May 1, 2014

Junk Science Is Big Business

Junk science and studies are big business and the number of fabricated studies is growing by the day. What drives this big business? Money supplied by Big Pharma, Food, and Ag. What makes it so easy to fund these phony studies and obtain the ridiculous results? Money supplied by – you guessed it – Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Agriculture. Then add to this Big Chemical.

Today it seems the mainstream media is always screaming about the latest study “proving” that supplements are bad and drugs are good. However, the “research” behind these headlines has been funded, manipulated, and packaged by Big Pharma.

Some to the techniques behind this include publication bias, “seeding” trials, ghostwritten studies, “perfect” patients, deceptively low doses, questionable methodologies, cherry-picking conclusions, skewed meta-analyses, tiny sample sizes, overly brief study periods, parroting press releases, reliance on Big Pharma’s advertising dollars, and hidden funders.

There are other methods used, but all are driven by money and how easy it is to hide conflicts of interest. All “researchers” are subject to this and don't argue that some are exempt. Even universities are part of this and have highly concealed conflicts of interest.

Many studies using participants strive for the “perfect” participant (or patient) who will provide the desired result. This is the reason that many participants are rejected. Think of the studies to undermine self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) where people that knew the value of blood glucose testing are eliminated from studies. Little or no education is given to the participants to prevent them from learning how to evaluate the testing and improve their lives by testing with a purpose. In addition, once the study is over, they receive no additional testing supplies or test strips.

Cherry-picking conclusions, skewed meta-analyses, tiny sample sizes, and overly brief study periods are often used together, but don't be surprised if only two of the four are used. Skewed meta-analyses and cherry-picking conclusions are often used together when there are many studies available. This allows the researchers to look for studies that arrive at the conclusions they want to promote.

Tiny sample sizes and overly brief study periods are popular when they know that longer study periods will yield results that don't fit what they are looking for reporting. They reduce the number of participants to have people that will also fit what they are attempting. What they are trying to prevent is having unexplainable outliers that would easily negate the study results.

If it had not been for Gretchen Becker and Jenny Ruhl, I would have continued learning only from the College of Hard Knocks and I urge you to read my blog and the links. When you have completed that, then you may have interest in this article of how Big Pharma and the Media sell junk science. Some of the headlines at the bottom of the article have crossed my computer screen and I have much the same reaction and moved on looking for reliable research.

This also helps explain why I get snarky with some of my blogs when I realize they are fake science. Reliable research is becoming scarce and harder to find. I enjoy reading a blog by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick as he does a lot of research on the topic of fake studies and he likes to report on misconduct by researchers and Big Pharma. He also writes about conflicts of interest.

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