How to determine what research to believe? How to determine what research to believe?

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Thread: How to determine what research to believe?

  1. #1
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    Default How to determine what research to believe?

    Hello Rip,

    I know that you have deeply invested yourself in science for your career as a coach and writer. Your knowledge of what is correct has been your success. One of my favorite posts by you on t-nation was about all the flunky "research" being done at universities about exercise science.

    I recently read research that suggests that fluoride can lower IQ and can cause reproductive problems. I thought at first that something like that is silly, but the tyrannical government puts that in the water supply, and it made me think that maybe it does have a negative effect on the population.

    How can I determine if this is real? How can I tell that this isn't a scam from people that are similar to the ones that claimed that Whole milk is unhealthy so they could sell more soy milk?

    Do you think this is a scam to sell more fluoride-free toothpaste, etc?

    What about those who claim animal products cause cancer?

    How do you yourself determine what you believe?

    Thanks,

    Appreciate everything you do,

    Matt

  2. #2
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    Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in the groundwater of some locations. Are the people in these areas more stupid? Are the children who are raised in ares where water is fluoridated suffering from lower IQs than children in other areas, and can the other factors that also affect IQ be controlled for in such studies? Is there are neurogical machanism postulated that would explain the stupidifying effect of fluoride? Correlation, or cause/effect? Does the effect of stupidity outweight the cost savings in dental care, and how could these effects be compared? Do stupid people with good teeth earn more money that smart people with rotting stumps in their mouths? Everybody who has cancer is also an animal. Science sure is hard.

  3. #3
    Brodie Butland is offline Starting Strength Coach
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt_217 View Post
    Hello Rip,

    I know that you have deeply invested yourself in science for your career as a coach and writer. Your knowledge of what is correct has been your success. One of my favorite posts by you on t-nation was about all the flunky "research" being done at universities about exercise science.

    I recently read research that suggests that fluoride can lower IQ and can cause reproductive problems. I thought at first that something like that is silly, but the tyrannical government puts that in the water supply, and it made me think that maybe it does have a negative effect on the population.

    How can I determine if this is real? How can I tell that this isn't a scam from people that are similar to the ones that claimed that Whole milk is unhealthy so they could sell more soy milk?
    By actually reading the studies and thinking about them yourself. The data supporting the view that saturated fat causes heart disease has always been dubious, at least in my view...we know this because we can actually read the studies and examine the data ourselves.

    Now do that with fluoride. Watch Sully's recent videos about how to read and dissect a scientific study. Find a study (not some guy's opinion on the John Birch Society webpage) that supposedly concludes that fluoride causes lower IQ or unspecified reproductive problems. Look at the data, the methodology, the conclusions, and the process the article had to go through before publication (for example, was it peer reviewed?). See if other studies by different groups have found similar conclusions (i.e., was the data reproducible?). Then do the same for studies that conclude the opposite.

    FWIW, I think you'll find that an honest evaluation of the research suggesting that fluoride causes lower IQ are about the same level of rigor as those suggesting that vaccines cause autism. That is to say, not seriously believed by those who honestly evaluate the research.

    Just postulating possible conspiracies or relying on your own government-is-tyrannical sensibilities to evaluate research conclusions is not particularly helpful. Industry-sponsored scientific studies can be very credible or very shitty. Likewise for scientific studies by independent or public organizations. Adherence to the scientific method is what determines the validity of a given study, not the scientists involved in it. Science is not flawed, scientists are.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt_217 View Post
    I thought at first that something like that is silly, but the tyrannical government puts that in the water supply, and it made me think that maybe it does have a negative effect on the population.
    One thing that is crucial is considering each argument individually based on its merits, and try to avoid falling into logical fallacies based on your own beliefs. For example, in the quoted statement, you are starting with the assumption/opinion the government is "tyrannical" and implying you think it is actively involved in discreetly causing harm to the populace; ergo the argument seeming plausible. But to me is seems that this process involves an ad hominem fallacy and/or an inverted argument from authority (the government is "tyrannical" and therefor up to something duplicitous), and potentially confirmation bias. If you remove or lessen those assumptions, does the claim still seem valid based on your analysis?

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    In regards to determining what to believe when reading research articles or papers a person can always search for other articles or research that can substantiate the original pieces claims. The great thing about proper research articles is that they outline their process completely and thoroughly (so we hope) so that others can conduct studies of their own replicating the same or similar conditions and reach the same conclusions. That being said it still isn't a foolproof process, it does take work to read and understand things on your own. Just read as much as possible to determine on your own what to believe.

  6. #6
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    Coach Sullivan's literature review videos are a great example of how to read scientific papers critically.

    e.g. 2016 Literature Review | Dr. Jonathon Sullivan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodie Butland View Post
    FWIW, I think you'll find that an honest evaluation of the research suggesting that fluoride causes lower IQ are about the same level of rigor as those suggesting that vaccines cause autism. That is to say, not seriously believed by those who honestly evaluate the research.
    In addition to Brodie's excellent post, consider that dosage matters. Everything, including fluoride, has toxicity at a certain dose. Target concentrations for water fluoridation do not typically result in fluoride toxicity (fluorosis), assuming reasonable daily water intake. Blatant disregard for this concept of dosage is incredibly common among histrionic "health bloggers" like the Food Babe.

    The suggestion that this is all a masterfully crafted operation to sell more fluoride-free toothpaste is laughable.

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    God! The Fluoride Wars so long dormant have crept out again like one of the foul escapes of Mirkwood?

    I thought this nonsense died out with the John Birch Society. Is this now a cause celebre of the alt right?

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    IDK, if you find yourself reading about chemtrails, mass fluoride poisoning, or wondering if a gluten free diet is right for you, maybe the nuances of science and it's various levels of evidence are lost on you...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E. Hurling View Post
    God! The Fluoride Wars so long dormant have crept out again like one of the foul escapes of Mirkwood?

    I thought this nonsense died out with the John Birch Society. Is this now a cause celebre of the alt right?
    Not that I am aware of but I think OP is referring to a craptastic "study" that came out Europe a while back. Another board took it apart bit by bit when it first popped but once published these things live on like the undead (especially in the BB community).

    There is a similar one floating around regarding clorinated pools vice salt pools. Playing whack-a-mole with these gets tiresome after a while.

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