View Full Version : Why it's important to actually read the science.


Amtram
01-10-13, 01:56 PM
Here's the provisional abstract:

Background

Research on the role of diet in the prevention of depression is scarce. Some evidence suggests that depression shares common mechanisms with cardiovascular disease.
Discussion

Before considering the role of diet in the prevention of depression, several points need to be considered. First, in general, evidence has been found for the effects of isolated nutrients or foods, and not for dietary patterns. Second, most previous studies have a cross-sectional design. Third, information is generally collected though questionnaires, increasing the risk of misclassification bias. Fourth, adequate control of confounding factors in observational studies is mandatory.
Summary

Only a few cohort studies have analyzed the relationship between overall dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, and primary prevention of depression. They have found similar results to those obtained for the role of this dietary pattern in cardiovascular disease. To confirm the findings obtained in these initial cohort studies, we need further observational longitudinal studies with improved methodology, as well as large randomized primary prevention trials, with interventions based on changes in the overall food pattern, that include participants at high risk of mental disorders.



Pretty easy to understand that it's scientists who are proposing research to see if there actually IS a connection between nutrition and depression because there's a connection between nutrition and cardiac health, and cardiac health and depression. It's not even a study. It's a hypothesis being put out there in preparation for designing a study if it's strong enough to warrant the money and other resources.



But here are the headlines:
Fast Food Linked to Depression | Psych Central News

Trans-Fats Linked to Increased Depression Risk

Link between fast food and depression confirmed

Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of ...

Study finds fast food consumption raises depression risk

Depression Risk Higher With Trans Fats, Lower With Olive Oil ...

Link between fast food, depression "confirmed"

Fast Food Diet Increases Risk of Depression by More than Fifty ...

Junk food is not just bad for your waistline... it can give you the blues ...

Where, I ask you, is any of that in the provisional abstract? This is the problem with getting your science news from the media. Heck, I was directed to this in the first place from a site that's supposed to provide actual medical information. Although the article was sufficiently vague to allow a perspicacious reader to see that these were not actual findings, the title was clearly written by an SEO, and from there flowed this tide of misinformation.

If you see something like this, for heaven's sake, backtrack to the source. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Dizfriz
01-10-13, 03:12 PM
All too true and a great point. This is why I am very cautious and even skeptical about any media reporting on research until I check it out.

I think the best rule is not to put too much weight on anything like this until the study has been replicated at least several times. There are some exceptions with very well designed studies but even then, caution is advised.


Dizfriz

Drewbacca
01-10-13, 03:57 PM
"There's no room for science, we have books to sell!!!"

(quote adapted by something I saw on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Time, HuffPO, NYT, etc... because our reports are about as dependable as a review in a trade magazine that will lose it's ad funding unless we give their newest crap product a favorable review).

Subtract81
01-10-13, 03:59 PM
A general rule is to not blindly trust a source with potential vested/conflicts of interests, even scientific studies are not beyond bias, this makes ambiguous areas such as this rich pickings for misinformation and 'snake oil salesmen'.

If nobody stands to gain financially you are far more likely on solid ground scientifically speaking.

Drewbacca
01-10-13, 04:11 PM
If nobody stands to gain financially you are far more likely on solid ground scientifically speaking.

There's always something to gain... if not financial, ego. Flawed or not, an actual journal article is held to a higher standard and doesn't edit out 99% of the findings. I'm fine with academic articles, as they actually lay out how the data was obtained thus leaving me with the opportunity to weigh the conclusions for their value regardless of who is funding the research.

None the less, if you don't understand the small-print and finer points of a scientific article (which wouldn't exist in a non-science report), there are always others studies to consider which either support or reject the proposed theory. Biased or not, a scholarly article will cite previous research used. Academic journals may not be perfect, but they definitely deserve more respect than "look at the funding source."

The decision that a reader makes, regarding whether a researcher has something to gain financially is 9 times out of 10 a subjective decision anyways. Of course, there are occasions where such research is obviously biased; but those tend to only appear in advertising and not the peer circles studying a given problem.

mildadhd
01-10-13, 04:28 PM
Drewbecca,


Could you tell me what attunement is?

Lunacie
01-10-13, 05:13 PM
It's about time research was being done on the interconnectedness of all this.

There have been suggestions that Migraine disorder is linked to cardio-vascular
disease, as well as being related to neurologic disorders.

