Be suspicious of research presented at scientific meetings

I’m not a scientist. I’m merely a dull-witted heart attack survivor who started asking questions about the fistful of cardiac drugs I now have to take each day.  But I did spend 20 years of my life living with a scientist, which meant countless scintillating breakfast table conversations on topics like zinc and copper sediment in the Fraser River estuary. (Does that count at all?)

One thing I did learn from such scintillation is that there’s research – and then there’s research.

Or, as New York Times journalist Andrew C. Revkin, author of Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, reminds us:

“For every PhD, there is an equal and opposite PhD!”

This may help to explain why we can read in breathlessly urgent news headlines that coffee causes cancer, yet the very next week we’ll read that coffee, paradoxically, prevents cancer.    . Continue reading