At 10:38 PM 9/25/98 -0700, Spike Lee wrote:
>controlled laboratory research has its shortcomings, which is
>why we still have recalls on new cars. also, i cannot access
>the information discovered by ford from their research track.
>but i can see potential problems by going to a ford owners
IAN: True enough, and there's no guarantee that controlled laboratory research is immune from disinformation, i.e., results that were rigged, although duplication of the research should weed that out, so long as it's independent.
Also, gathering information from a wider population has its advantages too. In-line with what your talking about, I did a little research on the web on a drug that a family member was taking... the search yielded a bunch of posts and replies on some mailing-list archives where people cited side effects they were having. Sure enough, when I got to the scientific literature on the drug, they were all there. And the official lists of side effects are in fact simply gathered from relatively small groups of people who simply report what they experience, and thus is basically anecdotal.
Where laboratory research is critical is in understanding the exact physiological mechanics of a drug's interaction with the body, and in that way we get a picture as to why it does what it does, and that really explains what's happening. For example, if we know that chemical x is an antioxidant, even before it's taken internally, we can be pretty sure of a given set of effects that it will have on users.