Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pseudo Science

Can a teacher get in trouble for talking out of school?  Let's hope not.  This professor's critique is, in my humble as ever opinion, spot on.  I'm glad someone will say it from the "inside".  I recommend the full article.

The apparent self-interest that is driving research in this field is not limited to raising students to merely follow the herd. The subjective data yielded by poorly formulated nutrition studies are also the perfect vehicle to perpetuate a never-ending cycle of ambiguous findings leading to ever-more federal funding. The National Institutes of Health spent an estimated $2.2 billion on nutrition and obesity research in the 2012 fiscal year, a significant proportion of which was spent on research that used the pseudoscientific methods described above. The fact that nutrition researchers have known for decades that these techniques are invalid implies that the field has been perpetrating fraud against the US taxpayers for more than 40 years—far greater than any fraud perpetrated in the private sector (e.g., the Enron and Madoff scandals).
When anti-science rhetoric occurs at a Kansas school-board fight over creationism, we can nod our educated heads in silent amusement, but if multiple generations of nutrition researchers have been trained to ignore contrary evidence, to continue writing and receiving grants, and to keep publishing specious results, the scientific community as a whole has a major credibility issue. Perhaps more importantly, to waste finite health research resources on pseudo-quantitative methods and then attempt to base public health policy on these anecdotal “data” is not only inane, it is willfully fraudulent.  
Edward Archer is a research fellow at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. He recently coauthored a PLOS ONE article on this topic.

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