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CrossFit Health is an investigation into the ills of modern medicine and the wilful abuse of the public’s trust in science. The lessons learned from the legal dismantling of fake science, a crooked journal, and perjuring scientists have given us a forensic view as to how everything might have gone so wrong. We’re calling the combination of runaway medical costs and disease rates — which many profit from but none combat effectively — “The Mess.”

In these contrasting pieces, two authors provide differing argumentation regarding whether the replication crisis, p-hacking, and similar well-documented issues indicate science is broken or working as intended in a self-correcting process.

Read MoreIs Science Broken?

“American taxpayers spend $30 billion annually funding biomedical research. By some estimates, half of the results from these studies can’t be replicated elsewhere — the science is simply wrong. Often, research institutes and academia emphasize publishing results over getting the right answers, incentivizing poor experimental design, improper methods, and sloppy statistics. Bad science doesn’t just hold back medical progress, it can sign the equivalent of a death sentence. ... In Rigor Mortis, award-winning science journalist Richard F. Harris reveals these urgent issues with vivid anecdotes, personal stories, and interviews with the nation’s top biomedical researchers. We need to fix our dysfunctional biomedical system — now.”

Read MoreRigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions

Cristin Kearns was managing dental clinics for Kaiser and researching the link between gum disease and Type 2 diabetes when she came across a brochure with the CDC’s dietary recommendations for diabetics. The bad advice she found in the brochure forever altered the trajectory of her career and led to her development of a large digital archive — a record of instances in which the Sugar Association, a 501(c)6 formerly known as the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), used public relations campaigns and industry funding to influence scientific research, education, and public policy in support of its mission to promote sugar consumption.

Watch How Big Sugar Influences Nutrition Science: A First Glimpse at Sugar Industry Documents

In the final installment in his series on pathological science, Gary Taubes claims institutionalized skepticism is a necessary trait in any legitimate scientific field. He brings this claim to bear on modern research on nutrition and chronic disease and notes a tendency to act on poorly formed or ineffectively tested hypotheses. Scientists who call for the implementation of such hypotheses ask for trust without having performed the rigorous research necessary to earn it, Taubes claims, and when this practice becomes the norm, an entire field of research can become pathological. “A healthy scientific enterprise allows for no shortcuts,” he writes.

Read MorePathological Science, Part 3

"In recent years, hospitals and medical centers across the country have stopped selling sugar-sweetened beverages in an effort to reduce obesity and diabetes. Now a new study carried out at the University of California, San Francisco, has documented the health impact of a soda sales ban on its employees. Ten months after a sales ban went into effect, U.C.S.F. workers who tended to drink a lot of sugary beverages had cut their daily intake by about half. By the end of the study period, the group had, on average, reduced their waist sizes and belly fat, though they did not see any changes in their body mass index. Those who cut back on sugary beverages also tended to see improvements in insulin resistance, a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes."

Read MoreSugary Drink Ban Tied to Health Improvements at Medical Center

In part two of his series on pathological science, Gary Taubes estimates the extent to which self-deceit has infiltrated scientific research and further investigates whether entire disciplines have become pathological. His inquiries lead to meditations on the necessary characteristics of rigorous scientific study. One indication that health-related research has become pathological, he suggests, is its experts’ tendency to view “placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized-controlled trials as the ‘gold standard’ of scientific evidence.” This view, he argues, represents “a lack of understanding of the scientific endeavor,” because “these trials are simply what’s necessary to establish reliable knowledge.”

Read MorePathological Science, Part 2

In this three-part series, Gary Taubes investigates what Irving Langmuir terms “pathological science,” or the “science of things that aren’t so.” Taubes distinguishes pathological science from fraud, which is characterized by a person’s attempt to deceive others, arguing rather that participants in pathological science delude themselves. He compares this self-deceit to what Richard Feynman famously called "Cargo Cult Science." And while researchers and philosophers of science have long expressed concern over the possibility of self-deceit distorting scientific truth, Taubes questions whether the problem has grown rampant today. “The possibility exists that entire disciplines may be essentially pathological,” he writes.

