Studies and the Studiers Who Study Them

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Studies and the Studiers Who Study Them

Post by VintageGeek » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:37 pm

So I've given up coffee. There are various reasons behind this decision, none of which are particularly important for the purpose of this thread.

As I was researching caffeine addiction, I came across some startling information about caffeine itself - primarily, how it works and what it can do to your body after a long time. (I promise this isn't going to turn into a preach session in which I try and convince all of you to give up coffee.)

I began to consider the nature of the few studies I read that supported and encouraged caffeine consumption. They all sounded like advertisements for pharmaceuticals. Yes, yes, there's a list of possible destructive side effects, but look at all the good things that can happen if you use it properly! Look at how happy this person is! In other words, they're basically commercials. Which leads me to the sneaking suspicion that studies "proving" the benefits of caffeine may very well be funded by coffee companies themselves.

In essence, every study needs to have funding. Further, it seems to me that every study performed these days has a specific goal the researchers are trying to achieve: "We're trying to prove that this happens..." "We're trying to disprove this guy's theory..." It makes sense that, say, Starbucks might shove a couple million dollars into a laboratory and say, "Make us look good."

I wouldn't put it past them. As for the researchers themselves, I imagine that, just like with any other profession, for every 100% honest one, there are three who are desperate, dishonest, or greedy enough to at least phrase things a certain way so that something sounds better than it should.

So what this rambling comes down to is: Do you ever feel like the "studies" touted by magazines and internet articles are trying to deceive you? Does it seem wrong to anyone else that something we should be able to rely on (scientific research) might be just as flawed and manipulative as commercial advertising? Do you think I'm just dead wrong and should stop thinking about stuff like this?

I'm interested to know what people think.

(PS: I just wanted to add that, having done both, I can say with some certainty that giving up coffee has been way, way harder than giving up cigarettes. I cannot explain this.)
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Post by Thalia » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:14 pm

I think it's a combination of things. Some studies (like the infamous "milk aids weightloss" one) are paid for by industry groups, and they massage the data considerably -- not out and out lying, but phrasing things in the most positive possible light, and not reporting negative results at all.

In other cases, people are honestly trying to isolate a possible effect that's difficult to isolate, find a mild or ambiguous result, and it gets misreported in the press. So the people involved in most cases aren't corrupt or unethical at all, but lab scientists are as susceptible as anyone else to confirmation bias (finding what you hope to find), and then their results don't get reported accurately in the popular press, because "there might be a slight effect for some people, or not, because our sample set is too small to tell for sure" doesn't make a sexy headline.

I think a lot of magazine and lifestyle writers are not particularly judges of what's a reliable source, either, so they're susceptible to picking up canards and conventional wisdom just like the rest of us, hence the spate of "You simply MUST drink eight to ten glasses of water, or suffer from chronic dehydration!" articles a few years ago. Basically, nobody understands nutrition and diet particularly well, including the people we are looking to as "experts." There's also an awful lot of quacky scare information on the Internet about the dangers of just about any substance you could possibly ingest, so the misleading and flawed reporting goes both ways.

As far as caffeine, I'm not a coffee or tea-drinker myself, but I think the evidence that it can have mild positive effects is actually pretty good as such things go. I wouldn't give it up if I liked it, but I'm not going to start drinking something I don't enjoy just because it might have health benefits either.

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Post by navin » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:45 pm

A few thoughts.

Studies *should* try to prove or disprove something - that's the whole scientific method. You start with a hypothesis, come up with an experiment to test that, and then evaluate the results.

The quality studies depend a lot on how well they are run - two big factors being the sample size, and whether additional variables are controlled for. A good study should be repeatable - that is, other independent research should be able to confirm the results. And they should be peer-reviewed as well.

If a study is well-designed and peer reviewed, then it shouldn't matter who funded it. Where bias comes into play most of the time is the results that *aren't* published. For instance, a drug manufacturer may run 10 well-designed studies on their drug, but only publish the one that has favorable results.

So all and all I don't think the studies themselves are the problems. However the general misinterpretation of the results is. One study in and of itself doesn't prove much, but if other well-designed studies can repeat those results, then you're onto something. But yes, so often one study is overblown into a big headline, when really it might not mean much at all. Or the opposite, good, well-designed studies are ignored for whatever reasons..

And don't get me going on manipulating statistical results.... :shock:
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Re: Studies and the Studiers Who Study Them

Post by Andsc1980 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:15 am

Study with coffee is the best combination, coffee help us to consentrate on our study and help in to do long time study also. But make sure don't addicted to it, I saw some writer reviews at and that time I needed a writer. That writer gave me this tip and it is really great, he also told me that never to addicted that take it i limit.

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