Correlation and Causality ran wild
We are overrun with studies, not a day goes by or we learn another result of a study. Alcohol is good for the heart, alcohol causes cancer. Smoking is unhealthy, smoke is good against dementia. The climate warms, the climate cools, the climate does both at the same time.
Why one wonders, are so many studies contradictory?
The underlying reason for this type confusing headlines is that many scientists confuse correlation with causality. They do a study, find a link between the one and the other (correlation) and then they just assume causality.
A point in case:
Conclusion of a study: Meat causes cancer, especially red meat.
Correlation: more meat more cancer.
Causality: Almost all meat, but certainly red meat, is roasted/baked/grilled. The process of roasting/baking/grilling produces aromatic esters which are known long time to be carcinogenic. Red meat is nearly always roasted/baked/grilled therefore one sees more cancer in people who eat red meat.
The conclusion of the study would then have to be: Fried food increased the risk of cancer.
I will try to make the dangers of such correlation/causality clear by means of an example how this process takes place.
The hypothesis that obesity is detrimental to the health.
It doesn’t take much reading to discover this to be completely false but nevertheless time and time again we are brainwashed that we must be slim, be sportive, eat healthy.
So how is it nevertheless possible that we’re brainwashed to believe so, to go so far as to take cholesterol lowering medication, whose dangerous side effects far outweigh the benefits (if any) whereas there only is a correlation between CVD, but no causal relation has ever been proven.
The complete Fat is unhealthy tale started with the discovery of a remote village where the inhabitants suffered less frequently CVD then average for the rest of the population. After much research a correlation was found:
The majority of the inhabitants had a genetic condition causing low cholesterol levels.
This correlation instantly became a causal relation in the eyes of the scientists. The conclusion was quickly made high cholesterol is the cause of CVD .
Having decided that, it became a small step to conclude that being Fat is unhealthy is because fatter people have on average higher cholesterol levels.
The disease FAT was born.
A lot of studies were undertaken especially to prove that it was really a causal relation, and where there’s vested interest anything can be proven Be wary of studies
By now it is widely accepted that BMI is an idiotic way of measuring weight, where a highly trained heavyweight boxer has a higher BMI than your average couch potato. But since all studies to date use BMI as an indicator, I’ll use that here as well.
These kinds of newspaper headlines out of many like it you’ll never see:
Fat protects against diabetes
Doesn’t matter which kind of fat, it’s all the same
Obese people live longer, and are less prone to fall ill
If one just glances at the abstract briefly one gets the impression that FAT indeed is not good for you. But if one reads it well and adds up the mortality rate it is obvious that in fact allcause mortality amongst people with BMI greater than 25 is an amazing 100,000 less in the same time period than people with a BMI smaller than 25.
Even more amazing still, fatal CVD was 17000 less at a BMI larger than 25 in comparison with BMI smaller than 25.
If you actually buy the study, you’ll see stunning numbers completely contradicting the FAT is Bad thesis.
Take this research: Why don’t they die, dammit?
The first sentence is immediately clear: Obesity is an established cardiovascular risk factor.
Really? Mmm, that’s open for debate
We read on:
Conclusions: Poststroke mortality is inversely related to BMI: overweight and obese stroke patient have a lower poststroke mortality rate than normal-weight and underweight patient.
The researchers assumed as a definite fact that FAT is Bad and increases your risks for fatal CVD only to conclude how skinnier you are how greater the risk of dying.
In science this is called the Obesity Paradox. What is paradoxical? Well, since medical science is 100% convinced that FAT is Bad, but studies do show conclusively the inverse is the case it is a paradox.
Anyone else would realize that the hypothesis is false and adapt it to reflect the findings, but here it is a paradox.
It must be a paradox because there huge amounts spent on weight control. The billions of profits for the pharmaceutical industry, what an invention, you sell a pill to people who have absolutely no health problems which they must take for the rest of their natural lives and which has so many detrimental side effects that you are assured of an ever ongoing flow of income from other illnesses but of which can never be determined if it was effective or not.
The medical industry profits also, because if FAT is a malady they also have an enormous source of income remedy that. And if people on average become skinnier, then adjust you simply the`good BMI‘ down (Again).
The paramedical industry would have never existed in its current size without the illness FAT.For this reason the illness FAT has become of vital economic importance.
a) Billions of tax revenues from the pharmaceutical/medical industry.
b) Employment for hundreds of thousands healthcare workers.
c) Billions spent on `healthy’ food.
d) Billions spent on the sport cults, moving is healthy, or is it? Perhaps not?
Here we see a clear example how confusing correlation with causality rendered the lives of millions of people miserable and wasted years of research, money and energy.
Various recent releases:
BMI and Mortality: Results From a National Longitudinal Study of Canadian Adults
Obesity paradox at work (pdf alert)
Cholesterol dislodged as important CVD marker
BMI under scrutiny
BMI under scrutiny part 2
The real reason for CVD? (pdf alert)
All CVD markers pretty useless
Statins have no benefits for the majority of users.
Diet has no effect on overall disease risk.
Its the inflammation, not the fat.
Just in, funny and sad
Exercise major cause of heart attacks.
The very latest:
Genetic Study Shows That Low Body Fat May Not Lower Risk for Heart Disease and Diabetes
Low Salt diet kills
And finally even the BMJ chimes in
Fat not bad
Yet another study disproving the Fat is Bad
Fat is really not bad
Gnashing of teeth with anti-fat cult
Substudy Examines Effects of Obesity on STEMI Outcomes
New Insights into the Statin-Cholesterol Controversy (yes they are hazardous to your health)
New Insights into the Statin-Cholesterol Controversy