Read MorePathological Science, Part 1

In October 2013, cardiologist and professor of evidence-based medicine Dr. Aseem Malhotra published an editorial in the BMJ entitled “Saturated Fat Is Not the Major Issue.” There, he contradicted popular wisdom about saturated fat consumption contributing to heart disease and claimed the medical establishment’s focus on lowering cholesterol to improve heart health had led to the overprescription of statin drugs with negative side effects. Though the scientific evidence was on his side, many in the scientific and medical communities were not. Here he describes the history and inner workings of the ongoing conflict and the lessons to be gleaned from it.

Read More The Great Statin Scam – Time to Clean up the Mess

“Two drug companies have argued that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) should stop making public any information on clinical trials that businesses consider commercially confidential. These cases, taken by Merck and by PTC Therapeutics, are now waiting on a final judgment from the European Court of Justice. Yannis Natsis, patient representative on the EMA board, said that the EU was at the forefront of clinical trial data transparency worldwide but that this position was threatened by the pending judgment. He said, ‘This will mean that data secrecy will over-ride the public interest of disclosure which is now the default option. It will be a major blow to patient safety, scientific progress, and society at large. Pharmaceutical companies—one of the most secretive business sectors—have long fought against clinical trial transparency, harming patients. The public interest needs to prevail over narrow commercial interests.’”

Read the articleEuropean drug regulator fears return to days of data secrecy

The benefit of preventive drugs such as statins is often quantified as the “number needed to treat,” or NNT, which reflects the number of subjects who would need to be given a drug for one negative clinical event to be prevented. For example, if the NNT for a statin preventing cardiovascular death is 40, it suggests that for every 40 patients given a statin, one cardiovascular death will be prevented. This number, however, distorts the likely reality of the benefit distribution by suggesting a single subject receives the entire benefit while other subjects receive no benefit. This 2014 review aimed to quantify the clinical impact of statins differently, assessing the mean extension of life due to statin treatment. The analysis found the median benefit associated with statin use was 3.2 days in primary prevention and 4.1 days in secondary prevention. In other words, statins extended life expectancy by less than a week. Separate research suggests if the benefits of statins were explained this way, the majority of subjects would not choose to take them.

Read MoreThe Effect of Statins on Average Survival in Randomised Trials, An Analysis of End Point Postponement

In September 2019, "The Chair of the British Parliament Science and Technology Committee, Sir Norman Lamb MP made calls for a full investigation into cholesterol lowering statin drugs. It was instigated after a letter was written to him signed by a number of eminent international doctors including the editor of the BMJ, the Past President of the Royal College of Physicians and the Director of the Centre of Evidence Based Medicine in Brazil wrote a letter calling for a full parliamentary inquiry into the controversial medication. Here, lead author Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra makes the case for [why] there’s an urgent need for such an investigation."

Read the articleDo statins really work? Who benefits? Who has the power to cover up the side effects?

"Last March, Canada's department of health changed the way it handles the huge amount of data that companies submit when seeking approval for a new drug, biological treatment, or medical device — or a new use for an existing one. For the first time, Health Canada is making large chunks of this information publicly available after it approves or rejects applications. … Researchers who independently re-evaluate drugs say the reports are critical because the data they need is not readily available in medical journal articles. One analysis showed that only about half of clinical trials examined were written up in journals in a timely fashion and a third went unpublished. And when articles are published, they contain much less data than the reports. ... In addition, ‘journal articles emphasize benefits and underplay or, in some cases, even ignore harms’ that can be found in the clinical study report data.”

