What? That Can’t Be Right!

that_cant_be_rightHave you ever tried to research something on the internet (commonly known as “Googling”) and said “What? That can’t be right!” ? Well, I know that’s happened to me, and I’m usually right–it wasn’t right.

In my former career as a Personal Fitness Trainer, I was often called upon for information on the latest gadget, supplement or product. I would typically look it up on the internet or in my trade journals. What I found was that the latest, hottest thing was claiming bigger than life results with absolutely no regard to even the most elementary scientific studies.

Think back to your grade school days. In about fourth grade you probably did your first science experiment. Once you had your topic, generally a question you were going to answer, and hypothesis, generally what you expect the answer is to your question, then you do experiments to see if you are correct.

In your experiments you need to try different things: variables (Is this coming back to you at all yet?); have a control: what happens if you just leave it alone; and collect and analyze the data. Then you repeat the process at least two more times to make sure you are getting consistent results.

In my research of the newest fitness topic, I soon realized that companies were not following even fourth grade protocol. Many products were touted as the greatest simply based on one small study. The scientific community is supposed to share ideas, so “more research” can be done to prove it works (or not). So when a company won’t share their data or study information, that should raise a huge red flag.

My point with all of this is to help you get valid information off the web. Here are some tips:

Find a website that is reliable.

A .org website is meaningless. You do not need to submit documentation to get a .org web domain, so don’t use that to determine if the information on the site is valid. A .gov or .edu website is not issued unless there is substantiating documentation. Those are more reliable websites. Just because you saw it somewhere on the internet does not make it true.

Find a second and third source for the information.

This can be tricky. Sites will mention the same studies, which is not a bad thing, just be aware that you may be seeing the exact same information on more than one site. That does not satisfy the condition that the experiment/study needs to be repeated with the same results.

If you see the statement “more research needs to be done,” believe it. That usually means the study was small or the controls weren’t tight enough. It will usually say why.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

That is such a great mantra. If you’ve struggled with weight loss and you hear about a revolutionary new product with all kinds of claims that don’t include the known factors of diet and exercise…you get the idea.

This past week, 7 days to be exact, I’ve been housebound with a for-real stomach virus. The 10-14 day kind. So I’ve spent a TON of time on the internet (I also read two nice big books), which is probably why I chose this topic for this week’s blog post. I even took a Facebook quiz. I found out that I am a Creative Genius. So tell all your friends to hire me to do their creative work. After all, I’m sure it’s right – I saw it on the internet!

Happy smart surfing!