Scientific studies

A good part of my job is to look at scientific studies and figure out if they represent good science.  You’d think they’d hire an actual scientist to do that, but, really it’s not necessary.  There are a handful of rules good science follows, and then there is a lot of common sense involved.  I can follow rules, and I am bogged down with common sense, so I am fairly good at analyzing a fair percentage of them.  If the studies look at science that is over my head, or if it involves statistics, I give it to somebody else.

It turns out, I’m not the only non-scientist who looks at scientific studies!  I’m not even the only funny non-scientist who does.

On Sunday, John Oliver took a look on Last Week Tonight.

For the entire version, which Word Press won’t let me post because it’s too long, click on this link.

And don’t believe everything you read.  Or hear.

 

31 Comments

Filed under 'Merica, All The News You Need, Cancer, Drugs, Health, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Humor, Science

31 responses to “Scientific studies

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Elyse. Far too often these types of studies get taken at face value – or worse – and spread as gospel. If people aren’t going to dig into the science of everything they read (to realize the test was only on rats, or 20 women, etc), at the very least more media literacy training can help to recognize when and how the media get it wrong/misconstrue/misrepresent/overgeneralize…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. scientific studies say that most scientific studies are BS…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have only recently discovered John Oliver. He is remarkable and a boon to the media. Humor is a sharp sword.

    I encounter misleading pseudo-scientific advice most frequently in AARP articles, the TV evening news, and the Reader’s Digest. Stuff like, you must drink 8 glasses of water a day, one that seems persistent. Last night on the news I read of the world’s oldest woman. She lives in Italy and drinks a brandy every day. Bottom’s up for longevity! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember you recently posted one of Oliver’s pieces. He is great, and in spite of the fact that he’s on HBO (which I don’t subscribe to) zillions of people get to see his take on stuff. And he is always accurate.and funny. And yes, humor. Maybe that will even work against The Donald.

      I hadn’t read that about the woman in Italy. I had read that the American woman who had the title and who just died never drank, never did anything wrong. Personally, I’d rather go earlier than to never have had any fun!

      Like

  4. Paul

    Well said Elyse. I argue daily against interpretations of science that are trash. Have you ever heard that syndicated radio show – “John Tesh”? He makes a living misinterpreting science and then broadcasting it across the continent. This is becoming a western world pass-time. I grit my teeth when I hear this done. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John Oliver is hilarious and smart. The topic is scary. Pick and choose your study because both and neither results are accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. John Oliver is truly a gift from the gods.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. News is all about skewing reality, so I can imagine how that happens with science. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point. But we’re supposed to believe that if something is scientifically proven …. But then it isn’t the scientists, it’s the news. Wait does it always come back to them?

      Like

  8. We definitely have to take things we read with a grain of salt. It’s very easy for info to be skewed and misrepresented. I tweet and mention a lot of study results, but I try to include cautions about the fallibility of studies along the way. We need to be discerning readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You and John Oliver are so right. I studied scientific thinking in college, and learned basically the same thing. One study doesn’t prove anything, but you’d never know it by the way the media treats it. I suspect that if everyone thought scientifically, there’d be a lot less “health” products stocked in our drug stores.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would have loved to have taken that course! I mean, I’m actually getting paid for taking that course on a daily basis, but still, I might have had a leg up and not have had to learn things by rote!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s alright. You’re a natural. Some of us have to take a class to learn how to think. So consider yourself lucky.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, I’ve had individual tutorials. I have worked for some wonderful people who encourage questions and taught/teach me how to analyze. Eventually I catch on!

          Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll also add that after learning the scientific method, I became much more liberal in my political point of view. Perhaps I just got better at recognizing bullshit.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh you really crack me up.

          I think that there is a reason that conservatives hate critical thinking and you just put your finger right on it. It is harder to pull out the pitchforks when you try to understand what is happening!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. It is always interesting, though, to read people’s comments in health or science columns. It is very common to deride the “science” presented (which isn’t necessarily unwarranted) and then to exclaim positively over some anecdotal remedy or notion. For example, this morning I read that cancer treatment can’t be trusted, but a WATER FAST will make tumors shrink. Or at least did for this guy. So you should try it, too… Oy…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s becoming more and more common to deride science and go with anecdotes — that’s a big part of my job. And you know, when you have one entire half of the US electorate who doesn’t believe in science, you’ve got to expect that. Bring on the pitchforks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is confusing. And most confusing for me is the apparent pride people take in their ignorance. Not just that they don’t know what science IS, or many scientific facts, but that they actually are proud they are not elitist smart/sciencey people. And how often do you hear/read people say they “can’t do math”? Honest? You’re bragging about that? Would you be so pleased to say “I can’t read!”? ??????? WTF?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. And I don’t always trust my own gut. It’s certainly been wrong plenty of times, too. (You have an interesting job).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Barb! It often is, but like all jobs, well, it’s a job.

      Longstanding ideas of science are frequently wrong too — like the idea that ulcers are caused by stress (actually they’re caused by bacteria). There are lots of “scientifically proven” things that turn out to be incorrect. Keeps life interesting, I guess ….

      Like

  12. I completely agree. The more I read, the more I don’t believe anything I read anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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