I've reported about science meetings here in Applied Metabolics and prior to that in magazines. These meetings, which are usually held in exotic locales that double as vacation resorts (the likely real reason for the meetings!) involve researchers who gather to present and discuss some of their latest work. In the meetings that I've attended in the past, the seminars are given by these researchers usually involved going over studies that had been recently published in professional journals. Getting published in such journals is a mark of status among researchers, allowing them to not only get better jobs but also to obtain the grant money needed for other studies. Perhaps this is the reason why science journals pay absolutely nothing for these studies, despite the fact that many of them cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But I suppose those who contribute these studies to the journals feel that the ensuing prestige among their peers is worth the labor. I should also add that subscriptions to these same journals often cost hundreds of dollars per year, and if you want to download just a single study from the journals, the price varies between $35 and $65. No surprise that one of the major science publishers netted over a billion dollars last year.
But back to the science meetings. The researchers talking about studies that have already been published is of questionable value, especially to those of us who regularly peruse the journals, as I do to gather material for Applied Metabolics. The only real benefit of attending one of these science meeting seminars is if you want to directly question the author of a study about something in the study he or she is discussing. The real value of these meetings is what's known as "poster presentations." These are short abstracts of studies that have not yet been published, and as such can offer some new and interesting information. Unfortunately in recent years money to pay for these studies has become increasingly scarce. This has led to a type of academic prostitution, where researchers will publish studies that have been paid for by independent companies. In the sports medicine field, many of these studies relate to nutritional supplements. While someone has to pay for these often expensive science studies, the problem is that these studies nearly always"prove" the efficacy of a product that's being sold by the company that paid for the study. It's clearly a massive conflict of interest. The companies then use the "positive and proven" results of the studies in their advertisements to convince unwary consumers that the product has been tested and "shown to be effective." In reality, the studies involved have shown nothing, since they can be easily manipulated to produce a positive effect that wouldn't have been shown if the study was . . .