Actually, I get my information from the same place your sister does, I am doing my stint in research and I've been getting those medical journals for years.
The general notion that 20% of the research is unbiased would probably be an estimation of the pages that aren't pharmaceutical add in many medical journals. (Which is a sad thing but you don't look at them anymore)
However, saying that the large majority of research coming out is biased can mean two things. Biased in common speak, usually that you want to show something specific and will try to influence the results accordingly (without scrupules) or that you've been paid (subventions) by a third party that has ultirior motives. (Like the sugar industry showing their research that sugar doesn't play a role in the obesity epidemic). For example, you could be suspicious of the bias in pharmaceutical research, even though they usually have a good oversight by government agencies. (For example, stuff like Vioxx and heart disease, it took various analyses to show it was there, and you need to look for it, especially since nobody thought it would have anything to do with heart disease.)
In that sense, saying that 20% of the research is biase is patently false.
However, if you use research (or epidemiology) speech, bias means anything, voluntary or not that could affect the results and mask the ''TRUTH'' that we are trying to approximate.
Example, A new research shows that Golf is the most dangerous sport since it kills more people that play it than any other sports.
You would go, Hum, interesting and me who thought that walking was good for you. And then you realized that they only recruited participants 70 years and older and didn't adjust for age. So you would go, that research has a bias in it. Or if the research uses diffrent settings or different tools to collect information. For example, you interview the ''intervention'' group at there hospital bed while they are coming out of surgery all drugged up and in pain and you interview the control group in their homes with a nice cup of coffe. (The groups would be different and there is a bias, the people in their home would give you better information than the ones who just came out of surgery)
Another example, you put up a sign in the local paper saying you need all the nurses on HRT or not on HRT (estrogen/progestin) for your study. Then you get women who are on it and women who aren't on it and you study how they are going to be affected in the future by various disease . Now we end up that HRT doesn't really have any bad effects and a good amount of good effects and you go on and say to yourself, well geewhiz, HRT must be good for you, its does all kinds of good things to your blood lipids, your bones, even some research shows its good for memory.
But then you read further and realized that they didn' really check all that well to see if the women who took the medication where similiar or different then the women who didn't take it. In that study, the evaluated activity levels as being 1 times per week for 30 minutes or more...less than that and you are not physically active.
So here we have a problem (that has been show in better made studies, women who took (before the scandal) HRT are more educated, more physically active and ate better. So when we look at the adjusted levels for all these variables, we see that HRT can have a negative impact on the incidence of strokes (heart disease like MI are still lower, but strokes are really no good).
These are extreme exemples, and in essences, unless you have 5 billions dollars and 5 years to plan your research and then thousands of patients and so on and so forth, you research is probably going to have a bias in it.
However, a bias does not imply that the research is not good, that its crap and that it serves no purpuse, we need to look at the effect of the bias, do we think its big enough to stop you from learning somethinfe of value. Most of the time, (a opposed to the extrem examples above), the answer is no, it is useful, the bias is minor and is not significant.
So I took your bias to be of the first definition considering basically anybody with research experience wouldn't have put it that way.
The thing is that at any one point in time, the flu is going around, various strains of it. Some people will get the vaccine and be totally immune to 1, 2 or all 3 of the strains, or they might only get partial immunity and when they get it by the strain of the virus against with they are immunized they respond faster and the flu doesn't last as long. Or we could be unlucky and get a strain that wasn't in the vaccine...then well, unless we have some cross-immunity, you are basically screwed and its like you never had the vaccine because in reality you never had a vaccine agains these strains.
As for your perception of health care professional, to each his own and its probably a case of double negative bias (eh, nobody is immune to bias!) and I can't really tell you anything about that.
As for you comment on vaccines and babies, I can't really sugar coat it, it was ignorant and dumb and kinda sets the tone for everything. Its basically like if you told me ''these dumbs twits believe the earth is round, eh, if it was round we'd be falling of it'''... You kinda shot yourself in the foot on that one.
For the generalized comments on the your intellectual abilities of a third world villager, it was not directed solely at you or even specifically at you, its just that the arguments brought forth are of the same nature. When you get yourself in research that might lead you in a third worlds county for exemple, you get educated on the reasons we people might be afraid to get your vaccine, or your packet of food and so on and so forth. They can't know any better.
We on the other hand, I feel, are morally obligated to know.
Some of the arguments above are like the ones we heard when we were doing research on lung cancer or the bad effects of alcool. My grand-father smoked a pack a day since he was forteen years old and drank 5 glasses of scotch a day since he was twelve. He died at 94 years old in perfect health.
In Quebec, for the amount of money the flu shot cost, we know that the ministery of health looks at independant research on vaccines, and don't just take the manufactures promise on it. Of course the efficacy might vary from year to year, especially if we get it by a strain that isn't in the vaccine, but a least you prepared yourself. Then again, the vaccination concepts have been so well studied and for so long, its now basically like Newton's Law of every action produces an equal reaction.
But eh, what are you gonna do, doctors get patient that have the flu, swear that they are sick and want antibiotics. When the doc does his job and does't give them, saying its useless. You see these patient coming out of the office saying ''That freaking jerk wouldn't give me a prescription, I know I'm sick god-dammit'' and they are going to get a second opinion, and eventually some doc might give a prescription just to get that dense patient out of his/her office.
Even on this site you see people basically saying their doctor is a moron and when you look at what the doc did with a medical perspective its : Well, the doc did exactly what he's supposed to have done.
I have it from both sides, my dad is a doctor, my mom a pharmacist and I listen to these stories of what happens when the patient comes out of the hospital or clinic and gets to the pharmacy and bitches about the doctor that didn't tell her/him this or that. Then you get the Mom question ''Didn't you tell her...'' and then the Dad answer: ''Well yeah, I told here, I told her THREE times!''
But this is just a reflection of what patient percieve, and studies on this issue are frightning, patient forget an insane amount of info as soon as they leave the doctors office. Maybe its stress, lack of attention, intimidation, who knows, but it like when you get introduced to someone and immediately forget their names.
In the end, your doctor is going to be an ignorant twit, because you forgot that he told you x,y,z. Or when you get 2 or 3 different opinons and then say doctors are moron.
''Five weeks ago Dr. Y told me it was exzema, two weeks ago at the CLSC, the doc told me it was a reaction to X now I go the the ER and they tell me its psoriasis''
You just want to say, Mme Tremblay, when you came in 5 weeks ago, it did look like exzema and now it does look like psoriasis...But then again, that wouldn't change anything.
In the end, this won't change anything because for most people, beliefs are more important than knowledge and changing beliefs is inherently emotionaly charged and hard to do. So I could have an online class on immunology on these forums and people would still say its no good or near no good.
I'm fighting against the Borg here