Why is it we believe what we believe even if the facts are shaky or just do not support our beliefs or desires?
I recently debated the accuracy of glucose monitors and CGMS versus lab results with a juvenile-onset diabetic's mother on another message board. It's not new for me to debate her. She does not like to "deprive" her son and by her own admission feeds him "foods" such as Slurpies and merely pushes the button on the insulin pump.
So, she called me on my concern about the fact that glucose monitors are permitted to (and do) have up to a 20% inaccuracy tolerance and CGMS are worse, especially since they are calibrated to the already inaccurate handheld glucose monitors! She said she has tested her son's handheld monitor to the doctor's handheld monitor and then compared those readings to the CGMS. They were within her tolerance level.
However, that does not make them right. She did not say she had compared the lab test to the meter to the CGMS all at the same time.
In the same message thread, posters gave a link to an article about a small study of juvenile diabetics. The study was actually about exercise and blood sugar but a side bit of data was the comparison of One Touch Ultra and Freestyle Flash monitor accuracy 0 claiming almost total accuracy of the two monitors. So, the subsequent readers of the thread were thrilled I was seemingly wrong.
However, I believe they want to trust their monitors and want to believe I am wrong because if nothing else, it makes them feel more comfortable with existing technology and that they are doing the best they can do. Therefore, they apparently did not read the study details - just the headline. Here are some of the details that make the value of the study very limited:
1) The study consisted of a small group of participants (50) over two-24 hour periods.
2) Only two monitors were testing.
3) Though the total sample size was decent (>1,000 tests) all but a few (<40) of the samples were venuous blood not capillary blood (from fingers or ear lobes) as patients would normally use. Therefore, most statisticians would consider this statistically irrelevant - at least when I took Statistics 101!
4) Fact number two means lab technicians conducted the glucose meter tests not subject participants and we all know the many conditions can create inaccurate test results, especially if real world allows the children to do their own testing.
This is typical of the details we read in these studies. They use small sample size, impractical conditions, and normally with a set goal in mind. They manipulate data to suit their needs.
Since this study was done to measure the effect of exercise, I will not conclude they had a goal of proving monitors more inaccurate in mind. In fact, since they used venuous blood 99% of the time, I would say they wanted accurate results of the intended study and knew that there was something inaccurate in using capillary blood!
I believe a mother is a mother and she wants to believe in her heart that her child is OK and that she is doing her best for her child. To that end, she may convince herself that all of the choices, all of the tools, etc. are the best they can be.
I also believe we as humans convince ourselves often and just refuse to truths to ourselves. The topics can be wide, varied, and vast, not just diabetes related. For example - we convince ourselves six pieces of pizza are fine and healthy because we only do it once a week. When in fact, we have weight creep, late digestion blood sugar surges and there was very little healthy about six pieces of pizza. It was hardly lean protein, green vegetables, good quality fiber or heart-healthy. However ... it tasted good and after all, we cannot always eat healthy, right?
However, how many times a day, on how many topics do we convince ourselves we have made the best choice possible? We make incredible numbers of excuses about everything and everything. It is OK. We are human.but can we at least admit it to ourselves, please? For pete's sake, I do it all the time. I claim absolutely no perfection and guess what, even I will not admit my failures to someone else ALL the time.
This is something to think about especially with diabetes. Be honest with yourself. You just cannot hide less than desirable choices on a continual basis especially with diabetes forever. Sooner or later (unless you got the most resilient genes on the planet), poor choices will come back to bite you in the butt.
Doris J. Dickson