Over the past few decades, there has been an explosion of health trends and diets that claim to be both medically sound and effective in improving your overall wellness. Some are clearly more appealing than others, however.
As you read through some fad diet books or watch some related YouTube videos, you will probably come across claims about many different products and strategies that seem too good to be true.
These false promises often appeal to people’s desire for easy weight loss or disease prevention. It is very tempting to buy into them, but only if you consider the product site seriously.
Sadly, some sites make fraudulent claims with no basis in reality. More frequently though, you will find that some of these services and programs lack basic quality control or produce misleading results.
Research has shown that even well-intentioned attempts at finding new ways to prevent or treat diseases can do more harm than good. This is particularly true when it comes to purported “miracle” cures that promise to restore your health by altering your lifestyle or use of supplements and/or drugs.
It is important to note that none of this applies just to fad diets! A fad diet may actually work for some people, but not for most, so they cannot recommend it to anyone.
Examples of unscientific research
Recent popular trends that have drawn criticism are studies that claim a specific diet or exercise regime will improve your overall health, self-esteem, and/or appearance.
These diets are often marketed as “super foods” or “miracle supplements,” which is why they’re sometimes referred to as fad diets.
Some examples of such diets include eating only raw food, drinking green tea instead of water, and taking turmeric in place of plain old butter.
Many people make claims about these diets being able to help you lose weight, reduce symptoms of disease, and increase general wellness.
But what most don’t tell you is that none of this information has been scientifically proven to work.
It’s also important to note that although some diets may be helpful for certain individuals, it does not mean that they can be used on their own to achieve that same level of fitness and health.
Sadly, many people who believe in these diets never look into the truth about them, limiting their chances at optimal health.
So how do we know whether or not these so called super foods actually work?
Well, we simply cannot!
While there are some anecdotal reports and small clinical trials here and there, we truly do not know if any of these diets are effective until they’ve been properly tested through large randomized controlled trials.
Types of unscientific research
There are many types of studies that do not meet the criteria for scientific experiments. These types of studies fail to account for potential confounding variables, they oversimplify the situation being studied, or they simply cannot be conducted because it is impossible to perform the study.
Many non-experimental studies go beyond mere observation and ask questions with no controls. For example, a questionnaire can be completed where respondents answer according to their beliefs and perceptions. A survey will often ask people to state whether something is good or bad without first defining what constitutes a “good” or a “bad” outcome.
Questionnaire surveys also pose problems when respondents give different answers depending on who asks them and how they feel about the person asking the question. This would not happen in an experiment where participants were assigned at random to either a treatment or control group.
Another type of non-experiment comes from studying situations or events that have only happened once. Because there has never been a like experience done before, researchers must make assumptions based on other information or experiences with similar situations.
Sample unscientific studies
There are many things that seem to work for some people, but clearly not for others. That is why it is so difficult to determine what works in skincare and beauty products – there is no one set of rules or guidelines as to which ones do enough good to be considered effective.
A lot of times, companies will take advantage of this by marketing false products that do nothing except make your skin feel worse. It is important to research any new product you add into your routine, and read reviews before buying!
There are several types of studies conducted in order to prove the effectiveness of various cosmetic products. The two most common types are randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews.
An RCT compares a group of individuals who are using the product with a control group who does not use the product regularly yet comes from the same demographic as those who do. This way, both groups have an equal chance of experiencing benefits from the product.
A review looks at all available evidence on a product, determining whether or not it has proof backing its claims. By studying earlier studies, reports, and talkings about the product with other experts, a general picture can be formed.
However, just because someone else said they used a product effectively doesn’t mean that it worked for them- individual body shapes and sizes can play a big part in how well it works for you.
Who is responsible for bad science?
As we have seen, scientific research comes with its own set of rules or norms that ensure quality control. These include things like requiring independent review of studies and supporting evidence, as well as requiring that studies are conducted under rigorous ethical standards.
