The controversy that has plagued Cornell nutrition researcher Brian Wansink for nearly two years culminated with his resignation from Cornell, the school announced Sept. 20. Wansink, a charismatic and incredibly prolific academic who frequently courted the media, made the announcement the day after JAMA retracted six of his studies that it had warned in April were under review. Continue reading
Things were looking dicey then as more and more red flags, including mathematically impossible mistakes, piled up in his past studies. That parade only seems to be picking up based on recent news reports and retractions. It’s worth continuing to follow this story because it contains so many cautions for journalists covering medical research, especially fun and fascinating research that “feels” true from a charismatic, interview-friendly researcher. Continue reading
Some of the most difficult research to make sense of comes from nutrition science. It is difficult, expensive and labor-intensive to conduct randomized controlled trials in nutrition, in part because they require randomizing what people eat and then ensuring they eat what they’re supposed to – no more and no less.
Even when such trials are finished (often at in-patient labs), the populations are usually small and somewhat homogenous, thus reducing the generalizability and overall clinical utility of results. Continue reading