Monday, February 26, 2018

"Big Oregano Strikes Again"

I can't wait until he gets around to some of the spurious correlations propagated by the International Parsley Cartel.

From Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference and Social Science:
Paul Alper writes:
You recall the University of Maryland chocolate milk cure for concussion [Bigmilk Strikes Again].
A new version of the same sloppiness is discussed here.
Alper is linking to a news article, “University of Iowa ignores questions about its oregano ‘cure’ for cancer-wasting syndrome,” by Eric Holland, who writes:
At the beginning of 2016, contributor Andrew Holtz and I spent months chasing down the facts behind a too-good-to-be-true news release about the benefits of chocolate milk for recovery from concussions.
Our reporting led to scrutiny from national news outlets and sparked a months-long internal investigation by the University of Maryland. That investigation uncovered dozens of problems with how the university conducts its research and how it communicates study findings to the public. . . .
But now it seems those lessons haven’t been universally heeded. Last week we came across a news release from the University of Iowa that made an unusually spicy claim: researchers had discovered compounds derived from oregano and thyme that are a possible “cure” for cachexia, the wasting disease affecting patients with cancer and other illnesses.
Our review of that news release shows researchers have done nothing of the sort. . . .
Holland continues:
In this case we can’t even tell what kind of study was performed. The lead researcher, quoted in the release, states that the “discovery was a serendipitous finding,” which suggests it was an observation rather than a true research finding based on an experimental design.

Another similarity with Maryland: Iowa’s release was linked to the licensing of the institution’s intellectual property to a commercial firm, in this case a pharmaceutical company planning on making an over-the-counter drug to combat cachexia. This raises concerns over conflicts of interest on the part of the researchers that weren’t addressed in the news release....