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Reblogged:Scientist Aims Bazooka at Barrel of Fish

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Physician-Scientist John Ioannidis, whom I have mentioned here from time to time, has become interested in the field of nutrition. Having been trained as a scientist and having to fight really hard (and often losing) not to ridicule anything I hear about nutrition, I welcome this development. This as good news, even if only of the "naming a problem is half the battle" sense:

Dr. Ioannidis blames residual confounding and selective reporting. Confounding means incorrectly concluding that A causes B when, in reality, some other factor X causes B. The trouble for researchers is when A and X are related to each other. Teasing out the true cause can be quite difficult. For instance, eating bacon very well may be associated with a shorter lifespan. But maybe bacon-eaters are also less likely to exercise, and lack of exercise (the confounding factor) is the actual cause of a shorter lifespan.

Residual confounding refers to the undeniable fact that we can't know if confounding is present if we don't even bother to measure confounders in the first place. (And, to complicate matters, it may not even be possible to measure some potential confounders, such as how a person's lifestyle might change over time, what his genetic background is, or the exact chemical composition of the thousands of different foods in the marketplace.)

Selective reporting means that any study which shows a link between bacon and early death is likelier to be published than one that doesn't show a link. Combined, Dr. Ioannidis believes that residual confounding and selective reporting have created a systemic bias in nutrition research. [link omitted]
The good news is that these problems are in long need of discussion. The bad news may be that nobody, including Ioannidis himself -- I am not familiar enough with his work to know one way or the other -- is discussing how government funding or other influence over so much of science is contributing to the problem.


But again, identifying these problems is a very important and valuable first step towards fixing them.

-- CAV

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27 minutes ago, Gus Van Horn blog said:

The good news is that these problems are in long need of discussion. The bad news may be that nobody, including Ioannidis himself -- I am not familiar enough with his work to know one way or the other -- is discussing how government funding or other influence over so much of science is contributing to the problem. 

Well people are challenging the "science" on nutrition, for sure.  This guy for instance demolishes the whole structure nutritional guidelines are built on. It's basically one giant, politically driven lie. The studies it's based on are a joke.

Unfortunately, his suggested solution is to change the guidelines, not to get the government out of the nutrition business, but the actual effect of what he's saying is that he is making it very hard for anyone to continue taking anything the government organizations have to say on nutrition seriously.

 

 

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