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Fighting back against pseudoscience

Applied science shouldn’t mean low rigour

It’s critical as sports and performance scientist we stay true to quality assurance. If we deviate from critiquing the evidence base we’re drawing upon we are in danger of becoming fitness influencers (and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way!). This is a tension that we might feel when we’re trying to innovate or apply principles from science to unique circumstances. Applying science requires breaking away from the rigid controls of research and taking a leap of faith. A regular check-in with our scientific principles provides a healthy reminder that we work from a base of evidence.

Nick Tiller Paper

One paper that I’ve really enjoyed this week is from Nick Tiller et al, “Baseless Claims and Pseudoscience in Health and Wellness: A Call to Action for the Sports, Exercise, and Nutrition‑Science Community

It carefully lays out the issues in pseudoscience / influencer market, specifically;

  • Short‑term, quick‑fix interventions may impede sports performance
  • Unproven but also potentially dangerous products
  • Affects the reputation of exercise science as a discipline

I particularly like this quote;

“the aim of science is not only to pursue discoveries and be amendable to new ideas but also to engage in ongoing error detection and challenge absurdity and falsehood”

Implications for practice

Have a think about what concept or idea you question, either through first principles or because you question whether it works. Identify that concept and dig into the evidence, discuss with colleagues and support each other to make legitimate queries about your work.

Short-term you might not benefit, but your long-term career in sports science will.

More posts like this everyday in the SC Community

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the SC Community, we hold live events, networking, you can watch all of our previous webinars and summit presentations. I post every weekday;

  • Monday – thought for the week
  • Tuesday – poll
  • Wednesday – paper or practice principle
  • Thursday – reflection
  • Friday – connect with the community

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