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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

See through the daily, big, medical-statistical studies that state big nonsense

Anyone with a hunch that one plus one is less than three can understand the following. It’s easy.

Every day now, in the news are gigantic statistical-medical studies that falsely claim to prove some new idea or theory. Shockingly, some of the studies are even peer-review and some are even published in the world’s most respected journals. What’s the layperson to do? Just read the below and you’ll be able to judge for yourself and not let them fool you.

The two prime ways that statistical studies can draw wrong conclusions are that the finding is just coincidental or that the setup was faulty.

Statisticians try to minimalize the chance that a finding is coincidental by enlarging the study. Now accessible, from the UK to the US to China and where not, are medical data about millions. The enormous medical fact piles the world over are their dream come true. But, we see an enormous uptick in studies abusing these large data resulting in total nonsense.

That is because the second source of statistical blundering is often not scrutinized. Luckily, anyone with common sense can do this. In fact, you are better at judging the validity of such studies the more common sense you have and the least you are detached from being down-to-earth.

Just watch how easy this is, outside an ivory tower.

The basics of a statistical study go like this. You take one group of subjects. You divide the people randomly into two groups. You let the two sets do different things. (It is called double-blind if it is hidden to them who does what (took pill or placebo) and also to the researchers until the results come in.) Then you compare the results of the different actions.

(If you’re very hopeful about the medicine curing a vastly deadly disease, it is unethical to divide the groups 50-50. Give 10% a placebo. My idea.)

The most common error is to look at two groups that act differently and then look at how they come out differently. This is a mistake because the two groups were different, to begin with. A couple of recent examples.

People who drink filtered coffee are healthier than those drinking instant. Think about it. Who drinks what? The wealthy drink it filtered. The poorer have no time, no patience, and no money to drink filtered. Of course, the people with more money get better health care (unfortunately). Nothing to do with how they (or if they) drink the burned-beans drab.

Be extra suspicious when addictive recreational drugs are promoted.

Intermittent fasting gives a better COVID-19 survival. Studied are people who did and didn’t fast for days on end. Now, think about it. Those less hurt by the virus are better able to fast. Nothing to do with helping to heal.

Prolonged sitting is almost as dangerous as smoking. (Never mind that it says also that if you move around between sitting sessions you undo the bad effects of oversitting.) They compared people who sat for workdays of 12 hours or longer (in the paradise of the State of China) with people who didn’t. Think for 10 seconds. Those forced to accept such workdays of course have the worst health status. No need to study the numbers.

Soil pollution may damage cardiovascular health. Yet, think for 3 seconds, and you know that people who live on soiled ground are poorer, work unhealthier, eat unhealthier, smoke more, drink more alcohol, etc.

One egg per day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Turns out that those eating an egg daily are healthier compared to people who can’t afford it. Dud. Against shows the health effect of wealth, not of food.

Be extra suspicious when addictive non-vegan non-foods are promoted.

So, the bottom question is, are the groups of people that are compared randomly separate from each other? If not, what proof is there that the two groups are compatible? Better: How are the two groups incompatible?

Now, when we use our brains, we can also easily spot other nonsense.

They gave attention boosting drugs to people with Alzheimer (symptoms) and found they boosted their alertness. What a surprise! You’d give them cigarettes, high-sugar foods, or caffeine, and you’ll find the same. But we know that every booster only works a few hours, and then we collapse. Of course, they did not measure that. No cure here.

Be extra suspicious when addictive lucrative medical drugs are promoted.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble.
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