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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

False Assumptions - Jumping to false conclusions

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: False Assumptions - Jumping to false conclusions

Many in our industry jump to false conclusions to promote a product, idea, or program. I would love for us to discuss some of the false conclusions in the industry? Check out the paragraphs below for an example…

In the example below, Phil Kaplan does a wonderful job of pointing out a false conclusion:

Phil Kaplan is onto something in the following paragraphs:

"Want to be healthy? Really healthy? Eat anti-oxidants. So says the science.

Anti-oxidants scavenge and reduce free radicals. Fact. Free radicals do cellular damage and contribute to the development of disease including cancer. We can therefore assume if we reduce free radicals we reduce the likelihood of cancer. Let’s go further . . .

Research has evidenced that blueberries have the highest anti-oxidant content of twenty common fruits tested. So, here’s a conclusion. If you want to beat cancer eat blueberries.

This appears to make scientific sense . . . until you look for the research and find . . . . there’s not a single shred of evidence that eating blueberries reduces cancer. Nope. Not a shred.

It’s the habitual theorizing of researchers, writers, and marketers that leads to the “this cures that” rumors and assumptions.

Alcohol kills bacteria. Fact. The most common sexually transmitted diseases are spread through bacterial exchange.

Vodka contains alcohol. Can we then conclude that drinking alcohol after sexual contact protects you from STDs? Of course not, but it’s the same stretch of science that leads us to believe chocolate protects the heart, tea burns fat, and an apple a day keeps us well.

Of course we want to eat natural foods including those rich in vital phytonutrients and anti-oxidants but . . . to claim a single food, nut, or fruit “protects” one from any disease is wishful thinking at best. In order to evidence the link between food and disease, we’d have to view a significant sampling of humans living under equal conditions with the only variable being their overall diet."

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on January 19th, 2013

Brent Brookbush - I feel like I explain the scientific method, what research is actually capable of, and why anecdotal evidence is only slightly better than no evidence at all at almost every lecture I teach. Whether we talk about cleanses, the paleo diet, electrical stimulation, flexibility training, or high intensity exercise and risk of injury… so few people seem to know the research that support or refute their claims… Now, that unto itself is not the issue, there is always room for innovation and research will always lag behind (it has to, you can't research something before it exists and you probably will not get funding before it's popular). But… rather than considering other similar research, developing a theoretical model, or trying to find a means of starting research we replace the scientific method with either…. "Well, I believe….," or "This is what worked for me, so…"

This is not okay… case study research (what worked for you) is the weakest form of research. That is not an opinion that is a fact. Case studies and anecdotal evidence are rarely used for more than a pilot study, a teaching tool, or as documentation of an extremely rare event.

January 19 at 12:05pm

Brent Brookbush The worst part about this type of "Well… I believe" thinking, is you shift the conversation from a scientific debate to an emotional blood bath. For example, cited research in a discussion is not information to consider, but an attack on someone's beliefs and an attempt to hurt their feelings. Even worse, often the person with the research and scientific method is made to feel like the bad guy because feelings were hurt.

What is my point… We need to step up our intellectual game, and dial back the promotion, marketing, and emotion.

Blueberries don't cure cancer, alcohol is more likely to get you an STD than prevent one, there is no research to promote cleanses but early research is highlighting dangers, research shows static stretching is the most effective way to increase flexibility, research does show a link between exercise intensity and risk of injury…

Now that I went on my rant, I hope everyone will open up a bit

January 19 at 12:13pm

Barbara Kay Agreed - being in the academic world and on an editorial board for a health sciences journal, I can tell you that there is a lot of weak research with little power and statistical significance. Another problem is the bias reporting of results. Even if a study contains a lot of subjects, you still have researchers who will only test or report on procedures or treatments that support their hypotheses rather than the entire scope of the study. There is shadiness everywhere, unfortunately.

January 19 at 12:16pm

Barbara Kay And we also have to be careful about "cause and effect" statements because most research only shows correlations. Until longitudinal studies are done for years to test hypotheses and consistencies of outcomes, we really can't make definite recommendations about anything. Take birth control pills, ephedrine, etc. We are still finding potential negative long term effects of birth control pills since the 70s. And we continually see products such as ephedrine put on and then taken off the market because of new research was found.

January 19 at 12:22pm

Billie Savage I don't think anybody says blueberries cure cancer. Cancer is the result of an interaction between an individual and the environment, and it's hard for the traditional scientific model to account for bio diversity, though they are beginning to take treatment in that direction.

January 19 at 12:52pm

Brent Brookbush Hey Billie Savage, There is amazing stuff happening in cancer research. I just read something about gene therapy and cancer treatments… absolutely amazing stuff that reads like a science fiction novel, only it's science fact!!!

So why do we let people get away with statements like "blueberries cure cancer" or "tiger balm cures back pain" or everyone should do "Olympic lifts"

January 19 at 1:02pm

Billie Savage We shouldn't. The problem is that there are a lot of ignorant people out there. You're doing a good job of educating them though

January 19 at 1:14pm

Brent Brookbush I was just going to ask if you think this is a motivation problem, quality education issue, or the need for regulation? For example, do we need better educational models, do people need to be enticed perhaps monetarily, or do we need some board that "cracks down" on individuals who cannot back up their claims with quality evidence?

January 19 at 1:22pm

Billie Savage It really depends on the issue. For instance with olympic lifts, it's question of education. I just bought a DVD from Wil Fleming- a lifting proponent - where he explains really well that they are not for everybody. As far as health stuff goes, I think we must bear in mind that we don't know that much yet. People will always look for simple answers to complex issues. I think the public should be much more skeptical of health claims that involve them buying something, that at least would be a good start. Some things make me mad (Paleo!) because they are based on incorrect, illogical assumptions and dogma. Beware of dogma, and that goes for us too.

January 19 at 1:41pm

Brent Brookbush Nicely said Billie Savage - "People will always look for simple answers to complex issues."

January 20 at 10:32am

Mark Jamantoc I have two things I am mentioning in this thread. One is related to Physical Therapy and FALSE ASSUMPTIONS. One of my peers, Austin Woods and I were recently discussing a certain TV shows' CLAIM about Physical Therapy. In fact, it was a therapist from …See More

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January 22 at 10:36am

Mark Jamantoc The second premise I am mentioning in terms of HIGH QUALITY STUDIES on CANCER RESEARCH is to go for the foremost cancer researchers. Who else but DR. Maria Blasco, the head of the Barcelona Cancer Research Institute. She is working with Dr. …See More

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January 22 at 10:44am

Brent Brookbush Thanks for the posts Marc Mark Jamantoc. I saw that Dr. Oz thing… Definitely did a wonderful job of reinforcing a horrendous stereotype in physical therapy. Almost bad as the rub, ice, & e-stim mantra of old. The fact, that anyone thought that is…See More

January 22 at 10:52am

Mark Jamantoc Check out the timeline of Rick Daigle and his email to Dr Oz and associates

January 23 at 3:27pm

© 2014 Brent Brookbush

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