Friday, May 2, 2014

Inherent Flaws In Health Studies

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Studies about health are confusing because there's so much conflicting information. We can disprove one health study because it shows no direct link, no cause and effect. With health and medicine, nearly no study can prove direct cause and effect. It's not like chemistry or physics where you run an experiment and it'll work 99.99% of the time. With health there are too many variables. One hundred people can smoke, but not all one hundred will develop cancer. There's a link, a correlation, but it's not direct, it's not absolute. It's not like gravity.

Only a fool is absolutely sure

Hard science is pretty linear. You double the force, you double the output. Add two chemicals together, maybe there's an explosion. Add more of the chemicals together, the bigger the explosion. Health isn't like that. You can add something that seems to benefit you, but do too much and the health benefits start to disappear. Even when you exercise too much or try to eliminate calories, you can get worse instead of getting better. Easiest example is too much medicine and something good turns into something dangerous.

A lot of it is speculation. Some speculations just happens to be better than others.

Before you think a health study proves something absolutely or a study doesn't prove anything because there's no direct cause and effect, remember that health has no absolutes. We look for a single causality when there are an infinite amount of causes. You do the best you can with what you know. Judging a study then isn't based on the results but how they ran the study.

It's easy to run bad studies because neither a good study or a bad study can truly prove direct cause. This is why both will use "may be linked." Proof becomes subjective so there's a tendency to cherry pick data based on the outcome you want. If that's true, then it becomes hard to separate a good study from a bad one, unless you know what a good study involves.


Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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