Why Are Scientists and the Public So Often At Odds?

Chris Kresser has a new post on this topic which is a fairly short article and an interesting discussion. For those that enjoy reading the link follows. I'd suggest looking at some of the comments also. PR

chriskresser.com/why-are-sc...

"But in this article, I want to explore other side of the coin. When scientists and the public disagree, is it always the case that scientists are correct? Or is it possible—just possible—that consensus science may not be as infallible it is made out to be?"

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  • I think the problem of the disjoint between science and the public is especially evident in the field of nutrition, where in my eyes absolutely terrible scientific work is done; uncontrolled, confusing, and based on poor analysis and study design. But in all this, one must realise that scientists generally are not infallible and never should claim to be. I liken scientific advance to the steady building of a huge and complex building. The pioneers put the foundation bricks down; these have stood the test of time. As we progress further and further up, we find first that a few bricks in the middle may need replacing to prop up the structure (the occasional change in thinking in ideas nearer to the basic ones) But the further we go up the building to where the newest bricks are being put down, the more we find the need to replace and change as we find the instability of the structure is unacceptable. In other words, scientific advance is not like erecting a building that is immaculate from the beginning: it is a messy, argumentative business with imperfect bricklayers, full of self aggrandisement, self delusion, exclusiveness and refusal to admit error until it's unavoidable (and then lets say nothing, because the best thing is for the error to die away naturally, without naming names). Just like real life in other areas e.g. politics and the arts. Do not think we're any different. We should do our best given the circumstances, but should always be ready to question ourselves rigorously and what we believe in. If only. We're just human like everyone else.

  • Diogenes, Gary Taubes, and many others, would certainly agree with you on the quality of science in nutrition. Gary Taubes and his associate, Dr. Attia, are attempting to change this.

    nusi.org/

    It will be interesting to see what they can accomplish.

    One of the things that concerns me the most is the Corporate takeover of science in our academic institutions. This has been going on for a long time and does not bode well for anyone except those controlling the money. From Kresser's article,

    "Yet there are still some thorny problems with how scientific research is done. First, two-thirds of it is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. This is significant because studies indicate that industry-sponsored trials are more likely than non-industry-sponsored trials to report favorable results for drugs because of biased reporting, biased interpretation, or both. (1) Is it at least possible that industry sponsorship could be affecting studies on controversial topics like genetic modification of foods? The research says yes."

    I can only hope that someday academia will regain its moral backbone. I'm afraid that greed and money have had a corrosive effect on many aspects of society. PR

  • As they say, history is always dictated by who wins the battles and i suppose that money and influential positions have often played a large part in scientific thought. At least until an overwhelming body of evidence cannot be ignored for the need to change direction.

  • and who could write the documentation... or who could afford to pay them....

  • Taking the subject of treatment for thyroid problems as an example of why I am at odds with "science" :

    1) The treatment of UK patients with hypothyroidism is based on a consensus paper produced by the Royal College of Physicians and backed up by the British Thyroid Association, which is anonymous and unreferenced. Requests for the names of the authors and their references are ignored. This is not science.

    2) Experiments into the use of T3 in thyroid treatment never seem to consider symptoms. Also, the dose of T3 that is given as part of experiments seems to be much lower than the dose that many people take "in real life". So, if someone takes levo and feels awful, then switches to T3 and ends up taking 150mcg of T3 per day, if that person was studied as part of an experiment and was given 20mcg of T3 per day they would feel awful then too. This would be construed as a good reason for not taking T3 - the idea that the dose was too low would not be considered. Nobody ever cares how we feel. The blood tests are king and the people who are experimented on are treated with about as much compassion as a stick of wood.

    3) When were the experiments done which proved that TSH bears any relationship to good health and a good quality of life? It seems as if, once the TSH test was created, people no longer mattered.

    4) Even if the things that scientists believe about TSH were 100% correct, I would still want to treat myself based on how I felt. My quality of life is far more important to me than the quantity. Why do doctors and scientists insist I must be kept feeling ill? They don't have to live in my body, so it should be my opinion that counts. This method of treating people is sadistic.

    5) Not thyroid, but cardiovascular health - and this one is going to make me look stupid, but I don't care... I have raised cholesterol. I have been offered statins twice. I have refused them twice. There is an assumption by the medical profession that heart attacks are something to be avoided. So, I have to ask... What medical conditions are acceptable for me to die of? Dementia? I've seen a relative die of that and it was heart-breaking and cruel, so no thank you. Cancer? I've seen a friend die of that, and the pain he suffered was unbelievable. Many of my close relatives who have died did so of a heart attack, and second favourite was a stroke. To my mind they were the lucky ones. So even if statins do what they are alleged to do, I'm not really interested thank you. I realise that people can survive strokes and heart attacks and may have an appalling quality of life afterwards. I've seen that in close family too. But everything in life is a risk, and I know which risks I want to run. Doctors cannot make that decision for me.

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly, HB! My mum died of cancer and it was painful and undignified. My dad went out like a light with a heart attack, didn't feel a thing!

    My mum had bladder cancer for seven years without knowing it, but her quality of life suffered more and more until she was unable to go out or walk or do anything much.

    My dad lived fully until the last day, taking the garden rubbish to the dump after a happy day working in the garden. I know which one I would chose if I had the choice!

  • Mainly because doctors do not listen to patients......

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