A new study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, based entirely on a review of 47 previous peer reviewed studies concludes that treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.
The scientific world loves peer reviewed studies, and there is indeed much to recommend them. But there is also a major flaw that rots away at their core.
Once a study is peer reviewed and published — no matter how flawed that study is — it now exists in the scientific literature and is available to be cited over and over again in future studies. It doesn’t matter if the original study was funded by a pharmaceutical company with an agenda, if the researchers falsified data for personal renown, or if the basic methodology was just plain incorrect — in fact, it doesn’t even matter if the study was later refuted by other researchers — once it has been published, it now exists as scientific fact, available for citation. And what makes the problem even worse is that when it is cited in a new study, all of the details that allow you to see its flaws are gone. Only the conclusions are cited so that they now appear irrefutable.
So what am I talking about? A “new study” just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, based entirely on a review of 47 previous peer reviewed studies concludes that “treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality. The potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study.” This is poppycock! There is nothing new here, just a rehashing of flawed studies, a number of which I’ve already dealt with. For example: