Medical Research – Is it Mostly Bogus?

This is the conclusion of a recent article from The Atlantic Magazine article:

“Science is a noble endeavor, but it’s also a low-yield endeavor,” he says. “I’m not sure that more than a very small percentage of medical research is ever likely to lead to major improvements in clinical outcomes and quality of life. We should be very comfortable with that fact.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269

Have we been sold a bill of goods about the usefulness of psychotropic medications? Are we really taking more or less placebo drugs, or  medications that have not truly been proven effective except anecdotally? I feel for example, that Zyprexa helps me — to read and feel enthusiastic about life etc, but who is to say that I would not feel the same off all antipsychotic drugs, after a slow weaning period? I do not mean to suggest that everyone should stop taking their meds, I only wonder, after reading this article and others  if we really know much about the research that has gone into “proving” the efficacy of what we are being told to take for “our own good.”

Here is my own comment on the article above, which you will see at the bottom, if you read that far:  “Haven’t read all comments but if it has not been already stated, chaos theory is relevant here: sensitive dependence on initial conditions means that especially with regard to weather, it is impossible to predict the behavior of large systems even a day in advance, as we in New England know all too well. In terms of medical research, this holds as well, and indeed, it is all too often the case that what a researcher predicts is precisely what she or he “discovers”. Real scientific research should aim to falsify the hypothesis, rather than “prove” it true. Science can never prove anything absolutely true, it can only evaluate the relative usefulness of a hypothesis by the fact that so far no one has shown or proven it to be wrong.”

It is the last part that is particularly relevant: no one tries to prove their research hypotheses WRONG any longer. They only want to prove them correct. But that is easy. You simply manipulate a little data,  or eliminate those irritating bits of information that aren’t as pretty as the those that look really good when published in respectable journals or when advertised in glossy two page ads to the public. But truly scientific studies ought to try to show that a hypothesis, say that Zyprexa is an effective treatment for schizophrenia (a “squishy” diagnosis in itself) is  in fact not true, and ought to do this many times in many different ways. If  many studies fail to show that Zyprexa is not  ineffective in treating schizophrenia, then doctors might be justified in using it as a treatment, for the time being, until, at any rate, it is shown – if indeed it ever is — to be ineffective, or less effective than some other treatment. That is the correct use and usefulness of the scientific method. But research rarely proceeds that way any longer. All researchers care about these days is getting “proof” something is “true” that is, that something “works” which they do in all too many cases by massaging the facts and data.

If anyone is interested in discussing this article, please add your comments to this blog’s comment section and I will post them below, with my own responses. I would very much like to hear from you, esp with regard to anything you have to say about psychotropic drugs and your own experiences and knowledge of relevant research.

One thought on “Medical Research – Is it Mostly Bogus?”

  1. I`m on ZYPREXA right now. I am biopolor 1 and still is my first normal week not that normal but close ! I have multi other issuses ! Trying to solve ! But my memory is not so great but I write things down I`m on it for exactly one month. I`ll know in two more if side affects bother me. I sure you all know I know the system already…

Talk to me! Let's continue the conversation.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s