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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