Why do people make this stuff up for?

Time to call out another loon. This time its an article in the Inquisitr, How David Accidentally Slayed Goliath: Vibram FiveFingers And Why Barefoot Is Best. I will ignore that it failed totally to show that barefoot is better and even worse, totally ignored all 10 of the systematic reviews of the science that its not. What got me was this paragraph:

Another study from the National Center for Biotechnology found that, from a group of people suffering from plantar fasciitis – an inflammatory condition affecting the base of the foot – those who rehabilitated themselves with a minimalist running shoe had an overall reduced level of pain.

There was no such study and the author just made that up and needs to be called on it:

  • They provided no citation or reference for the study
  • I can not even find a place called “National Center for Biotechnology”

At a stretch they may be referring to a study from the University of British Columbia (not the National Center for Biotechnology) that showed the exact opposite of that. The study found no differences between the minimalist and the shod group in their plantar fasciitis symptoms, but there were drop outs in the minimalist group as their pain became so bad; so the study actually showed that minimalism was not a good option. I commented more on that study here.

So either the author just made that up or totally misrepresented the results of a study. Why do they do that for? I previously called out two barefoot running websites for telling a lie and have asked many times why they did that. No one has got back to me with an explanation.

The rest of the article is full of logical fallacies and a lack of critical thinking. I would have expected better from someone who claims to be a “journalist”.

Look at this paragraph:

According to a survey published in July 2012 by the U.S. National Institute Of Health approximately 74 percent of runners experienced a moderate or severe injury each year, but those who habitually rearfoot strike had approximately twice the rate of repetitive stress injuries compared to individuals who habitually forefoot strike

Where do you start deconstructing that?:

  • The US National Institute of Health did no such study and published no such survey!
  • There was one study that did show as many as 76% (not 74%) did get an injury each yr, but they were not ‘moderate or severe injury’; most were relatively minor!
  • It ignores that the overwhelming majority of prevalence studies put the figure of injury’s at around 30-40%. What is the purpose of cherry picking the one study that showed the worst number?
  • As for the injury rate being twice in heel strikers: They are either referring to this one which no one (except the fan boys) are talking seriously as it was a self selected web based cohort or the Daoud et al (2012) study of 52 almost elite level track runners (that are not close to being representative of typical runners) which found the injury rate in the heel strike group was almost double the forefoot striking group. Classic example of cherry picking and ignoring the studies that showed the opposite.

Why do people just make this stuff up for?

As for the title of the article, “How David Accidentally Slayed Goliath”. David did not slay Goliath. Nike are still going strong. Vibram got busted for making claims of having “ample scientific evidence”, when they didn’t and all 10 systematic reviews of the evidence confirm that they still don’t. The relatively new Hoka One One super max cushioned running shoe is now probably out selling the entire minimalist category of running shoes. Runners have voted with their feet.

Yes, barefoot/minimalism has changed the landscape, but this was very sloppy journalism.

I love this quote from Damien Thompson’s book, Counterknowledge:

we are experiencing a pandemic of counterknowledge: misinformation packaged to look like fact, but that is demonstrably false

As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise…and this is a perfect example as to why we need to stick to the preponderance of evidence and not be mislead by journalists who need to be held accountable for making stuff up.


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One Response to Why do people make this stuff up for?

  1. Monica November 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    This is the greatest website! I’m a research junkie in my field (counseling psychology), but don’t really have the time to sort through literature in the running world.

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