Mind Over Sports

Flawed Or Slanted Studies

Posted on: March 12, 2008

It is not unusual for the media to give wide exposure to flawed or slanted studies. One example is a study conducted with emotionally disturbed children. Researchers compared families in which there was a divorce with families that stayed together. They determined that when families stay together the likelihood of producing emotionally disturbed children is lessened. The research did not examine whether these children received love and nurturing, because this is behavior that is almost impossible to track, and even when tracked, involves a subjective evaluation. Research measures only what is measurable and ignores other non-measurable influences, thus producing conclusions that are excellent examples of Merton’s concept of the “reign of error.”

This kind of research reminds me of the story of the man who was on his hands and knees under a streetlight at night. Someone asked: “What are you doing on your hands and knees?”

“I lost a ten-dollar bill, and I’m looking for it,” the man said.

“Where did you lose it?”

“Over there in those bushes about twenty feet away.”

“Well, why are you looking over here?” he was asked.

To which he responded: “The light’s better.”

We always seem to look for answers where it’s most convenient to find them.

Another example of flawed — or purposely slanted studies — involves the relationship of the consumption of milk to the body’s calcium supply. There are many who believe drinking vast amounts of milk will build the calcium supply in bodies and strengthen bones. But, according to Dr. Julian Whitaker, this simply isn’t true. And this type of thinking is especially dangerous for pregnant women.

Dr. Whitaker maintains:

The best way to deplete your calcium supply is by consuming a steady diet of milk and meats. Both introduce to the body high amounts of protein, and excess amounts of protein cause calcium wasting. In order to get rid of the nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus, the body has to create urea and uric acid. Both of these create an acid condition in the blood that mobilizes calcium as a buffer. Calcium comes out of the bones and into the blood. Then when the kidneys rid themselves of the excess amounts of protein, they also rid themselves of the calcium. So a high-protein diet keeps a constant mobilization of our stored calcium from our bones right out into the urine.

Whitaker goes on to point out that cancer of the colon is a disease of excess protein. And he believes too much protein creates stress for kidneys.

But what about all the studies regarding the health benefits of milk and meat? Dr. Whitaker claims that many of these studies are being funded by the dairy and meat industries, producing results that are slanted.

And one final example of slanted research. There are many people in this country who suffer from migraine headaches, but have been told that their headaches are hereditary, or the result of stress, or a nervous condition. But the real reason may be they have eaten food containing MSG, monosodium glutamate. MSG is a chemical flavor enhancer — or additive — used for the purpose of masking inferior-quality processed foods. The Glutamate Association of the United States takes the position that there has been extensive scientific research to prove that there are no harmful effects of MSG. But it’s never been revealed who paid for the research. Some independent studies have shown that consuming MSG causes, in addition to migraines, irritability, cramps and diarrhea. Dr. John Olney, a neuroscientist, says MSG could even cause brain damage. And Dr. George R. Schwartz, in his book about the MSG syndrome, stated: “In the past 20 years, the additive (MSG) has been implicated in migraine headaches, asthma attacks, depression, premenstrual syndrome and reactions resembling epileptic seizures in children.” An yet, the federal government allows this dangerous chemical to be included in our food, especially in restaurant fare.

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