|Pictured: The fantasy of an asshole.|
The internet has had a relatively extreme reaction to "bro-science" and "muscle mags" - training information that is "cutting the ends of the ham" or "get people to buy things" in terms of its level of quality. In rebellion, those who consider themselves intelligent have created the new cult of "evidence based training". In theory, training advice based on evidence is an excellent thing that I support wholeheartedly. This is not an "anti-science" rant. It is an anti-layperson and anti-punching-above-your-weight rant. It is important to keep trainees apprised of bad sources of information - those who don't know anything and are misguided, or predators who outright lie in order to make sales. It is important to acquire and share good information that has been tried and tested and has some evidence of being effective.
But the difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference, and again the problem is the intellectual laziness of human beings. "Evidence Based" is a term that should cover a broad spectrum of information sources, but much of the time it's simply used as a fluff term for arguments like:
- Citation needed - aka, link to PubMed or you're wrong and fuck you
- I'll just leave this here - aka, here's a link to PubMed so I'm right and fuck you
- <50 PubMed links> - aka, I just scored 50 points in this argument, how many links you got?
A modest proposal - PubMed should be DNS black-holed outside of educational institutions or should at least be kept behind a requirement to show that your brains aren't made entirely of crayons and Elmer's glue.
I feel that the following statements are broadly true, with non-zero but minimal exceptions.
- Are not reasonably well educated in a field
- Have not been exposed to or engaged directly in the actual process of scientific research
- Have not read the full text of the study
- Cannot explain what the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the study are
- Cannot explain what the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of research in this field are
- Have not read a significant amount of similar research
- Be on PubMed (or any similar other site) at all
- Be linking anyone to PubMed (or any other similar site) at all
- Be talking about scientific studies without massive caveat of being a total layman
- Be using any study as a trump card in any argument
- Probably lack the knowledge and experience necessary to properly parse and evaluate what you're reading
- Probably aren't capable of forming a useful opinion based on scientific study
- Probably aren't actually interested in science as a concept or in furthering it as a method in the search for better information
And your goal is not to be "evidence based" if:
- You treat studies like Pokemon cards that you can mic drop on people who argue with you
- You ignore that scientific study is imperfect and cannot answer all questions or test all possibilities
- You treat studies as the only possible source of truth and ignore empirical evidence
- You ignore that some things are simply going to be unknowable, especially in advance
In summary: There's a reason scientific research and analysis thereof is done by those with high level education and not you or me.