“When scientists die, their published papers live on—even if they’re based on lies. Downloaded in seconds from anywhere in the world, fake results continue to steal other scientists’ time, influencing their choice of which research avenues to follow and which trials to design and seek ethical approval for.” (here)
When I wrote my blog last week Taking Apart Bad Science, I had not yet read the article from which I took the quote above. Coincidentally that article and my blog published on the same day.
What Bad Science Is & What It Does
Good scientific findings make the news much less often than headlines based on bad science. Unfortunately, the science you hear on TV or read about in newspapers is more likely to be bad science than real science. What do I mean by bad science? Bad science can be bad for two reasons:
- A research or theory that cannot be replicated or the data collected is used incorrectly by the wrong statistical analysis due to lack of enough academic knowledge or sheer ignorance.
- A research or theory that manipulates the data and/or the statistical analysis to find support for whatever theory or agenda the researchers originally had in mind, regardless of what the data shows
While both types of bad science are harmful, the second type is obviously worse, not just because the data are manipulated deliberately and thus fake information is presented, but also because it is done intentionally and therefore the authors of such papers would never voluntarily admit to wrongdoing. Society is led astray with the wrong information.
Bad science is demonstrated well in the article about Yoshihiro Sato (see above) and by a spoof paper that was accepted by over 100 academic journals, even though the paper had no meaning.
While on the surface some of this may seem humorous, such bad science has a ripple-effect through every single area that science touches, including funding of future research on connected subjects, the scientists livelihood in the field of that subject, the inability to publish against the spoof article by followers of real science. Crucially in the case of health care, as in the low carbs diets’ deadly effects paper I reported on August 17, 2018, it can hurt millions of sick people whose healthcare will be the wrong type.
From the Sato article, I am showing here an excellent image that demonstrates the ripple-effect of bad science on institutions, funding, etc.
As you can see, the ripple-effect extends to thousands of scientists in the future, basing their hypotheses on the original bad science, and so the bad outcome can be several magnitudes higher than that of the original bad research paper.
This is very similar to the most famous American example of such bad science that was created by Ancel Keys 7-Country Study, in which he cherry picked data from those countries that fit his hypothesis, which was that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Ancel Keys’ bad science started off a ripple-effect that still blocks science from advancing further today. Few scientists are funded to go after research that opposes Ancel Keys’ theories and the USDA food guidelines have been based on Ancel Key’s bad data findings. Nearly 50 years after his bad science, researchers whose hypotheses are based on this bad science are still funded and produce more and more bad research papers in many academic journals.
The outcome of the bad science from Ancel Keys’ research has so far managed to create a metabolic disease crisis in most countries of the world, with obesity and chronic insulin resistance skyrocketing, as do health-care related costs for both government and individuals.
The Sham Science of Today
An example of such sham science was published on August 16, 2018 in The Lancet Public Health, announcing that low carbohydrate diets reduce lifespan, thereby starting a new ripple that will change the meaning of all nutrition-researchers past work and future research and livelihood, based on bad science. This article, which is completely faulty from data collection to analysis and with data and statistical analysis manipulations (clearly readable in the paper hiding in plain sight), is exacerbated by media titles, akin to “low carbs diet causes death”.
The ripple-effects of this paper will stop research funds for scientists who have been working for decades showing that low carbohydrate diets reverse type 2 diabetes (here and here), obesity, heart conditions, and much success has already been reported in cancer research, Alzheimer’s disease, and it is also used for seizure control.
It now will prevent doctors and nutritionists from helping their patients reverse their health conditions, who will instead be placed on seriously debilitating medications for life–a life that will be shortened by their disease.
Unfortunately, as the Sato example shows us above, even post-mortem, bad science still may be the basis of science. He may not be alive and his articles may already be retracted, yet his bad science lives on. My suspicion is that even if The Lancet Public Health retracts the article “Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis“, unless it is done really fast, the bad data will be disseminated for years to come, misleading hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scientists, and millions of people’s lives will be at stake.
Your opinions are welcome and are moderated for appropriateness,