The Goldman Dilemma

Sep 29, 2012
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Bob Goldman did some "research" back in the day. It's interesting reading the reason behind his research, given the recent discussion.

The story has been told and retold, so many times and in
so many versions that it has acquired the aura of an urban
legend. In his book Death in the Locker Room II: Drugs
and Sports, Bob Goldman attributes the original concept
to fellow physician-author Gabe Mirkin.

According to Goldman, in the early 1980s Mirkin offered this Faustian
bargain to over 100 elite runners: “If I could give you a pill
that would make you an Olympic champion—and also kill
you in a year—would you take it?” More than half of those
questioned responded in the affirmative.

Incredulous and suspicious that the responses might reflect a
mania unique to runners, Goldman made a similar proposal to high-level
competitors from a variety of sports.
In Goldman’s adapta-
tion of the scheme, the athlete would enjoy 5 years of lim-
itless success before death would supervene. His canvass of
198 world-class athletes uncovered 102 who said they
would gladly accept his offer.
Interesting, to me, to learn he did his "research" because he did not believe the earlier research conducted by Mirkin.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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What I find even more interesting, is that Goldman is considered to have been anti-steroid back in the day.

But is now a proponent of anti-aging interventions.

For a while there, it was an awkward partnership. Goldman is a founder of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, also known as A4M, an organization that, over the past dozen years, has done more to popularize the use of testosterone and human growth hormone than any other. It's a weird gig for a guy who, in the 1980s and early 1990s, did all he could to demonize the use of those same drugs. Those books of his were among the first exposes on the topic, made vivid with shock-inducing photos of 'roid-enriched bodybuilders and gigantic, deformed women who lived behind the Iron Curtain. For nearly a decade, Goldman gave hundreds of interviews and speeches as a pioneering antisteroids crusader. Reconciling that message with the hormone-touting of A4M took some explaining. But it's all good now.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/magazine/archives/news/story?page=magazine-20060911-article41
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Goldman's hero was one Jack LaLanne. That's an interesting name to google if you want to see a very fit, 71 year old man who apparently was anti-steroids.
 
May 27, 2010
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Dear Wiggo said:
What I find even more interesting, is that Goldman is considered to have been anti-steroid back in the day.

But is now a proponent of anti-aging interventions.
Add that trivia to observations that the world is a strange place.

There really shouldn't be that much of a surprise on the Goldman or Mirkin Faustian bargain. A number of professional sports offer a lesser version of this test and confirm short-term gain against considerable, even crippling, long-term suffering.

Average career lifespan of a running back in the NFL?

-> Typically quoted as three (2.57) years, the most generous estimate for top 20 RBs is 8 years.

Primary reason leading to retirement (hint: Jim Brown has very little company)?

-> This is a no-brainer, ask Tony Dorsett, Jahvid Best, Jamal Lewis, or ... oops I can't remember.

Why would so many take the bait?

-> Fame and Fortune now, misery later.

Now, on the topic of randomized selection, why wouldn't Mirkin or Goldman or someone else conduct their survey only among pro or other high calibre athletes?

Admittedly, they are already self-selected but that self-selection only confirms that these folks will stop at nothing.

Dave.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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D-Queued said:
Average career lifespan of a running back in the NFL?

-> Typically quoted as three (2.57) years, the most generous estimate for top 20 RBs is 8 years.

Primary reason leading to retirement (hint: Jim Brown has very little company)?

-> This is a no-brainer, ask Tony Dorsett, Jahvid Best, Jamal Lewis, or ... oops I can't remember.

Why would so many take the bait?

-> Fame and Fortune now, misery later.
Very interesting data point, DQ - thanks. Kinda puts paid to the denigration of the original Goldman dilemma, yes?

I have heard about this "short NFL career" a few times now - and it usually comes back to injury, yeah? Which seems to be linked to steroid use and tendons / ligaments not matching muscle strength / growth due to the unnatural strength increase happening too quickly?

Which ties right back into Goldman's pro-steroid / HGH stance now.

Crazy.
 
