Say What?

September 8, 2020

Usual disclaimers apply. I am not a researcher but conducting and understanding research was a part of my degree.  I regularly review music therapy research to stay current in my field and believe that a proper understanding of research is vital to all of us.

 

With that out of the way, even the best sources of popular media tend to not be great science reporters.  They often oversimplify or draw the wrong conclusions from research or may even draw from inaccurate sources.  I recently came across two youtube videos that help analyze current pandemic research. 

 

Watch the first video about neck gaiters here

This is a popular channel.  The presenter Hank Green gives no particular credentials but is known for making things easy to understand.  The pertinent clip is about the first 3:30 minutes of the video.  He does include a link to the study.  Some important points that he brings up are the original purpose of the study, the sample size, the methodology and equipment, and the research variables.  Most importantly, he points out that this is a preliminary study, one that is meant to lead to further study with more subjects, better equipment, and more consistent methods.  It wasn’t meant to be, and shouldn’t be, the last word in face mask safety. 

 

Watch the second video about cardiac symptoms here

I’ll admit that I was hesitant to watch this video with its click-baity title.  There has been a lot of bad information shared through social media.  However, this youtuber is a cardiologist with a background in research.  Part of his online persona is his snarky sense of humor.  He provides links to the study he references as well as researcher corrections and an editorial.  The study is open access but the editorial requires a log in.  I mention this because I like to be able to draw my own conclusions and to be able to verify the information being talked about.  He mentions the research sample as well as comparison data, that is how this data compares to occurrences in the typical population.  He also talks about statistical significance.  Just because a number is higher or lower doesn’t mean it’s significant.  While he doesn’t talk about it, methods of analyzing data are worth mentioning.  It’s been a long time since I took college stats but different types of data should be analyzed in different ways.  Using the wrong type of analysis can invalidate a study and its conclusions. 

Hope this help you understand some of the information being shared a little better!

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