Trivial Web Survey Finds Irrelevent Non-Fact Type Thing

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Ever wondered if you’re gonna get happier or sadder as you get older?  Wonder not!  Yahoo has your back.

Here’s a wildly simple, profoundly interesting question: At what age are you happiest? According to a recent survey, the answer is 33.

A recent survey you say?  Well, clearly the answer of 33 can’t be subjective or nonsensical if people told interviewers that specific number on average, right?

Friends Reunited, a U.K. website, found that 70 percent of respondents over the age of 40 said they did not find true happiness until they were 33 years old.

So, let me get this straight.  Not only is this information coming from a UK perspective (and thus potentially culturally dependent and irrelevant to the rest of the world), but it’s also based on a website’s aggregated information!  Lets forgive them for using poorly controlled and statistically unrepresentative data collection methods for the time being and focus on the former problem.

Oh, if only journalists were scientifically literate, maybe they would’ve realized the claim only applies to Brits!  Wouldn’t it be nice if this data was qualified in some way so that journalists would avoid making that mistake?  Taking a look at the original press release’s title…

33 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER, AS NEW REPORT REVEALS THIS IS THE AGE BRITS ARE AT THEIR HAPPIEST

Awkwaaard.

Here’s a couple of classic cherry picking non-sequitors to cement the absurdity.

As the site pointed out, Jesus Christ was crucified at age 33. Oh, and “33-year-old celebrities like Jennifer Love Hewitt, Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine and Katie Holmes seem to be enjoying a wealth of success right now.”

So there you have it folks, Jesus was British.

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Super Sure Sounds Scientific To Me

9 Spices With Super Healing Powers

I could write an intro but I’m not in the mood for that sort of thing today.  Lets do this Ninja Style.  We’re gonna jump straight to the assassination.

Cinnamon is a nutritional powerhouse, with antioxidant properties that keep cells safe from oxidative stress and dangerous free radicals. Antioxidants help fight such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.

A wild claim has appeared!  Gee, I wonder what the science says about antioxidants.

There is widespread scientific agreement that eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables can help lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. With respect to antioxidants and other phytochemicals, the key question is whether supplementation has been proven to do more good than harm. So far, the answer is no, which is why the FDA will not permit any of these substances to be labeled or marketed with claims that they can prevent disease.

Allow me to unsheath my kunai here and get right to the point:  isn’t it great that the assholes peddling this crap don’t even need to test the FDA’s resolve thanks to irresponsible media outlets?  Journalists inject these spurious claims straight into the public consciousness much faster than any advertiser could, it’s far more effective than any crap they could scribble on the packaging.

You may say, “But, these spices are fruits and vegetables.”  Yes, that’s true, but when they talk about eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables they don’t mean putting a little bit of cinnamon on your doughnut every morning.  It is uncontroversial that following certain eating habits can generate good health, but trying to piggy-back supplementation on that claim (even through spices) is the nutritional equivalent of invoking homeopathic logic.

The fun doesn’t stop there, but I’ll let someone else bloody their katana on the rest of the poorly supported (“one study in 200x confirmed it, so lets give dietary advice based on it”) garbage contained in that poor excuse for an article.

Healthy eating may help ADHD kids: US study

(Source)

First off, I love the title. “Attention ADHD kids:  it may be a good idea to eat healthy.”  Shocking!  Eating healthy might be good for people?!  Okay, sarcasm over, lets look at some quotes:

Simply eating healthier may improve the behavior of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder if therapy and medication fail, said a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.Researchers, however, said that their review of recent controlled scientific studies had shown conflicting evidence on the impact of supplements and restricted diets — in some cases they were no better than the placebo effect.

They outright admit that there is mixed evidence right off the bat and they’re defining eating healthy as a restrictive diet with supplements?  Okay.  Time for the first ever curse uttered on this blog.  You ready?  I am:  what the fucking fuck-fuck.  Lets read more, shall we?  I know I’m feeling masochistic.

The precise causes of ADHD are unknown, although studies have pointed to hereditary factors as well as social and environmental influences. Eating high-sugar and high-fat foods may exacerbate symptoms, some research has shown.But while proposed interventions such as giving iron supplements or cutting out additives and food dyes have soared in popularity in recent years, the Pediatrics article said there is little solid science to back up those claims.Similarly, studies focused on getting rid of potential allergens in the diet such as wheat, eggs, chocolate, cheese and nuts, have shown limited success with some ADHD kids “but a placebo effect could not be excluded,” said the study.Even when it comes to sugar and diet soda, two elements which many parents believe can trigger hyperactivity in children, scientific studies have been unable to prove a definitive link.

No casual mechanism has been found between ADHD and diet, and in many instances they can’t even prove a link, yet they’re testing changing the diet to cure it.  Yeah, that sounds like good science to me!

For many parents, simply paying more attention to feeding their kids a healthy diet, rich in fish, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole-grains, is likely to help.”A greater attention to the education of parents and children in a healthy dietary pattern, omitting items shown to predispose to ADHD, is perhaps the most promising and practical complementary or alternative treatment of ADHD,” said the study.

So lets see, in review… Conflicting research, lack of a casual link, talk of complimentary, and alternative medicine.  Consider this in a Bayesian fashion:  one new study comes out that is evidence for something. There is already plenty of evidence against it.  This study the proverbial drop in the bucket right here, it proves absolutely nothing.  Worst of all, the average, scientifically illiterate reader who stumbles across this will only read the headline and then substitute in whatever their view of healthy eating is as the miracle ADHD cure that stems from patient empowerment!

Some people will walk away from this article thinking that their kid only has ADHD because they’re not eating properly. It’s difficult to say this is a bad thing if it means a couple of kids out there eat healthier, but healthy eating is a nebulous term to begin with.  To many parents, this means “I need to buy more organic produce.”  Science hasn’t even conclusively determined whether dieting is about calorie in calorie out or something more complex, but we’re ready to cure neurological disorders that we don’t even understand through judicious application of fruits, vegetables, and fish?

What’s probably going on here is very simple:  in administering the restrictive diet to their child, they’re giving them more structure and order in their life.  That child is learning to control their eating impulses better and to adhere to those dietary rules set up, so it’s probably having an effect on their general behavior.  You can chalk the rest of the improvements up to the placebo effect and the changes in their body resulting from becoming healthier people.  In short, there is no reason to believe the link this crappy article presupposes.

Thanks for uncritically giving a sounding board to more dietary and supplemental bullshit, Yahoo!  Now I’m tempted to go dig up their link about Vitamin D deficiencies and depression (spoiler alert:  by link, I mean they found a correlation and no causative mechanism).