Crash course: Checking claims

Crash course: Checking claims


Hello, welcome at this new vlog of Belicons. Nice that you are watching. This week my blog and vlog are about our trust
in science. In my blog of this week I wrote that scientists
are human beings too and that it can happen that they say something and that later on
it turns out on not to be true. Usually such mistakes are not intentionally
and, of course, then it is okay. But this can make us feel uncomfortable, since
at one moment we hear once claim and at the moment we hear another claim. We just want to know what is really true. At the end of my blog I mentioned briefly
that we can find out what news we can trust by reading on Google about what various people
are saying about it. But I can imagine that this remark is a little
bit too brief to order to be able to really try it yourself. Therefore, I would like to give you a crash
course ‘checking claims’ now in order to give you some pointers to find out for
yourself how plausible a certain claim is that you hear in the media. I think that the scientific studies that we
talk about the most and hear about the most are studies about food. What is healthy and what isn’t. And why is it healthy ? Or why isn’t it healthy? In my vlog of 2 weeks ago I already talked
about the question: “What is healthy?” Then I was talking about that we shouldn’t
see food as a collection of nutrients, but as a whole. So a piece of bread is more than just a collection
of fibers, carbohydrates and vitamins. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot learn
anything from what scientists find out about food. Vitamin C for example is, among other things,
good for our immune system. That is what we know from science. But that doesn’t mean that when there is
a flu going around that we should all take vitamin C pills, but that we should try make
sure that we eat enough food that contains vitamin C. So we have to go to the real food,
like kiwi, strawberries, oranges, broccoli. And more things like that. So scientists can teach us a lot about food,
but sometimes we hear so many claims that contradict one and another that it is really
hard to find out what we can really believe. And for that reason this I will give you crash
course. An example I like to use is the coconut. Some people regard a coconut as a super food.
And others say that it is not healthy at all. So, what can we believe then? You can try to find that out in this
way. Go to Google and type some keywords. In this case: ‘coconut’ ‘healthy’ ‘unhealthy’. Look at your search results. And then you’ll see that many websites are
talking about the oil or fat in coconut. A coconut contains a lot of saturated fat. And this means that this is important in order
to find out whether this is healthy or not. So let us take a look at that first. Type your new keywords: ‘saturated fat’ ‘healthy’ ‘unhealthy’. Look for websites of which it is clear that
they know what they are talking about. For example Wikipedia, websites of Universities
like Harvard.edu and the American Heart Association. And ten take a look at what they are actually
saying. All of them are not really positive about
saturated fats. So even though many other websites say that
these fats aren’t that bad, if you can’t find a website that has some authority on
the subject that is also positive about it. Then I wouldn’t believe the other websites. And this difference of opinion may come from
some studies that have shown some advantages of saturated fats. But if that is the case then scientists should
try to find out why these studies contradict other studies and obviously the websites that
speak with authority haven’t seen enough proof yet that it does have some advantages. And therefore I think that we can safely assume that
the saturated fat in a coconut is not healthy. But that doesn’t mean that a coconut as
a whole is unhealthy too. For a coconut is much more than just the fat
that it contains. So then we go back to the coconut as a whole
and look for websites with authority that tell us something about how healthy this fruit
is or isn’t. You can try various keywords or use the search
engine DuckDuckGo that often gives you different results than Google does. But in this case it doesn’t result into
anything really new. But on the foodnutrition table.com we do see
that a coconut contains many fibers, some vitamins and minerals, like magnesium. So I think that all of this tells us that
a coconut isn’t the healthiest kind of fruit, because of the saturated fats that it contains. But it is a lot healthier than for example
a biscuit or a pie because it contains fibers, vitamins and minerals too and not so much
sugar. And whether these saturated fats are okay
for you depends on all the other things that you eat. In this way you can see again that food as
a whole is better than what is made by the industry. But after this short study I don’t think
that a coconut is the super food some people like to call it. So if there is something of which you would like to know what science really tells us about it, then you can do a small study of your own in this way. And if you like to dig a bit deeper, you can also look at scholar.google.com. Then you will get an idea quite quickly about
what is really known about that subject. But don’t forget that science will never
be finished and thus that new research can lead to new results. But don’t be discouraged because of that,
but just check so now and then what is known about the subjects that are important to you. Just try it and let me know whether it helps
you to deal with all the claims you hear about what scientists have discovered. And if you have some questions or remarks,
then let me know on Belicons or on YouTube. I’m really curious of course. And I will see you next week. Bye!