There have been suggestions that Autism and other mental disorders are linked
to 'leaky gut syndrome.'

Western medicine is very late to the idea of inter-connectedness.

When I was younger everything was divided into just three categories:
mental, physical, emotional. Some added a fourth category: spiritual.

All must be inter-connected in some way, and finally Western science is
looking at how things are connected.

Amtram
01-10-13, 05:25 PM
These provisional abstracts exist in the first place to put out feelers to see if there is interest in supporting a study and also kind of asking for other scientists who might have relevant information they might like to share. It's sort of like a work proposal. It goes out before grant requests are written, and it's shopped around to organizations that might contribute to the research.

Claiming that a provisional abstract has shown results is like reading a request for bids on a road project in the local paper and then changing all the GPS programs in the world to show a new route has already been built.

That was the point. The article titles, based on the non-information in the provisional abstract, were deliberately obtuse. Irony is people being deliberately obtuse about deliberate obtuseness. It's different from just reading it wrong, Lunacie!

anonymouslyadd
01-10-13, 09:38 PM
"There's no room for science, we have books to sell!!!"
The media offers some benefits to society, but it's a business. Businesses need to make money. They attract our attention with eye-catching story titles like "Study suggests link between ADHD and chemicals" or "Source: 'They made me take steroids to hit better.'"

The news is fast. Science is slow. The media is so powerful. Science needs the media. I believe people are more likely than not to believe something if a newspaper prints it.

As consumers, we need to understand that the media tries to get our attention with the most controversial and provocative stories. They cover an event looking for the most interesting story to write about.

mildadhd
01-10-13, 10:05 PM
The media offers some benefits to society, but it's a business. Businesses need to make money. They attract our attention with eye-catching story titles like "Study suggests link between ADHD and chemicals" or "Source: 'They made me take steroids to hit better.'"

The news is fast. Science is slow. The media is so powerful. Science needs the media. I believe people are more likely than not to believe something if a newspaper prints it.

As consumers, we need to understand that the media tries to get our attention with the most controversial and provocative stories. They cover an event looking for the most interesting story to write about.


Interesting,

There is a huge movement in Canada in regards to social media,

I've been observing the grassroots media for a few months.

Grassroots has a community ground up approach,

rather than a global on down approach,

the difference is fascinating.

Because the grassrrots involves people that are effected by the story,

where as the global media is not connected so much with the people affected by the story.

Grassroots social media might be the one of the most powerful tools I have ever witnessed.

Amtram
01-10-13, 10:29 PM
Science and scientific institutions are trying to take advantage of social media, too, but there are more SEOs in higher-profit enterprises than there are in science research. Pretty much all of those misconstrued headlines were composed for ad-driven media outlets.

anonymouslyadd
01-11-13, 03:39 AM
Interesting,

There is a huge movement in Canada in regards to social media,

I've been observing the grassroots media for a few months.

Grassroots has a community ground up approach,

rather than a global on down approach,

the difference is fascinating.

Because the grassrrots involves people that are effected by the story,

where as the global media is not connected so much with the people affected by the story.

Grassroots social media might be the one of the most powerful tools I have ever witnessed.
Social media diminishes the regular media's influence. Over 50% of people polled in one study get their breaking news through social media. The newspaper I interned at looked like a ghost town in the news room.

We're very fortunate for social media on many fronts. This gives us some power. However, the regular media is still pertinent.

tudorose
01-11-13, 08:32 AM
I wonder if they put these wild sweeping statements out there in an attempt to attract funding for a study.

Amtram
01-11-13, 09:35 AM
Actually, if you look at the sites for the institute and the author, there are no extraordinary claims. The problem is that in print and online, authors get paid a small fee for each article submitted, so they go for quantity over quality. On top of that, titles are usually made up by SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) whose job is to write up something that will appear on the first or second page on a search.

Sometimes the titles bear little resemblance to the articles. Unfortunately, sometimes they do. Science journalism is pretty abysmal as it is, sensationalism sells, and since science education isn't so hot, either, people lap this stuff up without question.

Amtram
01-13-13, 09:48 PM
This is an interesting blog pos (http://deevybee.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/genetic-variation-and-neuroimaging-some.html)t about the importance of accurate reporting. . .the difference is that the author is addressing researchers, rather than journalists. She touches on some of the problems that plague science journalism, too, though.

Amtram
01-14-13, 06:44 PM
This thread has been edited; please post on topic and be respectful towards other members.