh, I don't know either'. If you want to call it a hypothesis it would be 'one of these on the list might not be wrong'. The pressure or threat of cheating is actually pretty high, but its extremely rare. You never hear about the hundreds of thousands who didn't. Its just a few idiots who have (e.g. the vaccine debacle) that makes folks think researchers all cheat. You have DEFINED the 50/50 rule by cherry picking the 0.001% that have.

[edit: disclaimer, I made up that last statistic; I don't really know for sure]

Edited by - dawgdoc on 06/14/2018 12:53:17

Jun 14, 2018 - 1:00:54 PM

7673 posts since 2/22/2007

I'd like to correct something I wrote above and is now past the edit window. Change "blood cholesterol" to "dietary cholesterol", as there is a huge difference. Eating cholesterol, for many, has little to no effect on the serum cholesterol in our blood. Our bodies make the cholesterol, which is why a vegan friend has been in the 600 range since a child and has rarely tasted any meat while his carnivore buddy's levels are just fine without any medications. It is not as simple as "eat foods containing cholesterol and your blood cholesterol levels will OF COURSE go up----duhhhh". It's just not that simple, yet Key's study still drives our national dietary policy.

Jun 14, 2018 - 1:14:53 PM

dawgdoc

USA

8705 posts since 8/25/2004

Actually, I DID find a real stat. 0.02% But there's fraud and then there's just dumb mistakes. I have a fairly highly cited paper that's been out there for 20 years and I mislabeled a damn nerve. I fixed the paper, but the books its been cited by are wrong. Its all my fault. Nobody really cares in the grand scheme of things, but it does drive me nuts.

But, the upside is, most of these things are self correcting. Shoot, you'd be dead in a couple of days (again, made up stat) without cholesterol

Jun 14, 2018 - 2:04:29 PM

Tommy5

USA

2926 posts since 2/22/2009

A lot of folks are confused about how percentages work. For example say you had a drug that helped to prevent heart attacks, you set up a group that was the control group and a group that got the drug. In the control group ,2 people out of a hundred had heart attacks, in the group that got the drug 1person out of a hundred got the drug, can you now say that the drug cut down the incidence of heart attacks by 50%?Depending on how many people in the study, the difference could be significant or could be with in the margin of error, if you claimed the drug cut the incidence of heart attacks by 1% you might have trouble advertising or selling the drug.Worse are studies without control groups where folks are filling out questionnaires,one found that folks that had frequent sex, lived longer then folks that didn’t, I would think that ones health would have something to do with the results, so you might as well just say that healthy folks live longer then sick folks,questioniare surveys about food are even worse as how honest are folks in recounting their food consumption l

Jun 14, 2018 - 2:24:05 PM
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Owen

Canada

2113 posts since 6/5/2011

Tommy, I'm no statistician, but in your example, the incidence isn't being cut by 1%, but by one percentage point, no?   ...wouldn't it be inaccurate, as well as futile, to claim "the drug cut the incidence of heart attacks by 1%"?   But you're right, many, sometimes me included,  don't know how to decipher basic stats.

A few years ago our government [that sound you hear is me slapping my own wrist] changed our sales tax from 13% to 14% [or maybe it was t'other way 'round] ... people, including the media, generally  talked of a 1% increase/reduction in the tax, when the change was actually about 8%.  

Edited by - Owen on 06/14/2018 14:33:46

Jun 14, 2018 - 2:30:08 PM

Paul R

Canada

10314 posts since 1/28/2010

And a lot of people confuse correlation with causation.

Jun 14, 2018 - 3:16:39 PM

6403 posts since 7/24/2013

The miracle of redundancy.

Jun 14, 2018 - 3:23:21 PM

Tommy5

USA

2926 posts since 2/22/2009

True Owen, if they advertise a drug as cutting heart attack risk by 50% most folks would think it would cut their risk by half which is a lot where as the truth may be that the drug is worthless as the 1% is within a margin of error depending on the number of people in the study. Another example is health food folks say that a diet with green tea and mushrooms cuts breast cancer by 55%, based on answers on a diet questionaire, yet folks that eat mushrooms and drink green tea may just be folks that also have a number of healthy habits compared to the general population of McDonald munchers .

Jun 14, 2018 - 4:44:44 PM

312 posts since 8/7/2017

Dawgdoc - i don't know what you are researching, field-wise. But the incidence of faulty research, in the human medical end of things, is much higher than you stated....in some areas it exceeds 50%. I always thought of medical research as the Gold Standard....but turns out I was wrong. Here's my source:
alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/m..._id=53345


I am a retired scientist (biology/oceanography). Even in the 1980's, it was plain to me that conflict of interest was leading (some, many, most?) scientists to fudge their results to match the desires of the funding organization. That trend has gotten worse over the past decades, sadly. Banjo-Bill-e is quite right to question "research" supporting one side or the other. (in my defense of my support of the Stanford doctor cited above, I'll mention that he is internationally respected...though that is not proof itself, *smiles*).

Nobelist Barry Marshall's experience (cure for ulcers) is another cautionary tale of the badness of "science" when it comes to a new, but financially devastating to current practitioners, medical finding. Science is not isolated from money influences, darn it.

There are lots of pitfalls to "scientific research" if you want a true answer. My pet peeve is lack of understanding of the use and misuse of Statistics - this is as true of scientists as it is of reporters and the public. I loved statistics courses, just have a math knack in that direction, I guess :-) The concepts are not hard, but the pedological ways they are presented make them seem hard, sigh.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 06/14/2018 16:58:04

Jun 14, 2018 - 5:56:59 PM

Drivel

USA

1115 posts since 4/17/2009

One of my favorite lectures.  About this thread.  Watch it and you will see.  " The  Oiling of America "

Jun 14, 2018 - 6:56:55 PM

7905 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by dawgdoc

Bill,
I disagree. The 'scientific method' IS fundamentally flawed the way people think it works. Its a cute way to teach it and we have since kids are in third grade, but nobody really does it. By creating a hypothesis, you have, by default created intellectual blinders. Nobody really does it that way, even though everybody claims they do. You create a huge list of options and keep checking them off. 'Nope, nope that isn't right' and sometimes you get to the end of the list and go 'huh, I don't know either'. If you want to call it a hypothesis it would be 'one of these on the list might not be wrong'. The pressure or threat of cheating is actually pretty high, but its extremely rare. You never hear about the hundreds of thousands who didn't. Its just a few idiots who have (e.g. the vaccine debacle) that makes folks think researchers all cheat. You have DEFINED the 50/50 rule by cherry picking the 0.001% that have.

[edit: disclaimer, I made up that last statistic; I don't really know for sure]


Doc ...... you of all people probably know that 99.9% of the average citizen does not care or give much thought about scientific research unless it is something that directly involves them and their lives.  Of course, we all know there is a huge amount of research that does affect them, but they are not aware that it is even going on.  Thus, I am not surprised that in actuality there is not much cheating.  I am also guessing that most scientists have no reason to cheat.  I would hazard a guess that because it is the things (like dietary standards) that we may be interested in, there is more incentive cheat, as there is a huge amount of notoriety (and or money) to be made from the research.

Jun 14, 2018 - 7:10:58 PM

Owen

Canada

2113 posts since 6/5/2011

quote:
Originally posted by BanjoLink
<snip>    "....but they are not aware that it is even going on.  <snip>

Yep...more support for "Some people make things happen; some people watch things happen, and some people wonder what happened."     [Disclaimer... this quote seems to be attributable to several people... I'm not one of them.]

Jun 14, 2018 - 7:41:37 PM

figmo59

USA

27281 posts since 3/5/2008

I just go on me own life exsperiances... n ..try to listen to others...

Jun 14, 2018 - 9:11:30 PM
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dawgdoc

USA

8705 posts since 8/25/2004

quote:
Originally posted by BrooksMT

Dawgdoc - i don't know what you are researching, field-wise. But the incidence of faulty research, in the human medical end of things, is much higher than you stated....in some areas it exceeds 50%. I always thought of medical research as the Gold Standard....but turns out I was wrong. Here's my source:
alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/m..._id=53345

But this is EXACTLY my point!  He cherry picks some (likely well intentioned) folks who really screwed the pooch and ignored the hundreds of thousands of peer reviewed papers who didn't.  Its sensational, gets folks all excited and therefore everybody cheats.   I've served on grant panels for NSF for more than a decade.  I guarantee if collusion to make a profit is present, I've not seen it (although some of us would kill for that extra month of grant salary).  I've had to oversee the approval of drug testing products where I got dragged into NDA problems that it takes some very serious explaining to get approval.  Medical manuscripts are legally required to list a 'potential conflict of interest' if, for example, drug company XX has funded it.  All it takes is a close look at the paper to realize it. 

Jun 15, 2018 - 12:04:06 AM

mbuk06 Players Union Member

England

6503 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjo bill-e

"Research" is not some commodity. It is a process. 


Bill, I completely agree. 

When the focus is for example dietary behaviour and effect, or other areas where there is a commercial incentive in regard to interpretation of the 'facts', that research is most times funded by business with vested interest in specific outcomes. So that type of 'research' is directed and selective and becomes a purchasable commodity. In most situations if we start with a predetermined intention of what we want or need to find then the study can be designed to appear to support that agenda.

That's a whole different kettle of fish than a pool of collective research that is outcome-neutral and intended purely to further knowledge. The basic rule of thumb is to look at where or who the money is coming from to pay for any given research and then to ask if that sponsor stands to benefit financially from one specific 'research finding'.

Edited by - mbuk06 on 06/15/2018 00:10:36

Jun 15, 2018 - 4:18:47 AM

Drivel

USA

1115 posts since 4/17/2009

And then there is this one.

 

Jun 15, 2018 - 4:24:37 AM

7905 posts since 1/15/2005

All of this brings up an interesting question. Why would scientists, particularly research oriented, tend to be more honest than the public in general? Why would they be more honest than bankers, lawyers (maybe I'm stretching it here;) ), doctors, engineers, store clerks, sanitation workers, etc., etc. I may happen to think that they are, but I have zero proof.

Jun 15, 2018 - 4:39:13 AM

KE

Malta

22330 posts since 6/30/2006

Redundancy and replication. Checks and balances through peer review. The system, if followed, is designed to check against individual bias and dishonesty.

Jun 15, 2018 - 4:49:29 AM

mbuk06 Players Union Member

England

6503 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by BanjoLink

All of this brings up an interesting question. Why would scientists, particularly research oriented, tend to be more honest than the public in general? Why would they be more honest than bankers, lawyers (maybe I'm stretching it here;) ), doctors, engineers, store clerks, sanitation workers, etc., etc. I may happen to think that they are, but I have zero proof.


Integrity, conscientiousness and impartiality are not defined by profession. They are characteristics inherent in individuals.

We need only look at the relationship between pharma companies and the medical profession to see evidence of that distinction - and examples of both professionalism and highly questionable practice.

A guarantee of integrity depends entirely on who we are dealing with; not what their job title is.

Edited by - mbuk06 on 06/15/2018 04:53:35

Jun 15, 2018 - 5:06:59 AM

8thpol

USA

5355 posts since 3/3/2005

Nassim Taleb = Earl Scruggs

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