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Why I Continue to Blog



sharma-obesity-right-way-wrong-wayThis is a question I ask myself at the beginning of every year.

After all, over the past six years, I have written 2000 blog posts. If each post took me just 20 mins to write – this would amount to 40,000 minutes or 666 hours, which translates to almost 4 months of writing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week!

Could I have found a better use for this time?

I don’t think so.

Although the blog started back in 2007 simply as a means to inform my staff and colleagues about my thoughts on obesity, my readership has grown to 1000s of daily readers around the globe.

There is indeed no shortage of new stuff to write about – there are over 100 scientific articles on obesity published every week – not all excellent – but by no means all rubbish either.

As regular readers are well aware, I often pick a single study here and there to illustrate a point or principle that I think is relevant to the obesity discourse.

Some may call this unscientific.

Indeed, I am well aware, that a single study – no matter how large or how well done – will never be enough to conclusively prove a point (at least not in the biological sciences).

This is why a whole field of medical researcher deals with compiling and analyzing data from across studies – the field of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. But such analyses – though better than relying on individual studies – is also fraught with methodological problems (as some of my colleagues put it, “It takes just one rotten fish to ruin a buillabaise” or (more rudely) “A compilation of horse shit, is still horse shit”.)

While I understand and appreciate the importance of designing and conducting good studies, the actual data emerging from such studies is perhaps far less important that most people (even scientists) think.

To me it is not the data or findings themselves that constitute the “advance”. Rather, I see scientific advance as that which ultimately emerges from the discourse that is prompted by any observation or piece of data.

Thus, it is not so much a question of whether or not a particular finding is “true” or not. Even a flawed study with irreproducible results can prompt us to ask new questions and move science into a direction that may ultimately lead to important advances (the history of science is full of instances where mistakes and sloppiness resulted in important scientific breakthroughs).

Far more important to scientific advance is the question – why was this study done (what were the researchers thinking?) and (if true) what could these results mean?

Any observation (true or false) is only the start of the scientific discourse – the thought process that ultimately leads to new ideas, new ways of thinking and greater understanding and advances.

To me science is not truth – it is the quest for truth. Indeed, the road itself is the destination.

This is why I plan to continue posting – picking studies and ideas here and there and playing with them to see where this process takes me.

In this spirit, I wish all my readers a Happy 2014 – I invite you to continue with me on this journey – who knows what new ideas and insights we will discover along the way.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

13 Comments

  1. Delighted you will continue. As a layman you are THE voice of reason and when I see a study I always hope you will comment. Reading you has educated me on the subject. Thanks

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  2. I tried to rate ten but messed up. Sorry

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  3. Well said! Thank you for all you do in this complex, difficult field! Have a great year! In fact, may it be your best year ever in every good way possible!

    I am not a positivist. Even so, I value the scientific method as a vital ingredient in the discourse about what is true, and agree with you that it is the conversation we have globally and emergent challenges to the narratives we tell ourselves that matter most. May the exploration for what is true never cease, and may we always take our observations seriously, especially ones about which we cannot make sense right now!

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  4. I would further state that the process of scientific discovery and indeed the resultant discourse has a corollary in patients engaging in self discovery in regards to emotional eating, their relationships and perceptions of self. Greatest sucess as realized by treating physicians when protocols and self knowledge are applied to the illness.

    I always enjoy your blog Dr. Sharma and helps me keep focussed on the important aspects of my personal journeys!

    Cheers!

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  5. Thank you for the last year of enrichment, being able to ‘nourish’ me with information has kept me from feeling blinkered ,misunderstood and ‘lazy’ as that was the general consensus.
    I would love to glean more on ADHD and absorbing of medications after sleeve surgery. My pharmacist is incredibly interested in this area so if you have any irons in that fire I would love to read about it ( usually I would have said ‘fingers in that pie’ but…. well who needs pies !
    Thanks

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  6. My husband has high blood pressure and is pre-diabetic. He’s participating in an NIH clinical trial looking at effects of mifepristone on metabolic syndrome.
    http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01419535

    I was surprised to learn it’s what’s in the morning-after pill, controversial in the US.

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  7. Glad you will continue blogging. I find your postings to represent a level head among the highly emotional players in the field of obesity. Agree or disagree, you lead always lead me to an understanding I did not previously have.

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  8. Great post! Thanks for everything that you do. Happy 2014!

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  9. Thanks i have been folowing you during 3 years from andalucia spain, and I feel very proud of us and in the way that all us walking with you.
    thamk u very much
    Bless you

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  10. Just to add to the comments above, your blogs are always interesting and thought provoking – long may they continue. Happy New Year!

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  11. @Dr. Sharma . Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your experience and criticism. Maybe you don’t realise the impact of your blog “Obesity Notes” at “long distance”. For me it’s “education” (I’ve been reading studies and comments I would never have read otherwise) , “inspiring” (CME organisation for my collegues, making care pathways based on the 5 A ‘s, creating multidisciplinary teams, …) and “networking” (I have learned about experts I didn’t know before). I frequently ask how you can manage it to create a daily refreshing new note (I suggest you’ve got a team at your backoffice to help with this job ? and an understanding partner 🙂 …) and I sincerely hope you get a reward for all this interesting work.
    From Belgium, Western Europe.

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  12. I appreciate you continuing your blog activity. It provides a uniquely scientific source of information that elsewhere is heavy on the snake oil. Also, being from the States, it is “interesting” to see some of the comments regarding the Canadian Health Care system and their approach to medical management of obesity. You must have extremely polite citizens; in the US, people would not willingly wait for years for surgery or other therapy.

    You are sometimes discouraging to someone like me, but it also makes me feel a little bulletproof. I am an apparent anomaly, having lost 80 pounds or approximately 1/3 of my body weight and I have maintained my loss for more than six months. I have a very active on-line community as well as regular in-person meetings on a weekly basis that helps me in this on-
    going effort. My goal now is one year of maintenance and being able to register with the National Weight Loss Registry. It isn’t easy but it also isn’t impossible…

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