Is Sport A Breeding Ground for Pseudoscience?

Posted 1 Dec 2022

Exercise physiologist Nick Tiller, MRes, PhD, argues that pseudoscience is a systemic problem in sports. He offers examples of prominent athletes promoting pseudoscientific health and performance claims. [Tiller N. Is sport a breeding ground for pseudoscience? Skeptical Inquirer, Nov 10, 2022]

He concludes:

Pseudoscience preys on hopes and fears—two sides of the same coin—and it also feeds on desperation. Because of the “win at all costs” mentality nurtured in high-performance sports, athletes exhibit plenty of all three traits. And such characteristics likely become intensified closer to elite level. Even though many athletes prefer evidence-based approaches, it only takes a minority of individuals, especially those who are famous or revered, to allow for the spread of misinformation and erroneous advice. Moreover, there’s little doubt that the culture of high-performance sport may be allowing pseudoscience to breed unabated, generally unchallenged by athletes, coaches, and scientific support staff, all on the justification of important placebo effects. But widespread acceptance of placebos in sport gives no mind as to how these products affect the masses when they bleed into mainstream practice. Indeed, we now have decisive answers to the question of “What’s the harm?

Source: Consumer Health Digest #22-45, November 27, 2022

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