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? This thread results from a discussion/debate you had with Robbie Canuck in the Doping in Other Sports thread. This is what Robbie said there:

You clearly do not understand the difference between a study that uses random assignment and a study that does not. Goldman's study was not a properly constituted design with random assignment, and therefore fatally flawed. Furthermore it did not control for answers from athletes versus non athletes.

You are missing the point that when the study is carried out properly it had diametrically opposite results to Goldwin's. I am lost as to the fact of why you do not seem to grasp this fundamental distinction.

The sports blog of Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. explains it further,

"A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by James Connor, Jules Woolf and Jason Mazanov has tried to replicate Goldman's findings with a rigorous survey of elite North American track and field athletes. They were motivated to do the study because, "there has been little in the way of replication of the Goldman dilemma since 1995."

Titled "Would they dope? Revisiting the Goldman dilemma" the study finds results at odds with that of the Goldman dilemma:

Only 2 out of 212 samples (119 men, 93 women, mean age 20.89) reported that they would take the Faustian bargain offered by the original Goldman dilemma. However, if there were no consequences to the (illegal) drug use, then 25/212 indicated that they would take the substance (no death condition). Legality also changes the acceptance rate to 13/212 even with death as a consequence. Regression modelling showed that no other variable was significant (gender, competitive level, type of sport) and there was no statistical difference between the interview and online collection method.

Goldman’s results do not match our sample. A subset of athletes is willing to dope and another subset is willing to sacrifice their life to achieve success, although to a much lesser degree than that observed by Goldman."
Here is what Connor et al. actually said about the Goldman study:

The first weakness of Goldman’s work is that no comparable measure of acceptance exists among the general population. That is, there are no data to suggest whether the athletes are responding in the same manner or differently to members of the general population.
I’m sorry, but why is that a weakness? Why do athletes have to be compared to the general population? Goldman was interested in how athletes, who might actually be in a position to act out their beliefs on this issue, would respond. There is no need to query non-athletes, and it’s not clear how their answers would be relevant to those of athletes.

The second weakness in Goldman’s work is found in the wording of the questions. The question presented the outcome (Olympic gold) followed by the consequence (death). As Connor and Mazanov4 assert, ‘Goldman dilemma responses may represent a positive response bias as a function of wording, necessitating replication using the counterbalanced presentation’ (p. 872). The current project tested whether the counterbalanced presentation identified effects in terms of substance legality (legal vs illegal), mortality (death vs non-death) and order of presentation effects (outcome vs consequences).
Again, why? Why does the question have to be worded in a different manner? The point of the Goldman study was to show that many athletes answered a certain question about entertaining the Faustian bargain. Maybe if the question were worded differently, the % would change, but so what? In the absence of being able to show that a particular wording of the question is better correlated with what the athletes would actually do—which neither Goldman nor Connor studied, because they couldn’t—what difference does it make? The salient point of Goldman’s study, which seems to be lost on Connor et al., is to provide a glimpse into the minds of athletes, not determine exactly how many would carry out some act. That so many would answer positively to this question, however it was worded, is remarkable.

The third potential weakness in Goldman’s work is the use of the question method.1 Goldman’s initial study saw athletes verbally answer the question while in attendance at events or training. However, there is little discussion from Goldman on the method of recruitment or how representative his samples were, and to our knowledge the studies have not been peer- reviewed. The biases associated with this method are well known in terms of interviewer effects (eg, confirmation bias), respondent effects (eg, faking good or bad) and setting effects (eg, other people may over- hear responses).
Sure there were biases possible. But in the first place, the biases were likely to decrease not increase the number of positive respondents. If you really thought other people would overhear your response, would you be more likely to say you would dope? Seriously?

And secondly, Connor et al. don’t seem to understand that their own method also introduces a bias:

A research associate solicited athletes after an event (by chance) near the track and invited them to participate in exchange for a sealed bottle of Gatorade. A walled area was set up. Participants were informed of the ethics of the experiment and asked for consent, then randomly assigned into one of two conditions, both in private screened off areas. In the first condition, participants were asked survey questions by a trained inter- viewer, replicating the procedure used by Goldman. The second condition was an anonymous online survey (utilising Fluidsurveys) in a secluded area with a laptop. The questions were identical across administration conditions. The instructions were scripted.
What this method does is explore the minds of athletes in a relatively quiet, reflective environment. But is this the kind of environment in which they make the decision to dope, or is it in the heat of the moment, the locker room environment the track, the road, when you are actually competing? How do they know that answers in this environment—which is much more like a classroom, where athletes might be much more likely to say what they feel is the right thing to say (doesn’t merely raising the issue of ethics bias the result?), than what they are actually going to do in the heat of competition—are more representative of what they might actually do?

The authors found that there was no difference using various wordings of the question, or whether they used a live interviewer or the online method. They seem to accept the validity of Goldman’s findings, in general terms—it would be hard to argue that if the real % of positive answers was a few % then, that Goldman had by chance selected a group of athletes with such a vastly higher proportion. They argue that the much higher % was a reflection of different times, different attitudes towards doping:

Put simply, the sensational reporting of the 1982 to 1995 responses to the Goldman dilemma is no longer relevant to the contemporary debate around the role of drugs in sport.
I don’t buy this conclusion as having much weight. It might be the case, and it might not be. I think the authors are really kidding themselves if they think most serious dopers would answer this question positively, particularly in the environment that the experiments set up. Just ask yourself this: If LA or any number of other dopers of recent years had participated in this study, what do you think their answers would have been?
 
Mar 13, 2009
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D-Queued said:
Add that trivia to observations that the world is a strange place.

There really shouldn't be that much of a surprise on the Goldman or Mirkin Faustian bargain. A number of professional sports offer a lesser version of this test and confirm short-term gain against considerable, even crippling, long-term suffering.

Average career lifespan of a running back in the NFL?

-> Typically quoted as three (2.57) years, the most generous estimate for top 20 RBs is 8 years.

Primary reason leading to retirement (hint: Jim Brown has very little company)?

-> This is a no-brainer, ask Tony Dorsett, Jahvid Best, Jamal Lewis, or ... oops I can't remember.

Why would so many take the bait?

-> Fame and Fortune now, misery later.

Now, on the topic of randomized selection, why wouldn't Mirkin or Goldman or someone else conduct their survey only among pro or other high calibre athletes?

Admittedly, they are already self-selected but that self-selection only confirms that these folks will stop at nothing.

Dave.
on this theme, there is a paper if economics psychology, which delves into this impulse, that your $1 return today, has a greater psychology quantum, than your $1.20 in real terms (not nominal) in 18 months.

ephemeral value is everything. The price has less influence. Humans in the west are studies of impulse control (lack) <was not Huxley interested in this>
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Merckx index said:
I don’t buy this conclusion as having much weight. It might be the case, and it might not be. I think the authors are really kidding themselves if they think most serious dopers would answer this question positively, particularly in the environment that the experiments set up. Just ask yourself this: If LA or any number of other dopers of recent years had participated in this study, what do you think their answers would have been?
success of social engineering so they will hold the cognitive dissonance... or, atleast they offer lip service to anti-doping talking points
 
Jul 1, 2011
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Merckx index said:
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? This thread results from a discussion/debate you had with Robbie Canuck in the Doping in Other Sports thread. This is what Robbie said there:

. . .

I don’t buy this conclusion as having much weight. It might be the case, and it might not be. I think the authors are really kidding themselves if they think most serious dopers would answer this question positively, particularly in the environment that the experiments set up. Just ask yourself this: If LA or any number of other dopers of recent years had participated in this study, what do you think their answers would have been?
Very interesting. It's clearly true that the environment and the manner in which you ask a question is going to affect the answer that the same person will give - dependent on the mood they're in (/you've created), awho they think is listening and a host of other reasons.

So the question I guess is not whether such a big disparity in answers is notable, but which set of responses cleaves closer to actual observed behavioural outcomes if such a 'hypothetical' scenario was offered for real. (And without actually setting up the practical experiment I guess we can only ever speculate on this!) But I agree completely that the temporal explanation the researchers use to explain the disparity is weak.

