[NAFEX] Fw: mychorizal fungal rip off?
Road's End Farm
organic87 at frontiernet.net
Sat Mar 28 11:52:43 EDT 2009
On Mar 28, 2009, at 10:05 AM, William C. Garthright wrote:
> And yes, there's a big problem with negative results not
> getting the publicity of positive results. But none of that is any big
> surprise, is it? What else would you expect? And if multiple
> researchers confirm the results, what difference does it make who
> the original study?
Suppose 100 independent studies are done.
Suppose 10 of them show a benefit. Suppose 10 of them show harm.
Suppose 80 of them show a wash (no overall benefits or harm), or
results too confusing to get anything from.
If all 100 are published and equally accessible, then any reasonable
person can tell that not enough is known about the subject to come to
any conclusions yet (and can probably also tell that either at least
some of the studies were poorly set up; and/or else not enough is yet
known about the subject to design the studies properly).
However, suppose only the studies that show a benefit actually get
published? Then you have what looks like a clear conclusion that there
is a benefit. Look, it was replicated 10 times!
If you're trying to produce cold fusion, things may be clearer.
However, in the area of human nutrition, there are huge numbers of
variables, many of them almost impossible to control for. Different
people digest things differently. Different people have different
genetics, different activity levels, different exposure to other
environmental factors, different other items in their diets. The item
being tested is also highly variable: different strains of blueberries,
blueberries grown under different conditions (climate, particular
weather, farming techniques), blueberries harvested at different
degrees of ripeness, different weather, even possibly at different
times of day; blueberries treated differently after harvest according
to huge numbers of other possible variables -- all of these factors can
affect the balance of the nutritional compounds in the specific
blueberries used in the study.
This means that even skilled and non-biased scientists, with unlimited
money and the best will in the world, are likely to get different
results from different studies. As humans can't be treated like lab
rats, portions of this problem are very hard to control for. As our
knowledge of how different nutritional aspects interact with each other
is, to put it mildly, incomplete, other aspects of the problem are also
very hard to control for.
All of this doesn't mean that we can't find anything out. But it does
mean that it's going to take considerable time to actually get good
evidence from which we really understand the results. This problem,
which is inherent to the situation, is made worse by the facts that a)
some (not all!) of the people doing studies are biased and/or
incompetent b) some (not all!) of the people choosing what to publish
are biased and/or incompetent c) there is a built in bias against
spending money and time to publish studies that are inconclusive, even
though the percentage of studies that are inconclusive is crucial
information in itself d) most news outlets reporting on studies either
understand none of this or don't care; their bias is having something
to publish that looks interesting. "Nutritional science doesn't
understand this yet, more work needs to be done" doesn't make much of a
Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
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