If only everything was black and white, wouldn't life be
For example, just this evening, I read two articles about exercise helping to reduce anxiety and depression. One was very positive about how anxiety could be reduced by exercise. The other was a statistical exercise presented to a professional conference that said there was a statistical correlation of minor improvement in anxiety and depression due to regular exercise.
When you dealing with scientists, particularly when they do reviews of previous studies, it is essential that you appreciate that they use statistical analysis which confuses most of the rest of the population.
I'm not going to get drawn into that discussion because even though I have studied statistics whilst on a maths course, several years ago I really have no ability to understand in detail this kind statistics.
Then at the opposite end of the scale we get raving reviews from people who don't particularly understand the scientific process. A process where one sets up a hypothesis and then sets out to prove it by study or investigation. The scientific process never produces a complete answer, it is always just a step along the way.
To return to the two articles on exercise and a reduction in a anxiety and depression I have to go back to what I picked up from reading papers in the shortened versions rather than the full one because I don't have the technical ability to decipher some of the language used.
Sometimes one has to accept the evidence of your own information. In my experience people who exercise tend to be fitter, healthier and happier than those who don't. Now in scientific terms that is not a valid piece of information because it is not researched and tested against other data. And it is filtered through my own perspective. To most people their own observations are valid and verified in their own terms, to a scientist this is not the case.
How then do general members of the public appreciate the scientific process? Often it is through the popular newspaper or television channel. For instance the Daily Express in Britain often has claims about new drugs and treatments making them seem as though they're about to happen in the next year or so. When reading deeper into the article you would soon realises that this is not the case. What is being talked about is a report of a scientific paper that shows how a particular experiment has succeeded to help a particular type of condition in laboratory conditions or controlled trials. Often the predictions made that the effectiveness of the treatments are the newspaper's extrapolations of the scientists evidence. There are often not really true but exaggerations, of the findings.
How is it possible for ordinary people such as myself to understand and believe such reports? On one side we have the scientists report which is difficult to understand an on the other we have a newspaper report that is apparently biased in favour of the positive side of the report without detailing the true nature of a scientist view.
To return to exercise at this level, my personal experience, exercise makes me feel good in both mind and body. In contrast with when I had periods of reduced to nonexistence exercise my energy levels were lower and my own sense of well-being has not been at its best. But if I recounted that to a scientist she would want to know my quantifiable evidence, in other words “what can be measured.” And of course because I'm talking from a personal point of view that evidence is not available.
So my belief from my own evidence is not scientific, just as the newspapers distort scientific evidence and then add their own headlines that distort the scientific facts, my evidence could be argued to be equally invalid.
I think the only way to validate what I say is for you the reader to make your own observations and reach your own conclusions. After all no one is ever right all the time.
Report from webmedpage
Report from Daily RX