Much of what we see in newspapers, magazines and on TV regarding the sciences of nutrition, medicine and health is misleading or outright wrong. The amount of bad science foisted on the public is truly amazing. Sometimes it is the science itself that is badly done or the institution behind the research promoting its own agenda, but often it is the media reporters that slant the science to make a more sensational story. I ran across an author who thinks so keenly and critically that I wanted to point you to her blog/website. Her material is not for those with time only for the executive summary; she writes comprehensive, thorough material that takes some chewing – very readable, but you have to be willing to take in the whole story.
The author’s name is Sandy Szwarc, and she writes a prolific blog on the subjects of nutrition, health and related junk science. Find it at junkfood science. The article I read which I think is such an excellent example of critical thinking, and would urge you to read is Salt-Shaking News. In this work she cites the original article that caught her attention regarding the impact of salt consumption on health, then gives a series of following news stories that progressively distort the message, then reviews the actual study’s results and conclusions to highlight the media distortion. Finally, she takes the two earlier studies involved in this current “meta-study” and exposes their limitations as well as in the recent meta-study itself. The actual science proves to be far different than the media’s worry-filled reporting.
Critical thinking is usually a result of mountains of experience and being fooled often enough to realize that everyone starts from a set of assumptions and often stacks or perceives the evidence to support their initial beliefs. Personally, I’m not all that good at it and I admire it when I see it done well. On her blog she has a catalog of links to like-thinking writers, some of whom comment on health, nutrition and medical research, while others are social or political commentators. Another great writer in my mind is William Faloon of Life Extension Foundation. He is a very incisive thinker and puts volumes of evidence behind all of his writings and articles; he runs Life Extension magazine in that way – buckets of references to let you go to the sources if you wish to come to your own conclusions.
This is a good thing for me because I tend to be a ‘believer’, trusting what I hear and read until shown otherwise. I also tend to be a risk taker and so I am willing to experiment on myself with a new supplement if the science sounds plausible. For instance, I jumped on Leukic and Anator P-70, and am very stoked about the muscle-building results, totally ignoring the possibility that, just maybe, the ability to grow muscle cells might help cancer cells get the upper hand and grow faster as well. Hey – now is the moment of experience and nobody lives forever!
Good Living – Frank