How to deal with “alarming” studies without losing your mind
Almost every week, a new study challenges yesterday’s “truth”. How to go around alarming studies?
You may have heard about the Israeli study that looked at the effect of artificial sweeteners on body weight.
This study brings to light an entirely different important point that I find too seldom addressed. I mean the character of this kind of “studies”.
Many people are frustrated because science often contradicts itself: what is true and what is not.
- One-day meat is healthy. Next, it causes heart attacks.
- Grains are unhealthy one day and part of a wholesome diet the next.
- One day we can eat eggs, the next we can’t.
I can think of more, but I think the point gets clear.
You’re frustrated and angry and probably quite confused because in all the back and forth, it’s impossible to tell what’s true and what’s not.
But, you know what?
In research, this is NORMAL.
Science essentially means testing hypotheses.
All studies are about answers as well as NEW QUESTIONS.
The truth is – fat loss doesn’t happen in a laboratory vacuum. It takes place in REAL LIFE.
A study is just one chapter of a serial—sometimes the first chapter.
Research is important. But research also means frustration because the answers often only show us what we do NOT know.
And then, over time, many (many!) studies later, we finally know with more certainty – but not absolute certainty – what is true.
How to deal with “alarming” studies
So, how do you deal with that?
In all honesty, I would plain IGNORE 99% of media coverage of new studies.
I know that may sound absurd. But a study is a short scene in a film, just a sequence of notes in a symphony.
An “amazing new study” might be an excellent way to get some conversation going at the party. But getting into activism is just as bad for your lifestyle as it is for your physical and mental health.
The media want circulation, and new studies are helping them to do so.
The connections are often not fully understood or greatly simplified.
It’s a good idea if you listen to those who read these studies professionally.
Experts who seem credible to you.
I mean those who only press the alarm button when something really important happens.
You may be patient with new results. Some people startle immediately and overreact – this is probably the worst solution.
Let the cloud of dust fall. Then new questions will become visible, and there will also be new answers over time.
Concentrate on the secured basics.
By the way, there’s no reason to be mad at the research. Science is important.
Rather be angry at lousy reporting. By that, I mean reports that mislead you into believing unsecured ideas that have yet to prove themselves in practice.
Scientific methods: links and further information
Here are some independent sources that continuously monitor the state of research and derive concrete recommendations:
- Training Science (for Personal Trainers and Fitness Coaches): Strength and Conditioning Research by Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras
- Nutritional Supplements (for Personal Trainers and Fitness Coaches): Reference Guide from Examine.com
- Dietary Supplements (for practical use): Stack Guides from Examine.com.
In media reporting, the connection between correlation and causality is often confused – this is how nutritional errors, for example, arise.