Nutrition “Science”

A fraud is exposed, but it’s a much larger problem:

Data dredging is fairly common in health research, and especially in studies involving food. It is one reason contradictory nutrition headlines seem to be the norm: One week coffee, cheese and red wine are found to be protective against heart disease and cancer, and the next week a new crop of studies pronounce that they cause it. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said that many researchers are under enormous pressure to churn out papers. One recent analysis found that thousands of scientists publish a paper every five days.

I liked this:

“P-hacking is a really serious problem,” said Dr. Ivan Oransky, a co-founder of Retraction Watch, who teaches medical journalism at New York University. “Not to be overly dramatic, but in some ways it throws into question the very statistical basis of what we’re reading as science journalists and as the public.”

You don’t say.

It goes far beyond nutrition. A lot of drug research is based on this sort of thing as well, including the statin scam.

2 thoughts on “Nutrition “Science””

  1. It goes beyond p-hacking. There is a place for null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). You use it when you have little idea of the dynamics of your system. Apply it to a bunch of raw data and you can quickly find real correlations (in among the p-hacking noise) to inform the model you would then build.

    But when a field uses NHST for half a century or more, that means that they aren’t model-building and thus, aren’t progressing scientifically. We should ask why this is considered acceptable.

  2. “For more than a year, Dr. Wansink had been dogged by accusations that many of his studies were riddled with errors, data inconsistencies and evidence of fraud.”
    Well, how come none of this was detected in the peer review process? That’s what it is supposed to do, right?

    ““You can analyze observational studies in very different ways and, depending on what your belief is — and there are very strong nutrition beliefs out there — you can get some very dramatic patterns,” Dr. Ioannidis said.
    He and other experts have called for reform in nutrition science. They say that researchers should publicly register their study protocols beforehand to eliminate data dredging, share their raw data to increase transparency, focus on large randomized controlled trials to produce better results, and refrain from slicing and dicing large observational data sets into multiple papers that magnify weak findings.”
    I wonder to what degree this can also apply to climate science?

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