Half of the thyroid research you read is nonsense

"‘The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.’

A half of medical scientific research may be untrue… think on the implications of that for a moment."

The above is taken from Malcolm Kendrick's most recent blog post - how scary is that? If you imagine that half the research papers you've ever read about thyroid are just plain lies and nonsense, this means that half the things you do in response to them is useless, at best, or dangerous at worst.

For me personally, the worst thing is I don't know which half is true. What if my latest pet theory that I'm working my a** off over is in the bunkum half? It means I am wasting all my time following dead ends and disappointment. I may even be making things worse.

This really is a serious issue that needs to be addressed urgently, but until it is, I shall retain my scepticism in the face of anything I read, and anything that comes out the mouth of a doctor or specialist. They are, genuinely and with good cause, not to be trusted....

Read the full article here. It makes some very interesting points about just how researchers and doctors can be nobbled:

drmalcolmkendrick.org/2015/...

Last edited by

13 Replies

oldestnewest
  • Chancery - I remember wondering many times why you always insisted on scientific proof for everything and I posted accordingly. I often quoted Kendricks books. I don't think he is pointing the finger at thyroid research - unless he states that in his blog....it's late here in Crete - so will read in the morning.

    I remember you being very anti at one stage and dismissing what you called alternative sites/ideas/thoughts. Maybe they are the ones that have always questioned the validity of some research - as have many of us here....

    We have to work out our own very individual journey to wellness.... a little bit of this and a little bit of that....you soon learn who you can trust. It seems you are now a Kendrick fan - so that is a step in the right direction :-)

    Following the advice of many non-medical people on this forum has certainly improved my health....so now it's your turn to follow those that have given you lots of guidance :-)

  • Ah, not at all, Marz. You misunderstand me. I believe in scientific proof alright; that still stands. What I mean with reference to alternative health sites is that until they can substantiate their statements with research, or even substantial plausibility if there is no research to be had, then I hold my scepticism in place. It doesn't mean I automatically disbelieve them. It's just that it's too easy when Western medicine falls down to run to the 'other team', as it were, and wholesale believe everything they tell you, because if Western medicine is wrong, alternative medicine must be right.

    I don't believe in that kind of black and white thinking. EVERYBODY should be treated with scepticism. What I find distressing about this blog is that research papers, specifically, should be above reproach, in that if they say they tested 200 people with this and that and discovered that... then we should be able to trust their veracity. If you can't trust the very foundations of science, where do you stand?

    I actually mistrust or outright disbelieve a lot of Western medicine. I don't believe in cholesterol theories, statins or dieting. I don't believe that a little sugar is okay, or that being overweight is necessarily dangerous. I believe overeating is the dangerous thing and that's not the same thing. To my knowledge Western medicine doesn't uphold this, but neither does any alternative medicine I know - that one's all my own!

    I could go on all day, but I think you get my point.

    I think we need proof of everything, including, it looks like, the damn research papers themselves, which is a blow, but not entirely unexpected.

    As for following people on the forum for my health, I wouldn't be on here if I didn't believe people on here knew what they were talking about, certainly about thyroid. But that doesn't mean they get everything right 100% of the time either. Some batty theories abound on here too, and fashions and fads get trotted out - people are only human, after all, and everybody has their pet causes, self included. I most certainly do listen to people on here, all the time. It's my first port of call on any new discovery or thought, but I still keep my scepticism. It's important. And if more people exercised it, including doctors, I believe we'd all be a lot better off!

    P.S I've always been a huge Kendrick fan - right since his first book, long before I was ill or came near this forum. Nothing's changed. X

  • Yes, we are all battling to find our way through a thick mist. Science can be well dodgy. Personal experience is hugely useful and offers many insights, but can also be crazed. We just have to try our best to work out what might be true.

    Reading the BMJ 2014 summary of B12 evidence Polaris posted, which says the serum B12 measurement tells us very little, I thought - so all those pieces of research based on that measurement - they're all in the bin.

    This site is hugely, hugely, helpful, not least because it is openly acknowledged that none of us know the answers, we are all searching.

