Over the past week, I feel like I’ve been bombarded by different studies and antidotes on different subjects that just don’t sit well with me. And neither have they sat with others I’ve spoken to, as well. Some who are professionals, and others who are just lay people that are affected by the answers they keep hearing.
A recent study in regards to teacher licensing exams in the state of Indiana that was covered by WTHR, titled Crisis in the classroom: No resolution for controversy surrounding Indiana teacher tests, triggered something in me. The study pointed out that the state’s exams were too weighty, and that even the most exceptional students were not able to pass the exams. The state administrators scoffed at the study, stating that there was nothing wrong with their exams. Even the company that proctors the exams stated there was nothing wrong with the exams. To me, it pointed to money. The reason they are saying there is nothing wrong with the exams, in my mind, is that there is a money trail from these exams directly to their pockets. I mean, why would our top students be able to pass any exam in any other state with ease, but continuously fail our own state’s exams?
But this isn’t limited to that one article. No, that was just a catalyst for my thoughts leading up to this blog. You see, I’ve worked in the world of information technology for over 18 years, and one thing I have learned is that you can always manipulate data to suite your needs. Even when it comes to a quality controlled test or environment. I’ve even have heard myself have to tell someone that if I can pass a test to suit their desires, but it won’t justify the outcomes they need.
There are many times that studies are completed with a focus on a specific primary purpose. Many times, any other factors are discounted and ignored in order to only see their desired outcomes. Many times these types of studies are just another way of saying “I told you so” in the face of the author’s critics. This would actually be called a self-serving bias and is any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem, or the tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner (definition by Wikipedia.org). But I would not just apply that toward individuals, but I would also apply it towards corporations and governments, as well. Anyone who has a monetary or self-serving stake would become biased.
The one area that I believe this becomes more and more prevalent is in the medical industry. Whereas those corporations who are under the stranglehold of the FDA and other world governments have tighter restrictions they must abide by, there are more and more pseudoscience monikers starting to pop up in order to capitalize off villianization of the pharmaceutical and medical industries.
Pseudoscience is defined as a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method. Junk science is defined as untested or unproven theories when presented as scientific fact, especially in a court of law. A lot of times you’ll see pseudoscience and junk science pop up in the realm of diet and nutrition, mental health, and drugs.
When embarking on something labeled as science that has not been heavily monitored by the rules and regulations by a government entity, such as the FDA here in the US, or European Medicines Agency (EMA), you are eliminating a safety net that has your best interests at heart. As someone who has worked in FDA regulated environments over a decade, I can vouch for that safety net and its necessity. Even if I was only on the information technology side of the wall, because even the systems we developed and tested had to be validated in a specific way according to FDA and EMA regulations and guidelines. There was no other way around it.
So, how do these pseudoscience and junk science people get around the FDA’s walls? Well, they use scare tactics. That’s pure and simple. They twist and turn articles from medical and science journals and publish them in lesser known journals that are not as trustworthy. They tout themselves as experts, while the majority of those in their field will tell you with a great deal of warning not to go there.
The consumer is usually the one who is the worst at falling into the realm of self-serving bias. This is because they pick and choose to hear what they want based on their desires, rather on valid scientific research data. They’ll look at the shiny lights and glamorous stars showing off what they have discovered, yet ignoring all of the clear warning signs telling them it isn’t the truth. It’s like believing that Gwyneth Paltow’s Goop site is receives the FDA’s golden seal of approval, because it never will. A sure sign that something is not legit is if it’s coming from an infomercial begging you to pay in three easy payments of just $39.95, plus shipping and handling. Let’s just face it, you’re just paying for the new pool at their new home in Malibu.
But, back on subject…
I have a lot of trepidation toward a lot of the new movements using marijuana as a treatment for a lot of ailments. I know it is becoming legal in a lot of states, and I know people who personally use it for different reasons. But I still have my own trepidation. So, I decided to see what the FDA had to say on the subject, and I was not surprised to see that the FDA has not approved any part of the botanical plant for medicinal use in any drug (FDA and Marijuana) . The one sentence that stood out to me is this: the FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication.
Now, there is a continuation on the topic of research in the article on the FDA’s website that reads:
The FDA supports researchers who conduct adequate and well-controlled clinical trials which may lead to the development of safe and effective marijuana products to treat medical conditions. We have talked to several states, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Pennsylvania, who are considering support for medical research of marijuana and its derivatives to ensure that their plans meet federal requirements and scientific standards.
I also thought it would be worth to note the information found on this page on the FDA’s website in regard to CBD Oil, as well (Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products).
I was also surprised that in light of the opiate crisis, there were pushes to use LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs for various treatments. I know that there is a push to legalize street drugs, but as someone who has dealt with addiction head-on, I just think it is a bunch of non-sense. You can’t paint lipstick on a pig and call it something else.
My suggestion is this:
If you really want to know if it is true, real, or justified, there are legitimate ways to find out. For one, the EMA and FDA do have archives and clinical trial searches on their website to help educate you on what is really going on. The warning letters and test results are very telling on what to steer clear of, as well. So, I suggested paying attention to those, too.
In the realm of diet and nutrition, I sought the counsel of someone I truly adore who is legitimate, has a degree from a legitimate program from a prestigious university, and is licensed. She directed me to this resource for whenever I do have questions, and I was surprised at what I found (Nutrition As I Know It: Nutrition Sources You Should Avoid). I’ve become skeptical over the last 50 years, only because if it has been touted as the next big miracle, I’ve tried it. And while some have been successful, I’ve pretty much still wound up as big as a house. But the one thing I have found is that nutrition is not the same for everyone, and not everything works for everyone. But working with a licensed dietitian or nutritionist is a great place to start.
I know for a fact that today’s blog will probably make me a few enemies, as I’ve attacked a few standards that people are pushing for these days. But, I just ask that you take a moment and think about why you think that way?
I was self-medicated for a very long time, and now medicated for probably just as long as that. I just came off of an addiction to benzos that was thanks to my prescriber. I just cannot go back there again, and hate to see people go down that road. For the first time in my life I’m finally on a cocktail that has me thinking clearly and feeling somewhat normal. Yeah, I get anxiety when I think about going into the grocery store, but honestly, who doesn’t. I struggle with the side-effects of those medications, and I’d love to find an alternative, but right now, I’m willing to work with my doctors to do better than to trust something that isn’t tested with a sound motive.
Just my thoughts on the subject.