By the way, re your point about weakness number 1. I think it's only a weakness if you use the results to argue for a specific 'athlete's mania' that is unique to (or at least more pronounced in) elite level competitors. How can you conclude that if you didn't test the general population to compare? (It might just be an observation of the human condition. . . or indeed, non elite athletes with no realistic prospect of an athletic career may be more likely to trade five years in the limelight for death). That said, I don't know whether the Goldman research actually suggested it was some kind of unique mania to elite athletes, so not sure if that criticism of the study is valid, just speculating as to why it might be a criticism.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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mania? its existential RownhamHill. It is fundamental to the identity of this fine/discreet niche of athletes.

not all athletes, there are numerous barriers to entry before they even get to the olympic qualifier sphere of competition

i'd prefer folks did not dope, and did not lie.
 
Jul 1, 2011
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blackcat said:
mania? its existential RownhamHill. It is fundamental to the identity of this fine/discreet niche of athletes.

not all athletes, there are numerous barriers to entry before they even get to the olympic qualifier sphere of competition

i'd prefer folks did not dope, and did not lie.
Not sure I understand the point you're making, but I think all I'm saying is that we don't know whether half of athletes accepting the 'bargain' is something to do with the existential/manic/whatever make up of this particular discrete niche of athletes, or whether you'd find a similar distribution of bargain hunters in the general population. Sorry if that's an unnecessary clarification!
 
For most people pretty much a given that high performing athletes are willing to do 'more' than the general population.

Be that training, weight loss, supplements, strict diets, or something dodgy.


I say that with one caveat though.

It seems the general population is more willing to pop pills of vague efficacy and with some severe side effects rather than make simple changes in terms of healthy eating.

So maybe the general population is happily looking for any shortcut, just as much as an athlete.


Its an interesting area and I don't think it is quite as clear cut as the common knowledge would have you believe.
 
Nov 25, 2010
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It seems that Goldman's was a 'talk is cheap' survey.

Why is it interesting when nobody ever actually DID anything - except talk / lie ?

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 
May 27, 2010
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Catwhoorg said:
For most people pretty much a given that high performing athletes are willing to do 'more' than the general population.

Be that training, weight loss, supplements, strict diets, or something dodgy.


I say that with one caveat though.

It seems the general population is more willing to pop pills of vague efficacy and with some severe side effects rather than make simple changes in terms of healthy eating.

So maybe the general population is happily looking for any shortcut, just as much as an athlete.


Its an interesting area and I don't think it is quite as clear cut as the common knowledge would have you believe.
Good point.

Add diet fads to this, especially where already healthy participants have an otherwise healthy diet.

Gotta love the snake oil.

Dave.
 
Jul 1, 2011
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Catwhoorg said:
For most people pretty much a given that high performing athletes are willing to do 'more' than the general population.
I think that's probably right, but on the other hand I guess that's the weakness of making that kind of claim in a study - if you don't bother to ask the general population, how do you know your given is true?
 
Mar 13, 2009
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RownhamHill said:
I think that's probably right, but on the other hand I guess that's the weakness of making that kind of claim in a study - if you don't bother to ask the general population, how do you know your given is true?
a priori :confused:
 
Richard Sherman, outspoken defensive star of the Seattle Seahawks, wrote an article earlier this year criticizing the new rules banning certain kinds of defensive hits. These rules are designed in response to the concussion problem in the NFL, but Sherman said even if he knew for sure that his play would lead to cognitive deficits later in life, it would still be worth it.

You might write that off as one player, or someone who isn’t old enough to know how he might feel differently later in life, but I posted a link in the NFL thread a couple of years ago of an interview with a former player whose injuries almost destroyed his life:

Lucas' life unraveled as he self-medicated that neck injury. He needed a steel plate and six screws to repair the damage, but his NFL insurance expired after five years and he did not own another policy. In constant pain, Lucas had trouble functioning. He lost his job as an account executive with a financial firm as his pain and depression worsened. He took an endless stream of pills, as many as 800 a month.
But he expressed no regrets:

"I love the game," he said, standing outside the PAST clinic on a spring afternoon. "I've had 13 surgeries and been through hell. And if I could go back tomorrow, I'd go in a second. If somebody said, 'Ray, you can go back and do it all over again, but you're going to have to go through the same thing,' I'd go back in a second. In a second."
This guy was not a superstar, either, he was just another player.

