Posts Tagged ‘scientific rigor’

Coronahype: Activity Trackers to Spot the Virus Early

May 29, 2020 — Hope and fear. These are powerful, related motivators readily available during the coronavirus pandemic. The motivations are not always clear, but many people are shoveling out claims about “game changers” for dealing with the virus that haunts us. Some of these supposed game changers turn out to be disastrous duds. So caution about coronahype is […]

Is Your Neighborhood Making You Fat? Maybe Not

May 25, 2020 — Play deserts, food deserts, food swamps. These are elegant metaphors to sell an appealing narrative. The story they tell is simple. Certain types of neighborhoods might cause obesity. Some researchers have found correlations between fast food outlets and obesity prevalence in some studies. Others have found that neighborhoods with more resources for physical activity have […]

What if Diet Books Had to Be Truthful?

May 21, 2020 — Some things, it seems, never change. Even, and perhaps especially, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, magical thinking about nutrition and diets persist. So publishers feed us a steady diet of diet books. More than most, Dr. Michael Greger has captured the purest essence of this genre in his bestselling book: How Not to […]

Who’s Immune to Conspiracy Theories?

May 20, 2020 — It seems like conspiracy theories are enveloping us. The new coronavirus was hatched in a lab and foisted on us by China! The one percent is manipulating the economy! Oh, my. It’s a long list that we can read and smugly think, we’re too smart to fall for that. Right? But on the other hand, […]

Pre-Op Weight Loss and Mortality, Cause and Effect

May 15, 2020 — It’s fascinating how readily people agree with the truth that correlation does not prove causation. Talk is cheap. But throw a study of correlation at them and poof! Caution evaporates. People leap from correlation to causality. So it is with a new study of pre-op weight loss and mortality after bariatric surgery. In JAMA Network […]

Captive to the Bias of an Attractive Narrative

May 11, 2020 — We’ve heard it many times before. Confronted with a daunting medical and scientific challenge, someone comes along to tell us that they can whisk away all that complexity. “I call it a beautiful puzzle,” said one person recently. He was describing how it really won’t be so hard to tame the coronavirus pandemic and get […]

Real Money, Imaginary Benefits of Supplements for Diabetes

May 4, 2020 — We’re learning a lot about health scams. When people feel scared and desperate, promises of a “game-changer” for a dread disease (e.g., COVID-19) can arouse passions. But an objective look at actual evidence brings the truth into view. Then the scam becomes a mess for people who fell for it. That experience should be instructive […]

Imagination Running Wild in Research

May 1, 2020 — Sometimes human creativity simply makes our heads spin. Take this example of imagination running wild in obesity research. Last year, Frontiers in Psychiatry published a study of the possible placebo effect of an imaginary low-calorie diet. The diet was a fiction – no reduction in calories. What’s not to like about an imaginary placebo effect? […]

COVID-19: Critical Thinking Versus Unreasonable Doubt

April 27, 2020 — What is the line that separates critical thinking from unreasonable doubt? A contrarian can save us from making grievous errors by failing to question false assumptions. But sometimes a contrarian view and insistent bias are nearly impossible to distinguish. COVID-19 is offering us many such examples. One of them comes at intersection of COVID-19 with […]

A Model for Curing Childhood Obesity in Mexico

April 26, 2020 — When reality is filled with pesky problems, people need an escape. With a new paper in Pediatric Obesity Rossana Torres‐Álvarez et al offer us such an escape. They describe a model for the effectiveness of beverage taxes to reduce childhood obesity in Mexico. Based on assumptions that these taxes will work, they built their model. […]