How Health Research Misdirects Us – Richard Gunderman – The Atlantic

How Health Research Misdirects Us – Richard Gunderman – The Atlantic.

This is an example of some good journalism, something I don’t tend to find terribly often.  First, it is very cogent and apropos – the type of claims that the article and the study it covers are on the headlines every other day, many of them conflicting (have you looked into whether or not chocolate is good for you? Or coffee? Or a glass of red wine?).  The article does a good job of summarizing the reasons why so many of these studies make claims that are not supported by good science – confirmation bias (many scientists only study relationships that they already think exist), poor statistical analysis, and politicizing their results (scientists are pressured to find positive results and so ignore negative data).

The moral of the story is to be skeptical of what you read, especially if they try to argue their point with statistics.  Something I will discuss in a later post is the fine art of critical thinking, which is only sloppily taught in schools if it is taught at all.  If I was going to make another moral of this story, its that following the latest health fad is foolish at best, and harmful at most.  Eat your fruits and veggies.  Limit your intake of meat and cheese.  Exercise.  These things don’t and probably won’t ever change.

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