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How to review evidence - Part 1

When we are reviewing scientific data, research articles or other reports in the press it is important to keep several important factors in mind, in order to arrive at a sound conclusion.

What are these things?


But before we get into it, let's just remember one thing: a 19 year old hobby blogger who has not yet graduated college does not get to "debunk" the esteemed Prof. Campbell who is a biochemist, who has spent all his professional (60+ years) life studying the field of nutrition and health, who is part of the renowned Cornell University, who is the lead researcher of the largest epidemiological study ever conducted in human history ("The China Study"). He does not get to be "debunked" by an overzealous kid. By the way, Prof. Campbell is being honored for his life's achievement in October 2017 by the College of Lifestyle Medicine. That same blogger also does not get to debunk honorable and reputable scientists and physicians such as Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Garth Davis, Nutritionist Brenda Davis. These men and women of high integrity have all dedicated their lives to finding out facts and truths and to help us all understand these things better.


Keep in mind that about 75% of statisticians have a Master's Degree or a PhD. It takes a lot to understand statistics, interpretation, significance and applicability.

A skilled statistician or probably any solid statistician can "lie with statistics" as they say. A study could be designed in such a way that a difference may not become statistically significant even though it actually is and the other way around. The bottom line is that a lot goes into this and it is a hugely complex topic. Also, just being statistically significant may not be enough to answer a real life or "clinical" question correctly or appropriately.

Don't get "blinded" by statistics and try to understand what it is you are reading.


A very important thing to consider when reading a study or an article is who wrote it or who the main author is. Who are the co-authors?

Is the author respected by his/her peers in the field? Is he / she reputable? Are there any financial ties to drug companies, health care systems, insurances, the dairy / meat / egg / cheese / wine / soda industry? There is simply NO WAY that there will be reporting without bias if there are ties to these organizations. NO WAY!

Authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest. And that section at the bottom of any study is one of the first things I am looking at to get important background information. Unfortunately, there are ways to hide industry ties. Maybe money was received for an unrelated project but nonetheless that funding would have impact on the current study or the interpretation of the data.

Keep in mind that the dairy / meat / egg / cheese / wine / soda industries are paying to have studies done to "investigate" their products. So, is this author someone who often takes money from these sources? Already, much less reliable.

...more important pointers coming up soon. Look for "How to review evidence - Part 2"

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