Thursday, March 12, 2009

from Irish research to Vancouver newspapers

While pissing off vegans everywhere, here is a good illustration of something like the joke about how there are three types of lies (punchline being - Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics). In this case, we have the grey fuzzy gap between research, and how research gets portrayed in a newspaper.

First - the Vancouver Sun runs a story called Vegan diet tied to birth defects.

So read that, but then definitely read a follow up piece in the same newspaper called Is eating vegan while pregnant as bad as smoking and drinking? What you are particularly going to want to read are the string of comments below this piece, where pissed off vegans tear both stories to shreds.

A) All the hoopla in both stories is about women who are B12 deficient. Vegans are not necessarily B12 deficient... especially mothers who have probably read up on this and are taking their supplements.

B) The data in the study is 20 years old (which is fine) but comes from a test group in Ireland where neural tube defects are already common - i.e. this is already a fairly biased test group.

C) None of the women in the study actually identified as vegetarian or vegan - some happened to have low B12 levels... and no offense... but in Ireland in 1989 they were probably meat eaters, not veggies.

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