Don’t Believe Everything you Read: How To apply Science to Your Daily Life
Don’t let the name of this blog fool you, evidence-based research ABSOLUTELY has its place. Think of all the significant medical advancements we’ve made that have started with pure science: anesthesia, vaccines, and antibiotics to name a few. However, we feel the need to raise awareness about the issues surrounding health and medical applications of research.
That’s why we’re bringing you something new: welcome to MoveU’s Research Smeesearch.
The goal of this ongoing series is to draw attention to the issues we are constantly confronted with from our audience, peers, and critics. Each segment will dive deep into another problem plaguing the current allusion of health. If you missed the first installment go give it a look-see here!
How to apply science to our daily Lives.
Choosing not to do something because a study said its bad for you would be like never going out in the sun again for risk of skin cancer, it’s not very rational. Science and its bedrock of research are about quality AND quantity. One study is not necessarily as good as ten studies, but one well-designed study could prove better than ten poorly designed studies. Hence quality AND quantity when dealing with research.
“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
How come we know more than ever before, yet we suffer from more chronic illness and pain than at any other point in time. Although the answer is far from simple, we know there is a current breakdown between what we know and its application to the general population. Health professionals, although exceptionally well educated, are not required to stay up to date on current research. Expect an entire post on this subject in the future.
Additionally, mentioned in greater detail in the first installment of Research Smeesearch, we highlight the current dysfunctional relationship between new research and the media headlines sensationalizing them to drive traffic and profit to their sites. Read More About This Problem Here.
Are you telling me I need to read research studies?
Short Answer: No.
Unless you have a bizarre hobby or your job depends on it, you don’t have the spare time to cite the reasoning behind everything you eat, every workout or every purchase you make. If you do, more power to you; but there are way better hobbies.
Since most of us don’t have the time to stay up to date on the recent findings of what to put in or on our bodies, the activities we do, or the purchases we make. How can we effectively utilize research and decide whether or not we want to make a change in our lifestyle, a food we consume, a product we purchase. The goal of this post is to help you create a checklist utilizing three key steps that will lead you to either taking action or not.
Who Remembers the Scientific Method?
Applying the scientific method to your daily decisions is not very practical. However, we can learn how to have a more critical eye for clickbaity headlines and self-proclaimed experts selling us snake oil. For example, Dr. Oz is a heart surgeon, yet continually hawks untested nutritional supplements making unfactual claims and even appeared in front of the supreme court because of it.
You can think of the next four steps as a checklist of sorts for you or your family. No different than a grocery list, you can’t head to the checkout line until you have everything on your list.
Wait, the scientific method has seven steps!?
Listen smarty pants; this is meant to help normal people, the average person’ ain’t got time to read this post, let alone seven steps’ For our purposes, we will simplify them to four.
As our example, we will be using the activity of ‘Getting in 10,000 steps per day’, for our purposes let’s pretend we don’t already know that walking more is good for us. Believe it or not taking 10,000 steps a day was actually a marketing campaign to sell a Japanese Pedometer originating in 1968!
The Scientific Method (Abridged Version)
Let’s say you mention to a friend you are trying to get healthier. They proceed to tell you about a new thing they are trying and are seeing results. You head home and do some googling about what your friend had mentioned and find a host of topics regarding walking 5 miles a day (10,000 steps). Congrats you just completed step one: Discovery!
After some more searching and reading, maybe a few forums or discussion boards mentioned the same book from a reputable expert regarding 10,000 steps and decide to read it. Well, you just completed step two: Reviewing Literature.
Now let’s say you took a look at the research or resources that the author cites in their book. Yep, that would be step three: Confirming Data.
The final step is where you need to make a choice, have the testimonials from your friend and what you found online, the experts and the available research been enough for you to try walking 5 miles a day yourself?
This step is called Accept or Reject.
That wasn’t that complicated, was it?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people have no tools to be critical towards things they come across on the internet. Just look at the confusion around specific diets out there, we could have easily used them as examples, but we’re MoveU, not FeedU. Now let’s use the same example for how this would usually go without a blueprint.
The friend tells you about something they are trying to lose weight and get healthier. You go home and google what your friend said, you click around through a site or two when you find one of the top results is someone selling a product with instructions on how to track and complete 10,000 steps per day. They may have zero qualifications or background education in the subject matter but because of their ability to hire a marketing agency and build a fancy website, you feel they are an authority.
Usually, we never get past this first step of vetting information. Herein lies the problem; you barely made it past step one! YOU ONLY GOT THE FIRST THING ON YOUR GROCERY LIST AND NOW YOU’RE HEADING TO CHECKOUT!? Who does that?
Content Courtesy Alexandria Pavelic
Applying Science Efficiently to Yourself and Loved Ones.
Discovery -Hear about something new or new to you that you may be interested in.
Perhaps you find a YouTube Channel, a blog or a forum with more information and lots of people commenting about their experiences and results.
Reviewing Literature -Learn more information and go more in-depth on the subject.
Looking for more substantial sources of information. Heavily Researched Books, Ted Talks, Professionals in the associated field speaking or writing about their experiences.
Confirming Data -Verify through an expert or available research
Have there been quality studies performed on humans to test the claims?
Gold Standard is Double and Triple blind placebo-controlled studies that have had their results replicated.
Take Action -Accept or Reject.
Given the available information and having gone through the checklist of people’s experiences, expert’s opinions, and reviewing any available research is this something you wish to apply to your life.
This is your checklist. You can’t just use one of the steps in isolation like so many people do. For example: walking 5 miles a day worked for a handful of people, then someone decides to write a book utilizing only the stories of the people. This is only one part of the process, passing off anecdotal data (It Worked for Him & Her) as evidence is a big problem today in health and wellness. It creates so much misinformation and confusion that specific topics and practices that have gone through rigorous testing get lost in the noise.
If you genuinely feel the need to have research dictate decisions in your life, then this is about the most efficient way to gain a better understanding of the subject.
We don’t need to be scientists or researchers to benefit from science; we have to better question askers. This is the essence of science: Question Everything. Another tip to be even more critical way is by simply adding ‘Debunked’ to it on google. ‘Walking 5 miles a day is healthy debunked’ for example. This will usually yield opposing the arguments against the topic if they exist, and you would start the checklist over.
In short, You don’t need to go scour PubMed, the internet is an incredible resource to find the people who are doing that for you, just so long as you use a critical eye before entering your credit card until you’ve checked off all four steps on whether they are a viable, non-biased resource.
At MoveU Our Focus Is On Empowering Individuals
We hope this post helps you navigate sources of information better so that you can make the most informed purchases and decisions possible. For years we gave away so much information on social media that at one point, we decided we should organize and simplify to the point that anyone can do it from anywhere. This process, like anything, had substantial costs. In a perfect world, we would be able to give this program away to everyone, if you follow us on social media, you know we continuously host giveaways to those who need it most. When it comes down to it, our members will be the first to tell you that MoveU is a bargain as they are avoiding prescriptions, procedures, and surgeries, saving them both money and time having to navigate schedules, appointments, and waiting rooms.
MoveU addresses the problem in healthcare of only treating symptoms and not the patient. MoveU is mind, body and emotional support through a program that teaches you how to move, how to think about pain while supporting you on your journey back to a healthier you with our incredible community of Coaches and MUvers.
Written By David Schroer