“I don’t expect people to do their own research,” Barbell Medicine Episode #166- January 2022 Research Review

We’re not all academics. We aren’t all specialists in lifting, or metabolism, or serum Vitamin D levels. And we shouldn’t be expected to be in order to live a fairly well-informed, healthy life.

If the experts expect us all to become experts in order to understand their work, they’re failing in their efforts to communicate to the public. Expecting me to click on all of the links to studies before I draw conclusions about it is like telling me I’m responsible for following the supply chain back to the farmer before I decide to buy a tomato. I rely upon systems to mostly do their job to mostly keep my food safe and nutritious. I rely upon researchers and science communicators to do most of the legwork to help me understand and interpret the latest research.

Well, the gents at Barbell Medicine are the first evidence-based folks I’ve heard openly acknowledge this fact, and I’m grateful for it. Maybe it’s because they’re medical doctors, and do not even consider themselves to be “experts” in all things they discuss. If someone with a medical degree does not feel sufficiently expert in a field they are passionate about, it seems particularly absurd to expect us layfolk to be able to discern the nuances of a study.

There’s a tunnel vision to the response to questions about who to trust or what the take-aways are to a particular study to “read the research” ourselves. The layers of assumptions built into the belief that we can all access the research, make sense of it, and hold it into the larger context of research as a whole, are not only inaccurate, but it also demonstrates researchers’ and academics” inability to identify their own positions of privilege. This is why it is so important that folks in these positions of power and authority not abuse the trust of the public, so that we can count on them to help us access this information.

There’s lots of good information in this podcast, but it was this conversation near the end that really stuck out to me. I’m grateful to Barbell Medicine for being reliable, ethical voices of evidence-based health and fitness, and for understanding their role in helping the rest of us apply the ever-growing research to our lives.


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