I love all things TED. I’d definitely rather watch TED than television.
Today I watched this excellent presentation:
This guy is a doctor and an epidemiologist who writes and talks about bad science. Bad studies, bad research, cherry picking data, and the inevitable bad presentation of those already bad findings. That makes it sound a little dry and possibly boring so here are a few quotes from his presentation in hopes of convincing you to spend 15 minutes listening to him:
On peer review-
That’s what happens at academic conferences. The Q&A session after a post-doc presents data is often a blood bath. And nobody minds that. We actively welcome it. It’s like a consenting intellectual S&M activity.
On something absurd stated by one of Britain’s diet gurus-
Now that’s not the only reason that we think this person is an idiot. She also goes and says things like, you should eat lots of dark green leaves, because they contain lots of chlorophyll, and that will really oxygenate your blood. And anybody who’s done school biology remembers that chlorophyll and chloroplasts only make oxygen in sunlight, and it’s quite dark in your bowels after you’ve eaten spinach.
On his idea for a solution-
I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant. All of these things are happening in plain sight, and they’re all protected by a force field of tediousness. And I think, with all of the problems in science, one of the best things that we can do is to lift up the lid, finger around in the mechanics and peer in.
That last bit is the most important part of his whole presentation I think. That bringing to light the truth of shoddy studies and poor reporting is the first step to better information and in return better opportunities for better health.
Being your own rat means gathering the best information you have available and then interpreting it against your own personal circumstances. That is so much easier when the science you are trying to use is honest and accurate.