By the way, a judge ruled against the cap on the money the NFL agreed to pay players with concussions. It was a ridiculous sum, about 0.3% of the NFL’s income, probably agreed to by the players originally to avoid long, drawn-out negotiations when so many of them needed immediate help.
 
May 27, 2010
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One of the quotes from Breaking the Chain that has always stuck with me, given its graphic nature, was something to the effect that:

'Virenque would drink his own urine if you told him it would enhance his performance'

Dave.
 
Merckx index said:
Richard Sherman, outspoken defensive star of the Seattle Seahawks, wrote an article earlier this year criticizing the new rules banning certain kinds of defensive hits. These rules are designed in response to the concussion problem in the NFL, but Sherman said even if he knew for sure that his play would lead to cognitive deficits later in life, it would still be worth it.

You might write that off as one player, or someone who isn’t old enough to know how he might feel differently later in life, but I posted a link in the NFL thread a couple of years ago of an interview with a former player whose injuries almost destroyed his life:



But he expressed no regrets:



This guy was not a superstar, either, he was just another player.

By the way, a judge ruled against the cap on the money the NFL agreed to pay players with concussions. It was a ridiculous sum, about 0.3% of the NFL’s income, probably agreed to by the players originally to avoid long, drawn-out negotiations when so many of them needed immediate help.
And Tim Montgomery said he didn't care if he died once he stepped off the track, if he got the world record.

And I remember John Cena in a non scripted interview being asked something similar, if it would risk being disabled later to do whats best for the company now, and he said something like "if that's what it takes"
 
D-Queued said:
One of the quotes from Breaking the Chain that has always stuck with me, given its graphic nature, was something to the effect that:

'Virenque would drink his own urine if you told him it would enhance his performance'

Dave.
Boxer Juan Manuel Marquez actually does that, at least he did when he trained for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I'm not kidding. He really thought it gave him added strength.
 
Jun 16, 2010
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Merckx index said:
Boxer Juan Manuel Marquez actually does that, at least he did when he trained for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I'm not kidding. He really thought it gave him added strength.
This thread has now become a p1$$ing match. A Clinic classic!
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Bradley Wiggins wins UK TT champs:

At last season’s Tour of Britain, he told the press that he would have rather end up in hospital than not win. It proved to be much the same approach for the Sky rider in Wales. "I said to my wife before I started, I wonder where the nearest hospital is. I thought it might be in Newport and she said it was a University hospital so there would be good staff there. It was one of them today, I had full commitment off the ramp. Especially with that first corner, that set the tone for the rest of the ride."

http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/british-road-championships-2014/time-trial-men/results
 
May 26, 2009
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I'm missing the link with doping with Wiggo's blurb to the press. I'd say it's pretty motivational and a good sentence for a newspaper.

Now you all can disagree as this is just opinion, but that particular remark is rather innocent in my book.

"I would do anything to be twenty again." Does not mean I'm taking HGH and testosterone supplement or even that I'm contemplating it.
 
blackcat said:
There is no a priori work, that's RownhanHill's point (I think) and he is correct.

The only kind of conclusions that can be drawn from Goldmans study are that elite athletes are willing to considerably shorten their life to achieve greatness, with the usual caveats of bias, what athletes were asked etc.

No conclusions can be drawn against the public because they were not included in the study. Common dogma may dictate that the public are less likely to take the deal, and that's probably right, but you can't just assume that.

Although, if you offer the deal to 85 year old's they'll probably take it...



I don't know if Goldman ever drew comparisons with the public, it might be interesting but it's certainly not required.
 
King Boonen said:
I don't know if Goldman ever drew comparisons with the public, it might be interesting but it's certainly not required.
Whilst he may not of covered it, the more I come back to this topic, the more I believe that the public are not different to elite athletes.

Low-T treatments to regain youthful vigour (with side effects), those anti-aging clinics, who charge an arm and a leg and inject you full of hormones (with side effects).

Diet pills, crash diets and so on.

Joe Public is looking for shortcuts, and certainly isn't doing it risk free.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY