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Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science.
At best, an MD will maybe keep up with the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA, they don't read the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, let alone some the little bit less known journals. They're not searching pub med for information. Look, I go to nutritional medicine conferences all the time and and it's always the same 300 Doctors at all of them. And there's over 100,000 doctors in America. The same 300 doctors show up to learn about nutrition. So the vast majority of them are just completely not aware of any of this.
Ioannidis laid out a detailed mathematical proof that, assuming modest levels of researcher bias, typically imperfect research techniques, and the well-known tendency to focus on exciting rather than highly plausible theories, researchers will come up with wrong findings most of the time. Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right.
“Even when the evidence shows that a particular research idea is wrong, if you have thousands of scientists who have invested their careers in it, they’ll continue to publish papers on it,” he says. “It’s like an epidemic, in the sense that they’re infected with these wrong ideas, and they’re spreading it to other researchers through journals.”
It is through the experimental method that science is carried forward--not through uncritically accepting the authority of academic or scholastic sources. In the experimental method, observable reality is our only authority. Bernard writes with scientific fervor:
”When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted”