View Full Version : Science Proves Anything It Desires?

Mel Siff
04-26-2002, 01:13 AM
This recent discussion from our Supertraining list may also be of interest

It was written:

Someone commented:

*** Unfortunately for some, that coach happens to be a bit closer to the
truth than is comfortable in several instances. While this lofty ideal
associated with application of "the scientific method" is what we as
scientists always strive to achieve, it is quite common to for many
researchers set up experiments far more often to confirm their pet theories
than to depose them or validate alternative theories.

For instance, how often have you come across a scientist who supports the
cholesterol theory of cardiac disease setting up an experiment to disprove
this theory or confirm the C-Reactive protein theory or other radically
different theories? How often do cardiovascular scientists set up
experiments to prove that daily cardiovascular endurance exercise indeed may
be a contributing factor in cardiac disease and cancer? How often do
scientists who promote the use of Olympic lifting style training set up
experiments to prove that this type of exercise is not as effective or as
harmless as is often implied? How often do pharmacologists set up
experiments to prove that best-selling drugs such as Prozac, Zocor, the
Statins and Paxil - or even vaccines - may be more dangerous than helpful?
Can they ever set up such experiments in face of the realities of losing
face, funding or promotions?

Similarly, therapists who support a specific approach are far more likely to
publish their success stories than their failures, which often take costly
legal actions to disclose them. That is a major reason why every therapist
still manages to retain a flourishing number of clients and why scientists
continue to receive grants and promotions.

The ideal that "every negative finding is a positive contribution to science
and medicine" is often forgotten, because any scientists or practitioners are
rarely likely to prosper if they disclose even a few failures in a lifetime.

Some philosophers of science have skeptically remarked that a great deal of
scientific research is a self-fulfilling prophecy and that scientists all too
often prove what they wish to be true. Of course, this is not true of all
scientific research, but the incidence of this sort of science is extensive
enough as to taint our profession with more than enough disquiet.

Do many scientists fail to set up counter-experiments simply because they
believe at face value the results shown by other scientists, many of whom are
paid to produce given results? More than 15 years ago, the "New Scientist"
featured an article which suggested that scientists are far more likely to
accept what in the legal profession would be referred to as "hearsay
evidence". When I read that article, I had to agree that many scientists and
those who try to apply their findings in the practical world (especially in
the fitness and health professions) very often never check single research
articles thoroughly before accepting and using them. The food supplement
industry is an excellent example of this.

Science per se is not automatically the Saint of Objectivity, Accuracy and
Analytical Perfection - it, too, is subject to the whims, subjectivities,
biases, financial needs and emotions of those who practise this worthy

Dr Mel C Siff
Denver, USA

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