1. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    22 Jan '11 14:44
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

    Here is an article about changes in the brain brought about by meditation, increased thickness measured after 8 weeks of meditation training.

    This was the subject of a conversation with a friend, who plays chess here, 2000+, a board certified child psychiatrist. I mentioned this study and my buddy quite cynically, I thought, said the study was BS. He mentioned study's that studied these kind of articles and found that papers written naturally seemed to find the data the researchers were looking for, making the whole project self serving, grant money seekers.

    I thought that a bit disingenuous and a bit of circular reasoning, for one thing, if the dude doing the study of studies came to some conclusion, why wouldn't he be following the same path, self serving grant money seeker....

    Plus, science has advanced quite noticeably in the last 100 years, going from steam powered ships to moon landings and cell phones, personal computers, solid state recording devices, and the like so it would seem to me calling a paper BS just on this self serving concept, I thought cynical.

    So has anyone here actually heard about this study of studies? And if so, why would it be any different than other self serving studies and papers written?
  2. Standard memberpatauro
    Patricia
    Joined
    25 Sep '06
    Moves
    14447
    22 Jan '11 21:33
    Is he speaking of simply peer review?
  3. Subscribercoquette
    Already mated
    Omaha, Nebraska, USA
    Joined
    04 Jul '06
    Moves
    887630
    22 Jan '11 22:16
    There are countless studies of studies. in fact, there are indoubtably studies of studies of studies
  4. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    23 Jan '11 19:511 edit
    Originally posted by coquette
    There are countless studies of studies. in fact, there are indoubtably studies of studies of studies
    I just wondered if anyone knew of one that suggested the researcher got the result he/she was looking for, I guess vs the surprise finding. Did you read what I wrote? Did you think he was being a bit cynical?

    I guess he was talking about a hypothesis given at the beginning of the study, then finding results that support that hypothesis rather than a puzzle at the start, looking for surprises.
  5. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    24 Jan '11 05:30
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I guess he was talking about a hypothesis given at the beginning of the study, then finding results that support that hypothesis rather than a puzzle at the start, looking for surprises.
    I think that is the key to the issue. It is likely that a lot of studies actually seek to prove that their hypothesis, that they strongly suspect to be correct, is, in fact, correct. As a result, most of these studies will find the answer they were looking for - and correctly so.

    My own criticism of scientific studies is that the researchers frequently speculate about the meaning of the results - and it is often not clear that they are merely speculating at that point - though this is often the fault of reporters who find speculation more newsworthy than good science.

    Your mention of steam powered ships, moon landings and cell phones, it seems to me has as much to do with engineering as science (not quite the same thing).
  6. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    24 Jan '11 18:321 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think that is the key to the issue. It is likely that a lot of studies actually seek to prove that their hypothesis, that they strongly suspect to be correct, is, in fact, correct. As a result, most of these studies will find the answer they were looking for - and correctly so.

    My own criticism of scientific studies is that the researchers frequently ...[text shortened]... phones, it seems to me has as much to do with engineering as science (not quite the same thing).
    I agree about the results and media, but about the steam ships and such, many fundamental discoveries had to be made first like the concept of the semiconductor Vs the electron tube, these things had to be worked out before ANY of the advanced technologies enabled by engineers could work.

    Just think how far computers could have come if we hadn't worked out the fundamental issues of semiconductors, doping, for instance. When semi's were new, doping was done by sticking the silicon wafers in an oven and feeding it the dopant gas, usually either phosphorous, arsenic, or boron, to allow electron flow because pure silicon is a very good insulator.

    Later it was theorized you could use an accelerator, which previously had been used in particle physics but it was realized a beam of ionized arsenic, for instance, could make a very uniform dopant on the silicon wafer, which had to be achieved in order to make billions of parts that had the same characteristics. The old way of using an oven left many different conduction characteristics across the wafer, thus making it impossible to make identical chips.

    But someone had to make the fundamental connection to a much more powerful technique, and that someone was not an engineer. I may sound like I know what I am talking about in this instance because I do. I was for 20 years an ion implant field service engineer, in just about every cleanroom in the US and in Israel. In this particular technology, pure science had to come up with the solution to the non-uniform doping of the silicon wafer.

    That one discovery enabled all the goodies we have today, GPS small as a watch, cell phones, computers, etc., none of that would have happened without the fundamental sea change of the ion implanter. After the discovery of using ion beams was made, THEN it was engineering that took over and refined and re-refined the techniques and all the subsequent developments of the semiconductor world.

    The funny part is, now that individual transistors are down to 25 or less nanometers and you are now starting to count the individual atoms that make up the device, a few thousand only now, and maybe only a few hundred in the near future, that size regime has pretty much eliminated the need for much ion implantation.

    Because the depth of implant has now gotten so low other dopant techniques have been worked out that does not require much in the way of ion acceleration, the old implanters being way too powerful for todays incredibly small features.

    We are talking now of implants needing only 200 volts of acceleration where before, 20 or so years ago, we talked about 200,000 volts of accel or even more, 500KEV or even 1 or 2 MEG EV. All that is pretty much out the window with the latest generation of parts.

    Which is not to say ion implantation is not used any more, far from it. Older chips are still made by the millions and they still rely on hundreds of KEV to bury the ions deep under the surface of the silicon wafer and high voltage transistors and silicon control rectifiers cannot EVER be made as small as todays computer chips and thus there is still a niche area for those multi KEV implants and even megavolt implants. But not for the latest transistors making up our newest generation of computer chips and such.

