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Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

I love research. I went to post-secondary school for 9 years (3 years studying aging) and my research has been published in some really cool journals. But I’ve noticed something over the years working alongside people in the health field…studying something and rolling out that information in a practical sense isn’t as smooth as maybe we wish it was.


I remember in one of my research methods class, my professor asked us what the most important part of a research paper was. At this stage of learning the conclusion portion of the paper was always our best friend, it gets straight to the point and I don’t have to read anything else. However, he told us it was the most boring part of the paper; methods and results. It makes sense. The research can only really be applied to the specific subjects they conducted the study on. The subject population is extremely important, what might be observed on a 50 year old female, may not be observed in a 30 year old male.


Here’s an analogy I like to use. What if I were to ask you a recycling question. “If I took a recyclable can to the bottle depot, would I get money in return?”


You would reply: “Absolutely!” In fact you might even tell me the amount (5 cents).


Okay, so you’re telling me that if I take a can to the depot, I’ll receive money in return?


“Yes Jason, with absolute certainty”


Perfect. I will now quit my job and start collecting cans.


You would probably advise me not to do that. Here is a great example of how we can take information and attempt to apply it in a practical sense. Just because I’m 100% confident in receiving money with my deposit doesn’t mean I will be able to survive on that income. So quitting my job isn’t practical.


We can sometimes do this with research. We can take some information, read it, and then apply it to our lives and can sorely miss the point. So I don’t read everything at face value. Now I’m also not saying that when you receive information that you should go to the source and read the methods and results. I may also even try to apply some of that new information and do my own study on myself.


Marketing companies are usually the first who want to jump to conclusions and make money off research. So they market green tea extract, raspberry ketones, wheat abstinence, dark chocolate, organic ice…you get my point. So next time you hear about a new fad, stop for one moment, and ask yourself, who did they do this study on…wait a minute, I’m not a ferret.


Jason Hagen