At least once a month a patient will bring up a new study on; why vitamins are bad, how exercise is responsible for the downfall of civilization, or how to lose 10 lbs by meditating, etc… You get the idea? Check out the most succinct article on spotting bad science I had to share with you.
1. Sensationalized Headlines
Headlines of articles are commonly designed to entice viewers int clicking on and reading the article. at best they over simplify the findings of research. at worst, they sensationalize and misrepresent them.
2. Misinterpreted Results
News articles sometimes distort or misinterpret the findings of research for the sake of a good story, intentionally or otherwise. if possible, try to read the original research, rather than relying on the article based on it for information.
3. Conflict of Interests
Many companies employ scientists to carry out and publish research – whilst this does not necessarily invalidate research it should be analyzed with this in mind. Research can also be misrepresented for personal or financial gain.
4. Correlation & Causation
Be wary or confusion of correlation & Causation. Correlation between two variables doesn’t automatically mean one causes the other. Global warming has increased since the 1800s and pirate numbers decreased but lack of pirates doesn’t cause global warming
5. speculative Language
Speculations form research are just that speculation. Be on the look out for words such as “may”, “could”, “might”, and others as it is unlikely the research provides hard evidence for any conclusions the precede.
6. Sample Size Too Small
In truth the smaller a sample size, the lower confidence in the results from that sample. Conclusion drawn should be considered with this in mind, though in some cases small samples are unavoidable, it may cause for suspicion if a large sample was possible but avoided.
7. Unrepresentative Samples
In human trials, researchers will try to select individuals that are representative of a larger population, If the sample is different from the population as a whole, then the conclusions may well also be different.
8. No Control Group Used
In clinical trials, results from test subjects should be compared to a control group not given the substance being tested. Groups should also be allocated randomly. In general experiments, a control test should be used where all variables are controlled.
9. No Blind testing Used
To prevent any bias, subjects should not know if they are in the test or the control group. In double-blind testing, even researchers don’t know which group subjects are in until after testing. Note blind testing isn’t always feasible, or ethical.
10. ‘Cherry – Picked’ Results
This involves selecting data from experiments which supports the conclusion of the research whilst ignoring those that do not. If a research paper draws conclusions from a selection of its results, not all, it may be cherry-picking.
11. Unreplicable Results
Results should be replicable by independent research and tested over a wide range of conditions (where possible) to ensure they are generalizable. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – that is, much more than one independent study!
12. Journals & Citations
Research published to major journals will have undergone a review process but can still be flawed, so should still be evaluated with these points in mind. Similarly, large numbers of citations do not always indicate that research is highly regarded.
Source: Compoundchem dot com