• Kristyn Emmer

What Do We Really Mean When We Say “Science-Based?”

I, along with many of you, have been following numerous important conversations lately -- coronavirus, vaccines, plant-based diets -- and the phase I’ve been hearing over and over again is “science-based.” 

Evidenced by science. 

Real science. 

So let’s talk about all of these scientific studies found in journals and online databases that inform government officials and recommendations and actions and funding. 

A study published in 2017 found in JAMA reported that industry-sponsored studies (particularly those related to food) are 30% more likely to report an outcome in favor of their sponsors, compared to those funded by independent research. 

This has been found to be on par with the pharmaceutical industry. 

In addition to that, a report entitled Nutrition Scientists on the Take from Big Food found that in 206 nutrition studies, not a single one showed a negative outcome from industry sponsored research and that studies funded by let’s say, the dairy industry or the sugar industry, were 8 times more likely than independent studies to show a positive outcome for their product. 

So what does this tell us about science? 

It says that if we are going to believe an agency’s take on a particular topic, look at the studies they are using to make their claims. Once you have the study, analysis, or review, look at the notes in the back and see for yourself who sponsored it. And if it’s funded by the industry it aims to benefit or the organisation involved is sponsored by industry, know that this “science” may not be as reliable as you think.

Just as our immune systems have gaps and vulnerabilities, science isn’t immune to greed, ego, and coalitions. 

This is also on par with what we see in history. History tells us that our science has changed and will change the way we move throughout the world. It wasn’t so long ago that pregnant women (or really anyone for that matter) was encouraged to smoke. It wasn’t that long ago that we painted our walls with lead-based paint. It’s not in our too-distant memory that DDT was sprayed on all of our crops, deemed safe for human consumption. 

Why? Well, because for most of these situations, money, greed, and personal agendas were prioritized over the health of humans from the very organizations we trust still today.

The thing about “following the science” is that science isn’t without bias. It isn’t without delay. It isn’t without the ability to change. 

Because of that, we are now in a time in the world of science where we have an opportunity to change. Do we stay with the antiquated model of threat, compulsively feeling the need to medicate and vaccinate against everything? 

Or do we pivot to what the “science” has been telling us for the last 30 years, which is that the microbiome determines our experience on earth. The new science is that biology is the answer, not chemistry. The newest, updated science tells us to work in harmony with nature, not against her, for the healthiest world (and therefore the healthiest humans) possible. 

We have a choice. Either we rely on a cure out there to save us all or we realize that we have the greatest healer already within us. 

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