Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Myths We Love

Megan Scudellari’s, “Myths that will not die,” (Nature, Dec. 17, 2015 Vol. 528 pages 322-325) http://www.nature.com/news/the-science-myths-that-will-not-die-1.19022 focused on five myths: (1) screening saves lives for all types of cancer; (2) antioxidants are good and free radicals are bad; (3) humans have exceptionally large brains; (4) individuals learn best when taught in their preferred learning style; and, (5) the human population is growing exponentially.

Each statement had some initial evidence to support it but over time more research challenged the initial outcomes. What was compelling as I read the article was realizing that there were factors that seem to perpetuate if not strengthen a myth. These factors include a vocal community of supporters; the development of products, industries, and research lines to address or remedy the situation; and, attempts to discredit new research. As a result, myths like lies that are repeated, become accepted as truth. In the end the damage is done to all of us because rather than moving forward with science we are in a chokehold because of what others want us to believe.

As I look forward to 2016 and beyond, my hope is that as our knowledge grows we will use information wisely and change what we know and espouse. "Trust, but verify," should apply to much of what we do in health so that we can achieve the healthier and longer lives we all want.