If you like seeing bad science and bad policy ripped apart by someone with a sharp wit, I can’t recommend Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s blog highly enough.  (Same goes for his book The Great Cholesterol Con.)

In one of his recent posts, titled Proving that black is white, he demonstrates how researchers managed to torture their data in order to reach a conclusion that was the opposite of what the raw data revealed. Their conclusion, of course, is that elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease in old people.

Here are a couple of quotes from Dr. Kendrick:

I remember when I first read this paper a few years ago. My initial thought was to doubt that it could be true. Most of the evidence I had seen strongly suggested that, in the elderly, a high cholesterol level was actually protective against Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). However, when a bunch of investigators state unequivocally that elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. So I read the damned thing. Always a potentially dangerous waste of precious brainpower.

… Dying is not really something you can fake, and once a cause of death has been recorded it cannot be changed at a later date. So how can someone seem to die of something – yet not die of it?

The answer is that you take the bare statistics, then you stretch them and bend them until you get the answer you want. Firstly, you adjust your figures for established risk factors for coronary heart disease – which may be justified (or may not be). Then you adjust for markers of poor health – which most certainly is not justified – as you have no idea if you are looking at cause, effect, or association.

Then, when this doesn’t provide the answer you want, you exclude a whole bunch of deaths, for reasons that are complete nonsense.

That’s just a taste.  I’d urge you to read the post, then go read his many other posts.  Then you’ll know (as if you didn’t already) why I like to say Scientists Are Freakin’ Liars. (Not all of them, of course.)

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22 Responses to “Dr. Kendrick On Bad Science”
  1. Bret says:

    Perfect time for me to learn of Dr. K’s blog. After being nauseated by the horrible science all over the news recently–culminating in the ‘Rise in violence linked with climate change’ article, sitting on the Google News front page for its third consecutive day now–I am hungry for witty rebuttals by smart people.

    He provides plenty of those.

  2. Jenny says:

    I wonder how many people like my father, who has higher cholesterol but cannot (thankfully) take the drugs due to another condition, will experience a decline in health due to being relentlessly hounded about their “greater risk” of heart disease and death.

  3. Cyborcat says:

    “The Great Cholesterol Con”–haven’t read the book, but just wanted to say that I love that title, so appropriate.

  4. Marilyn says:

    I think it was in Ravnskov’s “Cholesterol Myths” that I read that death certificates are used for all these studies, and that a death certificate might or might not reflect the true cause of death. Especially in the elderly, many systems begin to give out, and eventually those failures gang up on a person and get the upper hand. To attribute such a death to anything but old age is to give only part of the picture.

  5. The scientific evidence for astrology remains weak, but it’s still more convincing than the evidence for the lipid hypothesis.

    As my dad once put it, “I’m a Virgo, and therefore I’m too logical to believe in Astrology.”

  6. Lynda says:

    So many people are blindly taking statins – thinking they must. I know of three people in the last couple of weeks who have been prescribed them. Perhaps they are in the group that will be helped due to the anti-inflammatory effect of statins but I still shake my head (it hurts less than banging it on the desk).

    Off topic, my sister who is a 67 year old diabetic, has just been “prescribed” (by a hospital dietitian) a wheat based cereal breakfast to help fix her IBS problems. She is a big bread and sweet eater. There are none so blind as those who cannot see.

    One-quarter of Americans over the age of 45 are on statins. For men over age 65 (a group highly unlikely to benefit from them), it’s 50 percent.

    • js290 says:

      As Dr. Rosedale pointed out in his interview with Jimmy Moore in 2011, statins were developed to inhibit the enzyme that produces cholesterol. Any anti-inflammatory effects are either an improbable coincidence or purely propaganda.

    • Marilyn says:

      A wheat based cereal breakfast to help fix IBS? That’s about 180 degrees wrong.

    • Linda R says:

      “One-quarter of Americans over the age of 45 are on statins. For men over age 65 (a group highly unlikely to benefit from them), it’s 50 percent.”

      Seriously? Is it now that bad?

      I threw mine in the trash 3 months after the “white lab coated god” at the hospital told me I was going to drop dead if I didn’t listen to him. That was 18 months ago and thanks to you and many others on the web, I have never felt better.

      I’m glad you’re off of them.