    The higher the KEV of implant, the deeper the ions are buried underneath and there are still processes that require that deep level of implant but not for the very smallest parts which are also the very shallowest depth, when they shrink in one dimension they shrink pretty much in all dimensions including depth which by definition requires smaller and smaller voltages to get an ion to a specific depth. Anyway, all that engineering had to be preceded by a lot of fundamental research to get as far as we have.
  7. Standard memberjoneschr
    Some guy
    Joined
    22 Jan '07
    Moves
    12299
    24 Jan '11 19:011 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think that is the key to the issue. It is likely that a lot of studies actually seek to prove that their hypothesis, that they strongly suspect to be correct, is, in fact, correct. As a result, most of these studies will find the answer they were looking for - and correctly so.
    There's (mostly) nothing wrong with this.

    The days where the scientific process are completed by a single individual, or even a single team are long gone. Discoveries that remain just aren't that easy. Part of the scientific process is peer review, not just by team members, but by the community. A single study should never be taken as invention - other studies need to confirm and expand on each.

    For that reason, I think at least half of the "inventions" and studies we read about are really released way too soon for public consumption.

    I personally think there's nothing wrong with this. What's wrong is that the press doesn't communicate this to people when they tout new studies -- as you pointed out.

    In this particular case there's a good chance there is something wrong with the study's method. But I would never jump to saying the researches are self-serving grant seekers. They're just doing their job -- and if nobody is challenging their research and following it up with more studies -- then that is indeed problematic.
  8. Joined
    01 Jun '06
    Moves
    274
    25 Jan '11 12:56
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

    Here is an article about changes in the brain brought about by meditation, increased thickness measured after 8 weeks of meditation training.

    This was the subject of a conversation with a friend, who plays chess here, 2000+, a board certified child psychiatrist. I mentioned this study and ...[text shortened]... ? And if so, why would it be any different than other self serving studies and papers written?
    Well, the study had a control group, but that control group did not attend the course so we don't know whether the meditation or merely attending the course was the cause. It doesn't look like it was a blinded study, let alone double blinded (I don't know how you could blind this but I'm sure some clever person could figure out a way).

    Also, the study and control groups were not very large, meaning that you cannot place high confidence in the results.

    I don't know what you mean by 'naturally written'. Does that mean that the actual data was not presented? In which case I would be highly sceptical.

    The researchers conclusions should be clearly separated from the description of the methodology and the data obtained.

    For a one off study, it may be interesting but should not be taken as confirming anything at all. If there are many of these studies, there is a kind of study called a Cochrane Review that collects them together, assess their methodology and generally comes to a more accurate conclusion than the individual studies.

    Note that my only expertise is through reading popular science books such as Bad Science and Trick or Treatment.

    --- Penguin.
  9. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    78625
    10 Feb '11 14:53
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

    Here is an article about changes in the brain brought about by meditation, increased thickness measured after 8 weeks of meditation training.

    This was the subject of a conversation with a friend, who plays chess here, 2000+, a board certified child psychiatrist. I mentioned this study and ...[text shortened]... ? And if so, why would it be any different than other self serving studies and papers written?
    There are a number of problems with that study. First of all the sample is tiny (16). They don't have a proper control group, they do a MRI scan before and after a course of meditation for all the participants, so they haven't proved causation. But the big problem is that grey matter density is a surrogate marker for the benefits listed (feeling of well-being, low stress etc.) it is not a benefit in itself, and could conceivably be a harm due to the effect on brain circulation. They produced an advert for meditation in combination with a call for funding. I'd regard it as low quality evidence. Your friend is right.

    A systematic review, which does what is called meta-analysis of data from multiple studies can improve the quality of evidence and expose contradictory evidence from multiple trials. Clearly some are better than others, Cochrane Reviews are always a high standard and regularly updated, but other S.R.s can be waffley rubbish.
  10. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    12 Feb '11 16:562 edits
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    There are a number of problems with that study. First of all the sample is tiny (16). They don't have a proper control group, they do a MRI scan before and after a course of meditation for all the participants, so they haven't proved causation. But the big problem is that grey matter density is a surrogate marker for the benefits listed (feeling of we ews are always a high standard and regularly updated, but other S.R.s can be waffley rubbish.
    Thanks, I see your point. I am seeing Leboeuf today, will tell him the results of my little poll. Meta-analysis and Conchran review seems to be the key to reliability in science.
  11. Joined
    29 Dec '08
    Moves
    6788
    18 Feb '11 18:30
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

    Here is an article about changes in the brain brought about by meditation, increased thickness measured after 8 weeks of meditation training.

    This was the subject of a conversation with a friend, who plays chess here, 2000+, a board certified child psychiatrist. I mentioned this study and ...[text shortened]... ? And if so, why would it be any different than other self serving studies and papers written?
    http://www.mombu.com/medicine/cancer/t-investigator-bias-and-false-positive-findings-in-medical-research-macular-degeneration-depression-sinusitis-dust-mite-asthmatic-831334.html

    Or google "investigator bias".
  12. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    19 Feb '11 15:48
    Originally posted by JS357
    http://www.mombu.com/medicine/cancer/t-investigator-bias-and-false-positive-findings-in-medical-research-macular-degeneration-depression-sinusitis-dust-mite-asthmatic-831334.html

    Or google "investigator bias".
    Interesting piece. Wonder why the 45 kinds of bias did not mention 'investigator bias'?
  13. silicon valley
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    101289
    22 Feb '11 07:34
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

    Here is an article about changes in the brain brought about by meditation, increased thickness measured after 8 weeks of meditation training.

    This was the subject of a conversation with a friend, who plays chess here, 2000+, a board certified child psychiatrist. I mentioned this study and ...[text shortened]... ? And if so, why would it be any different than other self serving studies and papers written?
    how many of your examples were primarily the products of applied engineering and not "pure" scientific research?
Back to Top