“The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data”: Part 4 of 4
Third, is the study reliable? This is the second basic research standard, and it means is the research repeatable with consistent results? Reliability is one of the best things about Colin Campbell’s The China Study, the largest nutrition study in history, which will be referenced throughout this book. Dr. Campbell’s animal research showing the benefits of a low-animal-protein diet were duplicated by other researchers, using various animals, all over the world. The results were very consistent.
Finally, have a basic understanding of and consider carefully a few other things before placing much stock in what you read. Is the study longitudinal (covering a long period of time)? If none of 500 subjects got cancer in three years, that’s much less compelling than if none of them got cancer in 30 years, like in the Framingham study, the Harvard Nurses’ study, or the Oxford-Cornell (China Study) Project.
Was the study double-blinded, which means that neither the researcher nor the subject knew which of multiple therapies the person was receiving? Was it placebo-controlled, meaning that some subjects received a placebo (sugar tablet) instead of the supplement or drug? Was the research published in peer-reviewed journals (often but not always ensuring more scientific analysis)? How big was the sample size? Bigger is better, and although case studies (with only a few subjects) are interesting, without further research, you shouldn’t bet the farm on findings of those kinds.
The more you read and study, the more confidence you can have that the very important decisions you make about how to fuel your body are sound. 12 Steps to Whole Foods undertakes to synthesize the research and best practices from around the world, leading to dietary practice that is simple and achievable and customizable for your personal dietary needs–a direct route to optimal health.
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