TheScrutinizer.net is an advocacy group for science based medicine, founded by Michael Stieger to combat the massive amount of misinformation in the health industry by providing an incorruptible, reliable and unbiased resource for information about nutrition, sports medicine and diseases. By educating the population about nutrition, sports medicine and diseases according to science-based medicine, we hope to drastically improve the quality of life for people while providing the critical thinking skills to detect and avoid snake oil.
Furthermore, we’re currently working on a thorough manual to nutrition and physical training, based on scientific consensus, which will support everyone trying to make a switch to a healthy lifestyle, free of charge. We’re not affiliated with any supplement (or any other type of) company and our recommendations are based entirely on research and literature.
How to know what’s true?
You might ask yourself what “misinformation” even means in that context. How do we know what’s most likely true? Can you trust that random website or blog? What about peer-reviewed research journals, which are glorified for the highest accuracy?
Unlike popular belief, a solid conclusion in medicine cannot be reached by looking at only a subset of all available evidence, and due to scientific, logical and/or statistical misconduct/error, even the examination and interpretation of all evidence requires extensive scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills.
Since we’re not all experts in medical academia, relying on the view of certain authorities is a necessity, which turns out to create many underlying issues which not only heavily affect the public health, but also create massive industries relying on the lack of expert knowledge of consumers. In this mission statement, we’ll elaborate on what we believe are the major problems and how we try to tackle them.
Academic medicine is supposed to be the source of reliable information for health, but due to flaws in the widespread approach of “evidence-based medicine”, highly questionable recommendations for nutrition, supplementation and treatments have emerged. Evidence-based medicine became a named and widely recognized concept in 1990, as it was increasingly apparent that many of our medical treatments were based only on anecdotal evidence, individual experiences and the plausibility from the basic sciences. Practicing by experience or opinion has been recognized as unreliable, as it’s prone to human biases, therefore highest emphasis was put into more reliable sources of evidence.
While this was a much needed paradigm shift to weed out less efficient types of evidence, it puts too much emphasis on clinical evidence alone, while almost entirely ignoring basic sciences for prior probability and logic. Furthermore, EBM does not sufficiently account for fraud, researcher bias, publication bias (file drawer effect) and the big picture of the entire literature. This opened the doors to complete quackery, creating an entire industry around nonsensical health products and recommendations, as demonstrated by “Complementary Alternative Medicine”, short SCAM .
Science Based Medicine
First publicly proposed by Dr. Steven Novella, Dr. David Gorski along with several other physician co-authors in 2008, science-based medicine emphasizes science in general instead of evidence in particular.
- Acknowledges “consilience” of science
- Affirms high quality science as basis for standard of care in medicine
- Considers scientific/medical plausibility of an intervention when weighing evidence
- Considers proper use of types of evidence
- Considers overall pattern in the literature
- Requires careful consideration of definitions and variables
The majority of non-academics searching for health related information don’t use peer-reviewed journals, but popular media channels such as TV, google, you tube or other websites without quality control. Experts are rarely representative on those channels, while snake oil salesmen make a killing with cherry-picking evidence, exaggerated claims and false promises.
Big claims and promises naturally attract a bigger audience. Emotional appeal often works better than any evidence to convince someone who does not know how to evaluate it, especially when it comes to our health, considering the enormous impact on life and well-being. In essence, society’s lack of knowledge in medicine combined with our strong susceptibility to emotional appeal makes it more efficient to be dishonest in marketing health related products because profit-maximization is the goal, not people’s health.