What medical researchers mean when they say ____

Just because a scientific paper sounds authoritative, it doesn’t mean we should always take what’s published in journals as gospel. For example, here’s what scientists might really mean when they pontificate:

“It has long been known” . . . [I didn’t look up the original reference]

“A definite trend is evident” . . . [These data are practically meaningless]

“Of great theoretical and practical importance” . . . [Interesting to me]   Continue reading

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

Can quantum mechanics really explain the “law of attraction”?

"Dogs are so cute when they try to comprehend quantum mechanics!"

I’ll be the first to admit I am no scientist, although I did spend 20 years with one, amid scintillating breakfast conversations on topics like zinc and copper sediment in the Fraser River estuary. Does that count at all? Far brighter minds than mine, however, tell us what real scientists have often pondered: people believe an awful lot of “science” that isn’t scientific at all. Take the recent Reuters report from Russia that showed:

  • 32% of Russians surveyed believed the Earth is the centre of the solar system
  • 55% believed that all radioactivity is man-made
  • 29% believed that the first humans lived when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth  Continue reading