I know it’s a tough subject to discuss even the idea of evaluating medical studies but today I’m going to try to make it as simple as possible for you.
The best thing to consider right off hand is whether the medical journal or research facility you’re getting your information sound credible.
For instance, the New England Journal of Medicine is one of the top publications in the field. If you find something from their publication, you’re off to a good start. You might even be able to ignore the rest of this advice and go merrily along your way.
However, something called the New Journal of Medicine might not be what you’re looking for. Not because it’s bad, but because it hasn’t developed a reputation in the medical community. I don’t even know if the New Journal of Medicine exists. I just know that nobody is talking about it. See what I’m getting at here? Reputation is first and foremost.
Second, you want to check out the size of the group studied. Maybe a year or so ago, there was this study released by a university (which is usually not a bad start as well) that most college men would rape if they knew for sure they could get away with it.
The study concluded that most men in America would rape a woman given the chance. However, it didn’t take long, thankfully, for people to realize the study only surveyed less than 80 men and in a very localized area.
There was also a lack of a control group, which is another thing we’ll discuss in a minute. That study was considered invalid and a waste of the general public’s time. Misinformation like that is what makes most people dumb.
Okay, enough of that portion. Sorry to rant. Where was I? Oh yeah. Control groups. Every study, regardless of subject, needs a control group. Once you have the group size down, take note of whether your study has mentioned a control group.
If it hasn’t, then that’s not a good sign. A control group refers to a portion of people that were isolated from the study and taken outside of the equation. So for the study mentioned above, it would have been wise to have surveyed convicted men and ask them if they would do it again if they wouldn’t get caught. This way we as researchers would know whether that instinct is there in all of us (hint: it’s not) or if it’s only there in those that are just unwilling to get caught.
Highly legitimate studies are often financed by big name corporations. The Red Cross will often finance medical studies, as will research development hospitals.
If the finances for a study are mentioned to have come from an anonymous donor or not mentioned at all, that’s not a good sign either. These donators of course want to see some results, but they also don’t mind the publicity either. Which is a costly piece of advertising considering how much a lot of studies cost.
In essence, just be on the lookout and remain curious. Ask questions and don’t take headlines as gospel.