The Statistical Trust and Why Folks Should Question Everything

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Math With Bad Drawings

I can manipulate data to say anything I want. So can you. So can CNN, Fox News, BBC, USA Today, CDC, NASA… etc.

And it’s not outright lying, either.

Since starting Keto, I’ve been doing a lot of medical research in my free time — about metabolic systems, cholesterol, good vs bad fat, diabetes, brain function, etc…

And all this research provides conclusions differing from long held medical and dietary beliefs. And I’ve always wondered, where does this come from? Who was the scientist/nutritionist/wizard who said dietary fat makes you fat?

I mean fat = fat. Makes sense? Yeah?

But the more research I do into the body’s metabolic pathways, and I realized how completely bad sugar is for you compared to dietary fat.

I read a really awesome article on how Keto, referred to as Very Low Carb High Fat (VLCHF) diet, actually causes you to have more good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as “changing” LDL into HDL cholesterol. And I know to the lay person, the word cholesterol invokes images of crusty arteries and heart attacks, but your body needs cholesterol to make hormones.

The article gets way more sciency than I have time to go into.

But “people” say that upping fat and lowering carbs is bad.

Who are these people? The government? Your mom? Your ancient primary care doctor who hasn’t done any nutritional research since 1980?

Science proves to the contrary.

But on the topic of bullshittery, when I was in undergrad and grad school, I’d always write my papers at the 11th hour. And make A’s on them.

Because I’m awesome like that.

But I could pull the most random data from anywhere to prove my point and cite it. It could have been a study on amoebas and I could turn it into something about recidivism in adult male populations.

Well, maybe not that far fetched… but you get my drift.

I would go onto a database like Jstor, and do a search, look through abstracts and find what data I needed to prove my point. Add some fancy quotes and voila.

And because I know I’m not the only one who does this, If I see a recent scientific study, until I personally read their sample sizes, methodology, etc… I don’t trust it.

And neither should you.

I mean, people don’t have a lot of time to invest in what is “truth” and “fake truth”. The lay person probably doesn’t know how sampling methods can affect outcomes or different methods of statistical analysis that can be used to skew data. The lay person doesn’t have the time or urge to actually go out there and research.

I mean, in the age of the internet and wikipedia, people do have information on demand. But, who posts this information? What’s their agenda?

In my first research methodology class, my professor asked, “Why do murder rates and ice cream sales rise at the same time?”

Or something like that.

Two seemingly completely different things, that both saw a rise during the same time period. Are they connected? Do they have a correlation? Is it statistically significant?

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Murder and ice cream have nothing to do with each other other than the rates of ice cream sales and murder rates both rise in the summer.

Magic, right?

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5 thoughts on “The Statistical Trust and Why Folks Should Question Everything

  1. I nearly gave up at the line about how awesome you are because lets face it nothing more needed to be said after that 🙂

    But I do love the way you explain things. I’ve always used the term ‘internet fact’ and that it something you find on the internet that sounds fanciful enough to be false but three people have agreed with it so therefore it’s fact. Years ago I remember reading a story about putting two stroke oil into diesel fuel to make engines run better, anything from lower engine noise to better economy to cheaper to run. This one person started a forum back in about 2005 where they claimed to be a scientist and that they’d studied it, in 4 years of posting not once did they post their evidence, hundreds of people posted real world facts proving against it and every time some asked a question the original poster disappeared for several weeks by which time the thread would be advanced by 5 pages and they could ignore the questions about proof and only answer the ones they agreed with. It was one of the best lessons in follow the leader I have ever seen. Hundreds of people deadset believed this person who never once provided factual evidence, not even a dodgy Google page, because early on two or three people said they ran two stroke oil in their diesel engines and drove one or two tank fulls of fuel through their cars.

    There is thousands of sites like it. Conspiracy theories are fun to listen to but Internet Fact makers are scary because too many people actually believe shit they read on the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Keto Diaries — Quarter of the Way There and a Lit Review | The 20-Something Existential Crisis

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