I had an interesting opinion piece come across my desk this week, "The illusion of evidence-based medicine," and it made me think of two great essays I read back in nutrition school.
I was so lucky that my three-year Holistic Nutrition degree included courses to learn about research. I learned not only how to find research, but also how to research, research. It is easy enough to find a paper on a particular topic, but reading it, understanding it and criticizing it is a powerful skill. Something that if you do not complete a highly comprehensive health program or learn yourself, you will always lack vital knowledge with serious consequences.
For many reasons, the last two years have been insane. What confuses me is that we have remarkable doctors, scientists, and researchers who have access to the same information, but we have these mad and polar opposite opinions. But is this information the same, or do we gravitate towards certain information, prejudices, or conclusions that settle better with our ideologies?
I think that unless you can get to the source of a scientific claim, read, understand, and critique the findings, you will be nothing but a slave to your own ideologue and cultivated prejudice.
Perhaps 2020 would set the perfect conditions for wildly conflicting opinions that would lead us on a path that would never reach an agreed consensus. Prolonging us into conflict and a divided society is a controllable one. I believe the above papers explain beautifully how science is so untrustworthy in 2022.
First of all, it should not be surprising that the scientific foundation of medicine, evidence-based medicine, is significantly but insidiously compromised. Take a key point from this blog - most of the data from clinical trials are conducted by the same industry that will benefit from its place in the market, the pharmaceutical industry. The reports then add the names of senior scientists. It is scandalous, and until it is sorted out, evidence-based medicine will always remain a fantasy.
Openness and transparency are the theme behind any plan to repair such a broken system. The present paradigm is far from open and transparent. Why? What do they have to hide? Do they assume we are too stupid to understand "all" the data?
This should spark some thought process.
Information ownership is incredibly powerful and profitable. Take a look at any of the big social media companies. If pharmaceutical companies conduct trials themselves and own the data behind this study, the room for wickedness is enormous. They can suppress results that do not serve the intended outcome, do not report adverse events, and limit access to raw data completely. Something crucial for the necessary peer review. How can an independent reviewer do a good job with incomplete data? They cannot, the results are concluded and drafted before a trial participant is registered.
This is a great time to share that clinical trials are funded and conducted by pharmaceutical companies, which rarely produce results that are unfavourable to the company's products. Big Pharma seems to get the results it wants almost always. Suspect much?
Looking back on the history of science, so much scientific effort yields zero true scientific data. But in recent years, we have somehow seen nothing but positive results from these studies. This is not science, it is sponsored trials in motion.
Medical journals are an extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmeceutical Companies, goes deeper into how they do this, it is much more creative than simply fudging results. For example, they ask the right questions. There are many ways favourable results are created. When you learn to research research, these are almost unmissable. You just need to know what you are doing.
I will not go deeper into this topic, because the mentioned papers do a much better job than I could ever do. I just want people to start researching, investigating and discovering for themselves. I've had far too many conversations in the past year where people send me "their research," but it's flawed beyond reason.
We have to take our intellect back and side our prejudices. Otherwise, we are in the non-science game and look at where that has brought us.
Have the best day, and please, learn how to research, research.
Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP