On verification

Most recently, I came across of another euphoric hygiene hypothesis review and wonder how this could ever happen. The evidence here is mixed and largely ambiguous.
Probably it would be best to follow some basic journalistic rules as summarized in the online “Verification Handbook for investigative reporting”

As with the verification of user-generated content in breaking news situations, some fundamentals of verification apply in an investigative context. Some of those fundamentals, which were detailed in the original Handbook, are:

– Develop human sources.
– Contact people, and talk to them.
! Be skeptical when something looks, sounds or seems too good to be true.
! Consult multiple, credible sources.
– Familiarize yourself with search and research methods, and new tools.
– Communicate and work together with other professionals — verification is a team sport.

Journalist Steve Buttry, who wrote the Verification Fundamentals chapter in the original Handbook, said that verification is a mix of three elements:

– A person’s resourcefulness, persistence, skepticism and skill
– Sources’ knowledge, reliability and honesty, and the number, variety and reliability of sources you can find and persuade to talk
– Documentation

No wonder pill

“In the case of religion, we put our faith in gods. And in nutrition, we have vitamins,” writes journalist Catherine Price in Vitamania, in which she traces vitamin crazes from the 1920s to the present.

Harvard Magazine reports about a new cancer vitamin D study. It includes more than 1,000 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer but going into the details it is a phase 3 clinical trial of chemotherapy and NOT a clinical trial of vitamin D. Vitamin D serum levels are used for posthoc stratification only although we know that these kind of studies are always misleading.  At least HM quotes VITAL research Manson with

Clinical enthusiasm for supplemental vitamin D has outpaced available evidence on its effectiveness

I wish the VDAART chairs at  Brigham and Women’s Hospital would have a similar realistic assessment. Their results are overdue with June 2014 ending of data collection for the primary outcome. Is it just the simple fact that vitamin D is not a wonder pill?