      • Cameron Baum says:

        I was prescibed them in 2010, after showing high levels of cholesterol. The way he had put it, it was probably genetic, and it was to prevent problems with my heart in the future. I was walking around the supermarket afterwards thinking I was going to die.

        Two weeks of having them, and I was feeling weird effects. So, I did a little digging. First, I looked into cholesterol, then statins. By the end of the evening, I wasn’t afraid of cholesterol. I was panicking to death about statins. I stopped taking them, and have not gone back to that doctor simce.

        This blog has done more to identify and solve the actual problems that the doctors have done. I no longer trust tje medical establishment in general. Gary Taubes has a far more sound medical knowledge than the averahe doctor, and he is a PhD technical writer…

        • Paula says:

          My mother has been on Lipitor for at least ten years. Once I realized the danger they posed, I convinced her to get off them. She was off them for about two months when she went in for a regular appointment at the doctor. When she told him that she had gone off them, he demanded to know why. She told him I had convinced her. He bellowed at her, “Is she a doctor or a nurse??” Then he gathered up her chart, acting as if he were going to shove it at her and told her that if she could get better healthcare elsewhere she was free to take her chart and leave.

          The result? She’s back on the statins. I can no longer convince her otherwise…she chooses to believe blindly in her doctor. And let me add that she has serious muscle degeneration, memory loss and depression.

          My husband and I go to the same medical office, but see the brother as our physician. Neither of us care to ever go back. What that doctor did was more than unprofessional. And the brother tried to put my husband on statins also. Luckily, we are both extremely healthy, but we are feeling forced to find a new doctor.

          My dad’s cardiologist pitched a fit when my dad stopped taking Lipitor as well. I told my mom I’d be happy to drive to Illinois and shove some research up the doctor’s keister.

          • Cameron Baum says:

            Try a Trojan Horse aproach: turn round and say that you have watched a video on YouTube. It is the beginning part of a documentary, and it has convinced you that statins really do lower cholesterol. You found it really useful in understanding heart disease, and how people get strokes. Convince her that it is something she should see, then sit down with her, and watch that video together.

            I am suggesting you watch the first thirteen minites of “Statin Naton.” Then, if she starts saying that you tricked her, point out that you said that statins lower cholesterol, and thy do. You never said that it was a bad idea to take them.

            Also, there are a number of newspapers around the world which have run articles on statins crippling healthy people. Try showing her them. They hav also admitted that it causes damage in the 80mg level.

            I also love how you mum’s doctor is a professional bully. Nice to see multitasking… Of course, if it had been me he had pulled that stunt on, he would have been walking funny for a while. Because.I would have rammed my medical file up his backside. But that is the French side of me responding…

  7. js290 says:

    Some like to pit religion against science. The biggest threat to science is bad so-called “scientists.” They’re just another manifestation of religious zealots.

  8. Marilyn says:

    I was just reading some interesting parallels with another drug:

    http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2013/01/16/its-not-our-drugs/

    I particularly like “entrepreneurial orgy”:

    “It’s not Prozac that’s a problem. It’s just a chemical. It was the entrepreneurial orgy that accompanied it.”

    • Firebird says:

      As the holistic doctors will tell you, people do not have a deficiency of statins or prozac in their diet.

  9. LaurieLM says:

    I cannot overestimate the impact of Kendrick’s book “The Great Cholesterol Con”
    I read it a ways back, but went to look up this information to quote here, because it has stuck, in a BIG way, with me…..
    “So, rather than stating that 50,000 lives would be saved every year by taking statins, it would be considerably more accurate to state that if ten million people (at very high risk of heart disease) took a statin for a year they would all live -on average- two days longer………Also remember that this benefit would only be seen in men with pre-existing heart disease. Women and men without pre-existing heart disease would live not a day longer.”

    This is on page 193, searched on Amazon and there is more stunning detail in the quick few surrounding paragraphs explaining and elaborating on this than I’ve quoted here. But when I read the book, the ‘two days longer’ phrase and concept shocked me to the core by the way he put it in context.

    I have issues with lies in advertisements.
    I have a few additional issues with duped scientists and docs being lied to, and then perpetuating lies in ads.
    I have zero patience or respect for scientists who know they’re lying- for profit.

    It’s a brilliant book, and funny to boot. How often do you laugh out loud while learning about this stuff?

  10. pam says:

    thanks! i read Dr. K’s post.
    my jaw dropped (easier than banging head)

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