What to do when good research gives you a bad result?

All good scientists know that the balance of evidence from objective, well designed research is the only sound basis for making recommendations. 

So what happens when we don’t like the results we get from research?  I was astounded to read recently about the Soil Association’s response to a piece of research which, added to existing research in this area, found that organic vegetables were not nutritionally superior to their standard counterparts.   Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said:

“We are disappointed in the conclusions the researchers have reached. It doesn’t say organic food is not healthier, just that, according to the criteria they have adopted, there’s no proof that it is.”

Likewise, on last night’s TV3 6 o’clock news, after an article highlighting recent research findings on sunbeds and melanomas there was a comment by a man representing the sunbed industry.  He said people need to weigh up health risks such as this with all of the many health benefits to be gained from using sunbeds.


As a busy person, getting to lie down and relax for 10-15 mins a couple of times a week might be good for my stress levels I guess.  Aside from that I cannot imagine what he means by health benefits – especially since what you’re weighing it against is a 75% greater risk of getting melanoma, if you’re under 30 years of age.

My point is that research is research.  While statistics can be manipulated to some extent, the balance of evidence is the balance of evidence.  If there is equivalent quality research to refute the findings and recommendations from other research this should be articulated.  If not, accept the facts for what they are.

Categories: Nutrition and Health

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