What’s the danger of ignoring the data that doesn’t support your claim while only presenting data that does? On Instagram @AndreaHardyRD, I talk all about how important it is to take into consideration the weight of the entire body of research when looking into nutrition information.

  • Image of @andreahardyrd Instagram post about cherry picking data

Hands up if you’ve heard the term ‘cherry picking data’ before ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธโ โ €#scicommunity
โ โ €
Cherry picking data happens in research papers but where I most often see it is in extreme opinions online.โŒ๐Ÿ’โ โ €
โ โ €
๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ๐๐ข๐œ๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธโ โ €
– you have a particular opinion on somethingโ โ €
– you seek out articles that confirm your opinionโ โ €
– you ignore articles that refute your opinionโ โ €
and then…โ โ €
โ โ €
๐Ÿ“ฑyou make an Instagram post that reads like the whole truth and call it ‘research’.๐Ÿ“ฑโ โ €
โ โ €
Sounds harsh? I don’t know how else to describe the ๐๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐›๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐จ๐ฆ๐ข๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง of information in favour of pushing a particular, usually extreme, opinion as ‘fact’. โ โ €
โ โ €
I find it even harder to teach you how to identify this, because without a solid foundation of knowledge in that exact topic – it can be SO hard.โ โ €
โ โ €
๐Ÿ“ขSo I’ll leave you with this gem from my TEDx talk. ๐Ÿ“ขโ โ €
โ โ €
๐ƒ๐Ž ๐€ ๐†๐”๐“ ๐‚๐‡๐„๐‚๐Š:โ โ €
โ โ €
๐Ÿ™€If nutrition information in a news article, Instagram post, Celebrity claim scares you, it’s PROBABLY NOT TRUE. ๐Ÿ™€โ โ €
โ โ €
If anything makes you go ‘Whhhhhaaaaaattt?!’ it’s worth a quick look at if they cherry picked or what other biases that particular piece of information holds. โ โ €
โ โ €
The body of science ebbs and flows. It’s nuanced. No ONE study ‘proves’ anything – we need to look at the entire weight of evidence and see how it balances out. And… this can change over time! โ โ €
โ โ €
๐Ÿฅ›I’ve linked to a post called ‘๐ˆ๐ฌ ๐ƒ๐š๐ข๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ƒ๐ž๐š๐๐ฅ๐ฒ?’ on @ignite.nutrition.inc blog, written by our @dietitianmarlee about a published, peer reviewed (and, how?!) article in NEJM from Willet et. al. refuting the paper that everyone had that ‘WHhhhhAAAttttt?!” reaction to. โ โ €
โ โ €
The blog highlights how bias can even present itself in the literature. This paper is describe as a ‘summary of evidence’ but REALLY is a summary of cherry picked evidence to prove a particular point, and did NOT discuss the entire body of evidence, or even any limitations, as should be done in a review paper.โ โ €
โ โ €
Bottom line: we need to be careful even when reading the science.๐Ÿฅ›โ โ €
โ