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Do Studies Still Mean Anything? (Part 1)

I often cite studies, reports and other research when posting my blogs.  One question that has come up is do these studies actually mean anything.   It’s an excellent question.

Because of my innate curiosity, I’m always trying to poke holes in my logic and the research I’ve read over the years.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time around some of the leading thinkers and brightest minds in financial planning as well as reading peer-reviewed articles and research.  Naturally, this has led me to delve deeper into the data.


When I hear all the claims made about this strategy, that fund, this investment approach, or that annuity and all its benefits, I can’t help but to be skeptical of the system.  There’s a lot of marketing and spin.

We know that on the whole the financial services industry is not publishing an abundance of empirically-validated science or even its best science.  So, how much credibility should we give to what the industry actually publishes?

Generally speaking, everyday the airwaves are filled with report after report of falsified studies and claims that the public is no longer surprised to hear that some “scientific” study was proven false.

Sadly, bad science and marketing disguised as science are at the forefront of almost everything that’s being sold to the consumers.

The reason is simple:  Money.

Specifically, studies cost money.  Since corporations have most of that, whenever they study something with a marketing or sales agenda, it’s no longer science.

The results are almost certainly going to have manipulated data.  (Remember the recent Volkswagen scandal?)  Even government studies are often done under pressure from corporate lobbyists.

I hate to say it but where there’s money to be made, we will likely find manipulated or falsified data.  Cynicism abounds.

So the question remains: Are studies worthless?

Of course not.  Science is all about experimentation and testing hypotheses to understand how things work.   Without science or the scientific method, there is a very high probability that you and I would not enjoy the cushy lives that most of us live today.  Can you imagine the world without your smartphone, an abundance of food, antibiotics or indoor plumbing?

My chief complaint with most of these corporate funded studies is that we as consumers and investors are not privy to most of them.   Instead, we are presented with the results that have the greatest chance of creating sales—courtesy of the PR spin behind them.

Sometimes there is some really good work happening behind the scenes.   But to see what’s really going on, you have to dig through the actual study to determine if the data presented to the public is accurate or just a bunch of spin.

That means that many of the so-called “scientific” studies that we read and hear about in the media are nothing but hype and best left ignored.

So, should we believe the science?
 

Watch for Part 2.

Do Studies Still Mean Anything? (Part 2)
It’s Gonna Cost You One Way or Another
 

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