Saturday, December 09, 2006

True Believers

Science at its best is all about curious wonder, investigation and discovery. Those who follow a career path to research are often inquisitive, interesting people who have a strong desire to get to the bottom of things, to search for answers and to challenge long-held beliefs. I've had great opportunities to meet many researchers over the last five years and am always struck by their desire to take their knowledge and understanding one more step, repeatedly questioning if what they believe is true or not.

Often when a researcher holds a dissenting view on an issue - interprets data differently than others or reaches contrary conclusions - they find themselves ridiculed, ostracized and sometimes even censured! But, they often remain steadfast because they are sure something isn't right with the popular interpretation or use of the data.

Through the years we've seen a number of researchers eventually vindicated - last year two Austalian scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine after decades of ridicule over their discovery "that ulcers weren’t caused by stress, but rather by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori." That discovery turned medical dogma on its head but not without years of fighting the entrenched belief that ulcers were caused by stress.

Yesterday, as I was reviewing the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, I wasn't surprised to read Dr. Martijn Katan's reply to Dr. Uffe Ravnskov's Letter to the Editor about Katan's editorial in May about the findings of a study by Krauss et al.

Now, while I could write all about it here, I think it's best to let you read all about it over at Dr. Mike Eades blog - he notes the same type of issues with the reply that struck me when I read it.

Enjoy!

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:57 PM

    It took me a long time to realize that the ideals of science are realized only by the collective enterprise, not by any individual. Every individual scientist I've ever met (including self), is flawed in some serious way when it comes doing science. But the system, with peer review, public scrutiny of results, the need for reproducibility, a healthy dose of skepticism, etc., works much better than any individual scientist. The "scientific method" applied over and over again, by a variety of personalities, to a particular problem will eventually come up with the truth of the matter, although no individual scientist or single experiment will do so.

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  2. To anonymous: Amen!

    To Regina: I went and read Dr. Eades blog that made me read the other links, that ended up sucking up more time at Google Scholar. Wow! I applaud those who don't conform and are willing to stand up and back the evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To anonymous: Amen!

    To Regina: I went and read Dr. Eades blog that made me read the other links, that ended up sucking up more time at Google Scholar. Wow! I applaud those who don't conform and are willing to stand up and back the evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Great blog.

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    ReplyDelete