Monday, March 5, 2007

Science and Medicine

If you have read this blog, you've probably noticed that I have posted a lot on global warming. The point of my posts is not that I don't believe global warming is occurring (I don't have enough data to determine whether it is or is not). My main argument has been that there is a lot of poor science being used to push a political agenda bordering on religious fanaticism.

Poor science is not only being used to promote global warming, but in many other facets of our daily lives. Take this article on the use of "science" to influence our medical knowledge. As the author states, most studies are pure "rot". No one seems to have a clue as to how to use statistics properly. Sample sizes are too small compared to the population size (researchers often draw conclusions from a sample of 20 people!!!). Drug companies typically use samples sizes many times higher than those used in these studies and still do not find all the harmful interactions that may occur. So one day coffee is bad for you, and a year later we find that it can be good for you.

Both for global warming and medical studies such as noted in this article, you need to understand that this is another case of "follow the money". Researchers at educational institutions are under pressure to apply for "grant money". So they find areas of study that are slightly off the beaten track. Due to personal biases they "conclude" that their original hypothesis was correct. This all makes for shady ethics.

Remember the scare many years ago that living near electrical transmission lines caused cancer? The data was completely fabricated. Whenever I hear the latest information on scientific topics in the media, I assume that the data is bad. Money or ego are probably behind the research and statistics are being used improperly or not at all.

The only good science being done is that on the health benefits of chocolate ;)

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