I don't have that wish any longer and I will explain why.
Have you ever wondered why study findings are often contradictory? one article says coffee is bad for your health while another says the opposite? yet both are backed up by scientific studies. How can that be?
Here's how research data is often manipulated:
- Researchers omit pieces of data that don't fit the desired conclusions of the study.
- Researchers will scrap an entire study because the results weren't the ones hoped for.
- Researchers keep re-analyzing data using different methods to achieve the desired results.
Other ways accuracy is undermined:
- The vast majority of published research is never replicated or validated.
- Only a small percentage of research is ever published.
- Industry driven research is commonplace even though it is an obvious conflict of interest.
- The peer review process has political complications that do not promote honest evaluation.
Researchers at a Spain university reviewed data from 44 papers from the British Medical Journal and found statistical errors in 25% of the papers and in Nature, finding statistical errors at a rate of 38%.
Nicholas Steneck, PhD estimates there are 1500 cases of research fabrication every year in the U.S. with only about 20 ever being identified.
But why would a researcher risk publishing inaccurate or fraudulent results? Scientist's are under extraordinary pressure to have research papers published for reasons of:
- Job security
- Gaining tenure
- Securing grant money
Who is exerting all this pressure on scientist's anyway?
- Pharmaceutical companies who can benefit by increased drug sales with positive research findings.
- Educational institutions who benefit by securing more grant money with impressive research studies.
- Competition for publication in science and medical journals is fierce.
'Gold star's' are given to the scientist who comes up with the most promising or scariest claim, seemingly without regard for authenticity. This is only promoting the compromise of integrity in science. Rewards are bestowed for sensational claims rather that solid factual research.
One survey revealed that over 70% of early and mid career researchers "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the statement "The top people in my field are successful because they are more effective at 'working the system' than others". No, not because they are producing the best, innovative and well researched information. This is so wrong!
Let's say I work for a pharmaceutical company (never going to happen!) who has spent billions on the development of a new drug and my job is to conduct the clinical trials for the drug. What do you think happens to me if I can't get the results the pharmaceutical company needs in order to go forward with FDA approval? My job is probably in jeopardy as well as any future career in the pharmaceutical industry. But I have a family to support, I cannot lose my job. You can see how much of a stake I would have in the research results.
Even if I am an independent researcher I will still have a stake in the results. If I conclude with favorable findings, chances are good that the pharmaceutical company will be likely to request my services again in the future. So it would be in my best interest to produce favorable findings if I want more research contracts. I might convince myself there was no harm in omitting a small amount of data that might have raised unwanted questions.
Now imagine that a raw food company could afford to fork out the money necessary to conduct a large scale study say on raw food vs. processed food and the impact upon health. Well, they are going to be just as biased as the processed food companies who conduct research on their product. It's human nature!
This has eroded my confidence in scientific studies and now I tend to take them with a grain of salt.
There is also anecdotal evidence, which is based on a person’s observations of the world. It can be very useful for disproving generalizations because all you need is one example that contradicts any given claim. Don't you think there has to be a point at which a large volume of anecdotal evidence becomes scientifically accepted and is no longer 'anecdotal'? A tipping point per se.
There are many of tools for getting to the truth about how best to care for our furry friends. Through observation, knowledge of their physiology and evolutionary history we will gain an incredible awareness of their needs. Often, we know what the right choice is if we simply listen to our inner voice.