When these standards aren’t met, then the researchers involved bear some responsibility for their work. They may be ostracized by their peers or even punished through lawsuits if there is sufficient proof of misconduct.
But what about when they know full-well that their study isn’t sound, but they do it anyway?
That takes an incredible amount of selfishness and laziness on their part, to say the least. If you want people to trust your findings, then don’t simply throw your research out there unless you are sure it is solid!
Instead, do the hard work of proving your hypothesis wrong. Do not rely only on anecdotal stories and testimonials alone – use verifiable facts and statistics where possible. Make comparisons with other studies, not just yours.
By doing this, you will at least create doubt in someone else’s theory, which is a good thing.
How can I become a scientist?
Being a scientist is not just about having a degree, it’s about applying scientific principles to things outside of academia. Technically anyone with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in science can be considered a “scientist,” but becoming an actual researcher depends upon having enough motivation to pursue academic research.
With social media offering easy opportunities to spread false information, how well does your average person know what facts are true and accurate? Most people don’t — which means they may unknowingly believe in unscientific theories that have no basis in reality.
This could potentially influence their future health decisions, investment choices, and political beliefs. It also raises questions about why more adults aren’t trained in scientific theory and concepts.
What are the different levels of science?
There is no such thing as absolute, never changing scientific truth. Science changes depending on what questions we ask and how well those questions are asked. It also depends on who is asking the question and why they are asking it!
Science has three basic components: observation, reasoning, and experimentation. All three must occur for us to call something scientific.
Observation is recording or noticing things that happen in nature, activity conducted by scientists. For example, when you look out at the night sky you can see all sorts of patterns and shapes. These patterns are called constellations.
Scientists use these constellations to tell time because they know that during certain seasons of the year, some of these stars will appear closer together due to light reflecting off of them more frequently. This information can be used to determine where spring comes around every year.
Reasoning is drawing conclusions from observations and experiences. When thinking about science, sometimes people get very focused on one part of the process. They may focus too much importance on just observing or experimenting without linking their findings into a theory.
A theory is an assumption or explanation based on observable facts and relationships. A good theory uses logical reasons and makes sense.
Experimentation is testing a hypothesis to see if its results match what was expected. Scientists use this test-and-re-test method to prove or disprove their theories.
How can I tell if a study is reliable?
Scientific studies are not done in a vacuum. They are conducted under rigorous scientific conditions that ensure that results are accurate, credible, and reproducible.
To evaluate the reliability of an individual research article, you should first look to see whether there have been previous reports about the topic or question. If so, then these past studies add credibility to the current one.
You also want to make sure that the researchers were working from sound principles with their experiments. For example, testing pure sugar pills (no placebo) is not considered valid research because people naturally crave sweets!
Furthermore, it is important to consider how well the researchers track their data. Simply writing down notes during the experiment without systematic note-taking methods is not very trustworthy.
When doing your own research, make sure to use reputable sources. People who write about health and wellness for a living will be much more knowledgeable than someone who has just read a few books on the subject.
What are the different types of scientific studies?
There are two main categories of scientific studies- systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
A systematic review is an umbrella term that refers to a collection of all related research studies on a topic. By gathering all relevant information, we can get a more complete picture of how well or poorly one intervention works compared to another.
By comparing the results of these studies, we can determine if there are some interventions that work better than others. Systematic reviews also look at whether there are benefits and risks associated with each intervention so that you can make an informed choice about which approach is right for you.
Sadly, though, due to limited funding, most systematic reviews are done as either “high quality” or “low quality.” High quality reviews are those that have been rigorously conducted using appropriate methodology and statistical analysis. Low quality reviews do not meet this standard.
Conversely, an RCT is an excellent way to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention because researchers randomly assign participants to receive the intervention under study versus a placebo or no‐treatment control group.
The patients in the treatment groups then undergo the same tests and evaluations as the ones in the control group, and their outcomes are measured against theirs. If the outcome is the same for both groups, then we can infer that there was no effect of the intervention being studied.