Challenging beliefs: Science under a microscope

Challenging beliefs: Science under a microscope
Challenging beliefs: Science under a microscope

Science plays an increasingly significant role in shaping policies, public opinion, and eating habits – but what if beliefs generally accepted to be true are wrong? At a panel discussion celebrating its 10th anniversary, non-profit organisation The Noakes Foundation declared its commitment to support and fund unconventional research that challenges the scientific status quo. In taking on this new direction, the Foundation is encouraging the general public to question the influence that established scientific beliefs have on their decisions around diet and healthcare.

The panel discussion featured Professor Tim Noakes, US-based New York Times bestselling investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, and Chief Operating Officer at the Noakes Foundation Jayne Bullen, and was facilitated by dietitian Tamzyn Murphy. The conversation focused on the need to revisit established scientific dogma related to public health, and how individuals can equip themselves to identify fact versus fiction.

“The first thing that we need to challenge is the belief that science is an objective body of knowledge. By definition, science cannot provide certainties – it is an ongoing method of answering existing questions and asking new ones,” says Professor Noakes, who has been at the forefront of advocating for an evidence-based approach to health and nutrition for over a decade.

Historically, the Foundation has focused on addressing myths that drive diet-related diseases, like diabetes and obesity; “Our new direction is broader than nutrition. Following the philosophy of Prof Noakes, we are pushing for free thinking across all areas of science. We’ve already begun to unpack metabolic approaches to cancer treatment and the management of psychiatric illnesses, both of which are considered scientifically edgy,” says Jayne Bullen, Chief Operating Officer at The Noakes Foundation.

Academic free speech is another key aspect of the Foundation’s new direction; “We are fighting for a future where scientists are encouraged to be innovative, criticise mainstream beliefs, and engage in healthy debate. Stemming from this, we hope to create a future where these pioneers are funded differently – based on the merits of their work, not the bottom line of industry bodies or big corporations,” says Bullen.

“We are experiencing a pandemic of chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity, due largely to the proliferation of health misinformation and conflicting dietary recommendations. To break the status quo, both health professionals and the public must interrogate conventional wisdom which, in many cases, has been influenced by funder interests or industry pressure,” says Noakes.

Through initiatives like Nutrition Network, an online, accredited education, connection, and learning platform that has trained over 7 000 healthcare practitioners worldwide, The Noakes Foundation is working to empower individuals to make better health decisions, from the ground up; “Doctors are the first place that people go when they have a health issue. By training them to diagnose illness and prescribe treatment based on actual evidence, we can improve the lives of thousands of people,” says Noakes.

Recognising their size, relative to the major corporations and brands that control the flow of information, The Noakes Foundation has committed to changing one mind at a time; “We know we can’t save the world all at once, but we can help people to save themselves, by giving them the tools to look at information critically and make informed decisions,” says Noakes.

To find out more about how the Noakes Foundation is challenging the accepted science and supporting research that empowers individuals to make the best dietary choices available to them, visit