Read the articleCanada's Decision To Make Public More Clinical Trial Data Puts Pressure On FDA

Science is immersed in a crisis of reproducibility, but how can science go so badly wrong? Here, an anonymous author with intimate knowledge of the academic world and its research and publishing practices addresses this question, drawing examples from his formative years in the university and ensuing professional life. Citing firsthand experiences wherein he witnessed the impact of questionable research practices, conflicts of interest, and perverse career incentives, he explains how “the very enterprise of research can deviate systematically from the paths of truth.”

Read MoreWhy Do Scientists Cheat?

“There seems to be a prevalent idea that cholesterol is a wholly undesirable substance. It should be pointed out that it is an essential constituent of all animal tissues and undoubtedly plays an important role in the normal function of all cells. To eliminate cholesterol from the diet means the elimination of animal foods from the diet — meats, milk, eggs, etc. These are the protective foods which nutritionists have clearly shown are essential for an adequate diet. … The proposition that low cholesterol diets be used as a preventive for the development of atherosclerosis would mean that animal foods be omitted from our diets. This is equivalent to the negation of practically all that nutrition science has taught us in the past. Such a course may well be disastrous.”

Read the editorialComments on Cholesterol: D. M. Hegsted, G. V. Mann, F. J. Stare, and Lewis J. Moorman in 1952

Maryanne Demasi, an investigative journalist with a Ph.D. in rheumatology, shares highlights from her interview with Danish physician Uffe Ravnskov. Ravnskov, a famed cholesterol skeptic, has gained worldwide significance for his persistent fight against the demonization of cholesterol. Though he once believed additional research would “out the absurdity of a narrative that cast saturated fats and cholesterol as dietary villains,” he has since become an active crusader against misinformation and the corruption of science, publishing more than a hundred articles in well-known scientific journals in an effort to set the record straight on cholesterol.

Read MoreIn Conversation with Uffe Ravnskov

In this talk at CrossFit’s 2017 Health Conference, Australian orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Fettke presents a history of the junk science behind prevailing nutrition guidelines. Fettke has come under attack for his critique of the mainstream: Because of his dietary recommendations (“low-carb, healthy fat”), Fettke was reported to Australia’s medical board. But “the message is too important to be silenced,” Fettke states. “I feel that the combination of fructose, refined carbohydrate, and polyunsaturated oils is toxic, inflammatory, and at the root cause of all disease that we look at.”

Watch Dr. Gary Fettke: The Role of Nutrition in Everything

Gary Taubes is an award-winning investigative science and health journalist, and author of numerous books related to nutrition and the obesity epidemic. In this talk, delivered at the annual CrossFit Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 31, 2018, Taubes turns a critical eye toward a more expansive subject, historicizing the corruption of postmodern science and examining the distinctions between good and bad scientific research.

Watch Gary Taubes: Postmodern Infection of Science and the Replication Crisis

Both clinical behavior and journal editorial decisions are often based on scientific abstracts alone rather than a consideration of the entire study and data. Consequently, any deviations between the content of these abstracts and the actual data — here referred to as “spin” — can distort the impact of the scientific literature. This 2019 paper assessed the frequency and nature of spin in the titles and abstracts of psychiatry research as one form of such distortion, finding that more than half of all psychiatric papers surveyed have titles and/or abstracts that do not accurately reflect the study results and instead present a neutral or negative finding as positive.

Read MoreEvaluation of spin in abstracts of papers in psychiatry and psychology journals

Dr. Jason Fung has grown wary of scientific research that purports to be “evidence based.” A well-known nephrologist and author, Fung often speaks about Type-2 diabetes reversal and the metabolic effects of intermittent fasting, but in this presentation from Dec. 15, 2018, he turns his focus toward the many ways the foundations of evidence-based medicine have become corrupted by financial conflicts of interest. Those corruptions include Big Pharma's habit of buying practicing physicians with gifts, influencing scientific publications by paying off their editors, and skewing the medical research through tactics such as selective publication and changing the trial endpoints — all of which may lead to the unnecessary or even dangerous overprescription of drugs.

WatchDr. Jason Fung: Financial Conflicts of Interest and the End of Evidence-Based Medicine

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