  • You're right, Asp. People who have been in dire straits sometimes hit it lucky and get a cure that works for them. Thereafter they become zealots. For the longest time after B12 worked its magic bullet for me, I was desperate that any other poor soul showing similar symptoms, or anything even vaguely B12 related, shouldn't go without The Knowledge, so I was telling all and sundry about it, convinced their complaint must be the same. And, of course, it isn't. When people are telling you about their ailments they censor themselves, leaving out things that might be relevant (like they drink two bottles of whisky a day, or eat their own body weight for a snack) and tell you things that are not especially significant as if they were. Subsequently, we can all be manipulated, albeit unintentionally, to tell people what they want to hear.

    Equally well, you get some amazing tips from people. Even if they don't deliver the answer perfectly into your lap, they can often send you down exactly the right road. As you know from our conversation elsewhere, you tipped me off to the over/undereating aspects of thyroid dysfunction, and only last night, while doing the aforementioned reading, I discovered some amazing things that I hadn't know that threw a whole new light on subclinical hypothyroidism. So, yes, these forums are absolutely invaluable, especially information from people you can rely on not to be of the b*tsh*t persuasion!

    And yes, it's hugely helpful when you get 'deflations' of accepted medical thought; without all the B12 info I got from the pernicious anaemia forum I would never have been able to win my doctor over into giving me B12 injections and I'd still be in pain and drugged up today. Doctors don't share this info - most of them don't even know it - so these forums are worth their weight in gold.

  • It helps to look for who will gain from the 'science / research' results. Where did the money come from to pay for it? Usually, whatever they say, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

  • Absolutely Lillian. The difficult thing is they can be VERY crafty about hiding that. But many times I've seen a study on, say, the great health benefits of chocolate, then a fortnight later I've seen the same study referred to by someone more knowledgeable and less keen to jump on the bandwagon, where they have revealed the study was done by the cocoa growers of X country, and immediately it changes perspective. But notably no-one was shouting that out first time around.

    Yahoo 'news' stories on health are full of this. You'll read some long thing only to get to the end and discover that the recommendation of taking Vitamin F for your health is because the 'authors' make the tablets! And these are the least sinister examples. Absolutely no doubt more dangerous things are done with drugs...

  • Please remember that this does not indicate science is 'bad'. It indicates that poorly done science or poorly reported research is bad! Lots of scientists are good guys too.

  • Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how good they are at their job, if the ultimate funder (usually a pharmaceutical establishment) who pays the bill disagrees because he has some new 'medical miracle' to peddle, all that expertise will be buried under an avalanche of irrelevance and we'll be subjected to the next 'statins'!

  • So thank God for the Malcolm Kendricks, eh, Zephyr?

  • Hear hear, Monkey! I just wish the good scientists would stand up and be counted. Too many of them run along with the herd because it is too 'difficult' to stand alone against the crowd. I think that's how we ended up here in the first place. We need more scientific integrity!

  • There is something that none realizes until you delve into a topic. That is scientific research is an evolving target with no clear cut answers. Even the tests that we ordered have either a false positive or a false negative rate. Moreover experimental studies with treatment and control groups often come with inconclusive results arising from more than one reason such as: statistical method may not fit the empirical data; sample sizes may make the results biased either in favor or against the treatment; lack of expertise to analyze and design the experiment; subject reaction variation to the treatment; and last but not least political interest to get government approval for the clinical results.

    In light of those issues what can the patient do? I say keep researching even if the findings appear contradictory, it will make you educated and more importantly it will allow you to find an explanation to your clinical symptoms and reactions. The more educated you are the better prepared you will be to ask smarter questions to your practitioner. And if you take supplements to help with the symptoms you will be wiser on what the side effects might be. Ultimately the one responsible for your health is you none else. I tend to see doctors as mechanics, some of them have lack the intuition to put all facts and theory together and some are very good at what they do and know how to use their tools, instruments, and diagnostic reports. Try to cross to their side as much as you can, it could improve your health outcome.

  • Hi Fornels. Yep, we're kind of obliged to cross to their side, whether we like it or not, in the UK, unless we are prepared to bankrupt ourselves. Speaking personally, I'd like to see them make more of an effort to cross to the patient's side; to think for one moment what it must be like to be lost, confused, upset, lonely, afraid. I'm afraid I've seen precious little empathy from doctors for what a patient is going though, even in the most basic way. But then I think that's because too many doctors go into the profession simply because their parents want or expect them to, or it's seen as a respectable profession. Those are not good reasons, and it makes for bad doctors.

  • Hi Chancery:

    Yes, you have to do your own research for your illness and also search for a good doctor that truly cares about your health.

    Wish you the best!

You may also like...