Misrepresentation

Can science lie? I mean… isn’t science objective, as in 100% objective?

Science may be, but we must remember that scientists aren’t.

Case in point…

Click here to link to the full article

Researchers did indeed show – in this study – that parachutes don’t work, or more correctly, work as well as backpacks (which were worn by the control group). The spoiler… the study subjects jumped from planes that were not flying, weren’t even moving, were actually parked on a nice piece of grass with the jump off point from the plane a mere couple of feet above the ground. Refer to the picture in the linked article to see exactly how researchers ‘proved’ parachutes don’t work.

The point… this is exactly how scientists can use research to cause readers who fail to dig into the details of the scientific study to come to false conclusions. Worse, sports writers who rarely are versed in scientific literature (you need a minimum of a university level course in statistics to understand the data points precisely and in order to draw conclusions), defer to the scientists study title in order to write articles which are then posted on triathlon, running and cycling websites. With few of the website readers digging into the depths of the research the dissemination of false information grows and grows until you have a meme develop like… take for example all the articles that showcase only the upside of HiiT and fail to ever mention any downside, any long term costs or consequences to hi intensity training.

Its not only the setup of the study that matters – e.g. jumping from a plane on the ground vs a plane flying hundreds of feet above the ground to test a hypothesis over parachutes – everything about science matters… from the number of participants, to who are the participants, how they were selected, how the study was performed, and whether the results of the study are in fact statistically significant.

Every study will yield results, the questions that need to be dealt with are the results meaningful, reproducible, valid and reliable? If not, then the study, irrespective of how awesome the conclusion may be… is irrelevant because it wasn’t science that was performed, it was a hack or hobbyist attempting to do science.

Google “research fraud” and you will find that the number of reported and unreported cases of scientists messing with their scientific studies in order to deliver “results” is growing. This has huge implications not only in sport, but everywhere, especially in areas such as health care.

In the meantime, be cautious about accepting scientific research study results just because someone says the data was published even in a noteworthy journal.

Scientists unlike science are not 100% objective. They are prone to the fleshy pursuits of profit, power and prestige and if the opportunity to mess with results offers the potential to eek out a nicer slice of the pie for themselves… well… some scientists won’t blink twice to take the opportunity even if it means disseminating incorrect information hence compromising on their name and their reputation.