Well, I Saw On TV That...

I’ve spent 4 years in college. I’ve begun taking graduate level courses, and will officially be in grad school in the fall. I’ve been personal training for a couple years, and I’ve been working in supplement shops and gyms for even longer. I’ve worked with a Division II university Strength and Conditioning program for a year. I’ve competed and done well in collegiate powerlifting. Most recently I passed my Exercise Physiology Board Certification exam, and am now certified by a college level board. I say this not to brag, but to set the stage for something that makes me rip my hair out – the dreaded “I saw on Tv that…” argument.

When my family has a reunion we all gather together; I mean all of us. Between dozens and a hundred individuals clamor together to catch up. At first, it’s just a bunch of people reconnecting, and older guys telling burnt out jokes – but I do love those jokes.

I grind my teeth and bite my lips the whole time, because I know that it’s coming. People stop talking about surface level details, and eventually bring up more personal topics. My brow sweats and I can feel it approach like a bellowing storm. Someone makes eye contact with me, and utters something along the lines of “On the Today Show,” or “Dr. Oz says to take…”

Whether I agree with that or not it doesn’t matter, because I’m not on Tv. Forget all of the above credentials, a short story on TV trumps me. I don’t even know if they’re asking me for my opinion, or simply telling me something in my field? I know that it's out of love, but the fact that my input is invalid still makes my brain swell. But it’s not just my family; I’ll get emails like this every-now-and-again, or someone will comment on something with this argument.

This post isn’t going to be a story about how media reporters are wrong, rather, how you can determine who is right.

For starters, nearly everyone has access to the internet. If you didn’t, then you couldn’t read this post; that’s called logic 101. Next, find a website that publishes papers online for free (pubmed.com). If you’re associated with a university, like me, you have access to more advanced online libraries for free; you can even ask your university to buy them for you. Now that you have a database you must find the research that is being cited in the study.

If you’re watching, o I don’t know the Today Show, and they begin to talk about a new “controversial study,” your gut should wrench. Google search the topic/title they give and see what you can find.

“But I didn’t find anything?”

Sometimes this happens, but it’s not a lost cause. When the study doesn’t pop up on a research database, it’s because the study isn’t fully published. It’s highly unethical for a researcher to release their findings before they finish publishing their data – but it happens.

It will cause a stir, make TV, and bring in money.

Even if the data is skewed and would be rejected by a journal for exaggerating the evidence, money will still pour in. Pffffft, who cares if it’s accurate; it’s all about money right?

However, it is likely that the study has been reviewed and published. The findings may be so controversial that it climbs its way to day time TV. Before you know it I’m at a family reunion being told that I shouldn’t take fish oil because it might give me prostate cancer – What?

Yep, in 2013 a study was released to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that taking fish oil supplements will increase prostate cancer risks. The researchers took blood samples from both prostate cancer victims and controls (non cancer victims). What they concluded was that cancer victims had greater PUFA-Omega-3 fatty acids. Oh no!

However, what wasn’t mentioned was that it was unknown how these men obtained these Omega-3s. Did they take them? Did they eat a lot of Fish? No-one will ever know. We don’t even know what dose these men were getting their Omega-3s, let alone if they had some blood lipid disorder. For all we know, having prostate cancer can reduce your body’s ability to process Omega-3s, or it causes them to be dumped into the blood stream. What if the study shows correlation not causation? (Correlation is when two things relate: ex. most scientist wear protective glasses. Causation is when something causes something else: ex. wearing protective glasses makes you a scientist. In this example correlation doesn't equal causation.)

Men should probably stop fishing, going to red lobster, owning pet betas, and even avoid swimming in water with fish. You know, just to be safe.

Research doesn’t normally make TV, because real research is meticulous and boring. It’s the controversial stuff that grabs everyone’s attention. It’s when grown men are paid big bucks to take weak research, and recommend biased supplements their millions of viewers – Cough Cough Dr. Oz.

Of course, I might be assuming that the media should have an abundance of morality.

I love my family so much, but when I’m outranked by a 10 minute media blitz I lose an hour off of my lifespan. I have even less couth when I’m challenged with the same logic by a random commenter or emailer. Research should never be trusted because it makes national news. It should always be investigated and challenged; if it holds up then you might have a winner.

Maybe you’re like me and you see the error; share this post.

Or maybe you think highly of Dr. Oz and other day-time TV media moguls? I’m not saying that they’re always wrong, but if it seems too crazy to be true look up the research. Or at least bring a really good side dish to the family reunion – that’s always helped me. 

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.