Author Topic: The anecdote in diet  (Read 1831 times)

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Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2018, 09:36:54 PM »
Saying that some anecdotes are better than others is both a true and meaningless statement.
By what standard to we evaluate their merit? As skeptics, who do we promote a more robust standard of epistemology while telling people to effectively go with their gut on random anecdotes?
And to be clear, gut is all it is because its far easier to post hoc make an anecdote fit our purposes than a more rigorous body of data.
Why on earth would we need to move to anecdote when we have pretty good data anyway?

Did you actually read the linked article?  Did anyone else?
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2018, 03:05:24 AM »
Yes.

Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2018, 05:10:43 AM »
Yes.

Did you understand it?  Obviously, you didn’t.
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2018, 05:54:07 AM »
Yes.

Did you understand it?  Obviously, you didn’t.
Maybe I didnt. But Im pretty sure I did and just dont think it is making much of a worthwhile point.

Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2018, 03:17:41 PM »
Yes.

Did you understand it?  Obviously, you didn’t.
Maybe I didnt. But Im pretty sure I did and just dont think it is making much of a worthwhile point.

The point being made is that diet studies aren’t your ‘rigorous body of data’ as you claim.  Anecdotes have flaws.  So too diet studies.  Anecdotes and diet studies are complementary, not antagonistic. 

Diet studies have the flaws that they’re short term, compliance of their participants is uncertain, and extrapololation to general use by the population is doubtful. 

Anecdotes are self-selected stories, but they can be long term, and may provide clues as to what strategies work.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2018, 03:35:04 PM »
So, anecdotes in diet are pretty much as useful as they are in any other field, a useful starting point for further research?

Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2018, 04:13:23 PM »
So, anecdotes in diet are pretty much as useful as they are in any other field, a useful starting point for further research?

Yes, but they also can be a guide as to what people can try.  If a person has success with a reasonable strategy, and publishes a detailed account including any difficulties, then another person could try it, and see if it works.  Or not.  Having a plan is better than having no plan.

I’ve always said that the best diet for a person to attain and maintain a healthy body weight and body fat percentage is the one that the person can keep to for years and decades.  There’s a wide range of perfectly acceptable diets, provided they supply adequate essential fatty acids and amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.  Diet studies look at one or two diets, which mightn’t suit many or most people.
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2018, 05:38:27 PM »
But again- Its not like no anecdotes=no plan.

The article is just pointing out that its hard to study diet. We know that.
Just because both anecdotes and trials are both flawed, does not mean they are equally flawed and of equal utility.

Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2018, 06:56:11 PM »
But again- Its not like no anecdotes=no plan.

The article is just pointing out that its hard to study diet. We know that.
Just because both anecdotes and trials are both flawed, does not mean they are equally flawed and of equal utility.

I’m not claiming that trials and an anecdotes are ‘equally flawed and of equal utility.’  Obviously, they’re flawed differently and are of different utility.

Diet trials often show that there’s very little difference between diets in short term results.  But the diets studied are acceptable.  Highly fad diets such as the ‘all meat diet’ won’t be (or shouldn’t be) studied.  An anecdote reporting success with one of the acceptable diets might motivate a person to try a particular diet.  And if it works, to persist with it.  Anecdotes provide information not available in studies, such as problems, drawbacks, and strategies to make the diet work.

Diet studies and anecdotes are complementary.  Anecdotes shouldn’t be ignored as useless, but accepted with a grain of salt.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2018, 07:31:03 PM »
“Anecdotes shouldn’t be ignored as useless,”

I think they should be. Or at best they may be useful to suggest lines of study. But probably not even for that, as they would result in useless studies that waste money and time.
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Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2018, 11:58:34 PM »
“Anecdotes shouldn’t be ignored as useless,”

I think they should be. Or at best they may be useful to suggest lines of study. But probably not even for that, as they would result in useless studies that waste money and time.

I’m not saying that anecdotes should be used to suggest lines of study.  I’m saying anecdotes should be used after the studies have been done.  Diet studies rarely provide clear cut answers.

People such as CarbShark point to short term studies on their ideologically favoured diets (in CarbShark’s case low carbohydrate/high fat ketogenic diets), which demonstrate slighter greater weight loss (a significant proportion of which would be water) and a slightly different blood lipid profile (which may indicate that the diet may be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease), and then claim that they indicate their diet is best or healthiest.

Anecdotes would fill the gap between short term diet studies and long term observational studies (which are the only studies able to determine whether a diet is best in promoting health and increased life expectancy).  Anecdotes would provide information concerning ease or difficulty in compliance, and success or failure in attaining and maintaining a healthy body weight and body fat percentage.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2018, 10:08:43 AM »
My sister could wax eloquent for days with anecdotes about how wonderful acupuncture is for herself and for her dog. It’s practically cured her dog’s arthritis, according to her. Anecdote is the principle stock in trade of the alternative “medicine” crowd.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2018, 12:06:31 PM »
Here's the thing, when it comes to diet, the research is basically just anecdotes collected in a systematic way.   Its almost all self reported.   

So, I guess in that respect, anecdotes are valid evidence but only because the research is nearly impossible to do in a controlled fashion. 

To be clear, I still don't think the are especially informative, just saying the research isn't that informative either.  As they say, the best diet is the one you can stick too and stay healthy.

Offline Harry Black

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2018, 12:40:47 PM »
Here's the thing, when it comes to diet, the research is basically just anecdotes collected in a systematic way.   Its almost all self reported.   

So, I guess in that respect, anecdotes are valid evidence but only because the research is nearly impossible to do in a controlled fashion. 

To be clear, I still don't think the are especially informative, just saying the research isn't that informative either.  As they say, the best diet is the one you can stick too and stay healthy.
You still have the benefit of knowing that x number of people self reported in the same way. So you have some level of consistency and control for under or over reporting.

Online bachfiend

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Re: The anecdote in diet
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2018, 03:22:56 PM »
My sister could wax eloquent for days with anecdotes about how wonderful acupuncture is for herself and for her dog. It’s practically cured her dog’s arthritis, according to her. Anecdote is the principle stock in trade of the alternative “medicine” crowd.

I regard the anecdote in diet as filling the gap between the diet study and generalised recommendation for a population as a result of long term observational studies, in an analogous way to that of pharmaceutical drugs.  First there’s the therapeutic trials which allows a drug to be licensed and released on the market.  And then follow patients’ experiences of the drug - ‘anecdotes’ - which are just as informative.  Vioxx survived the therapeutic trials, and was an effective arthritis medication, but after it was released, it was realised that there were an excess of heart attacks, and it was withdrawn from the market.

Alternative medicine studies show that they just don’t work.  It’s not a matter of acupuncture being no better nor worse than conventional treatment.  With diet studies, it’s more of a case that one diet is no better or worse in producing weight loss.  Comparing subjective feelings after acupuncture aren’t the same as an objective weight loss with a particular diet.
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