Today, I read a horrifying statistic about the state of statistics. A group called All Trials has flatly stated that of all the clinical trials, encompassing hundreds of thousands of patients, 50% have never reported the results. They state this, and offer this research to back it up.
One can speculate many reasons why various research results have not been reported. But I keep coming back to one, solitary reason, which I suspect is the main reason, why results weren’t reported. They probably weren’t reported because the results were either contrary to previous results in a way that was uncomfortable or the results were likely to be unpopular with whoever asked for the study, financed the study or might be interested in reporting on the study.
If, to take a fictitious example, the green been growers association finances a study on the health effects of green beans, and the study fails to show any positive effect, it is unlikely that those results will ever see the light of day.
One wonders what effect this data dumping has on the massive amounts of research funded by or managed by either organizations pledged to fight obesity or companies that offer products and services to “cure” obesity or both. I, for one, would love to know what’s in that data dump.
If you are also interested in getting those results and fighting for greater transparency in clinical research, you can engage in a little very easy activism by going to the AllTrials website and clicking to join the petition.
And if you’re interested in doing even more to help fight bad research, stigmatizing policies and outright abuse of people of size, I am so very excited to announce our 2nd Annual Fat Activism Conference! We have such an amazing roster of speakers lined up. Once again, we have 2.5 days of online speeches and panels with loads of opportunities for you to ask questions, share your thoughts and get involved! And this year we will also be offering access to our brand new Fat Activism E-Book!
And in the name of full transparency, I want to let you know that everybody who is involved in putting on the conference will share in the profits. The conference organizers (me and Ragen Chastain), the organizing committee, all the speakers and all the sales affiliates will share in the profits of the conference. So not only will you be learning from and reading about some amazing fat activists, you will be helping to support those who do this important work. The conference runs October 9-11 and we are looking forward to seeing you there! Click here to get your tickets at the super early bird price!
I can’t wait to see you there!
Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
I think you are both correct here. Confirmation bias is the researcher’s worst enemy.
I’d guess that one of the biggest reason in addition to what you said, is studies that don’t find statistically significant results. Research has a major bias of seeing results that show no statistically significant difference between groups as meaning that they didn’t find anything. The result is that when you go looking for published research on something, the results are often biased toward showing difference. This means studies conducted comparing obese and non-obese subjects, those that find a difference are far more likely to be published than those which show no difference, same with studies on gender difference, et cetera.
Very good point! Thanks!