Quick sale + year in review

    A transparent look at Examine's year.

    First things first: We’re having a New Year's Sale on Examine+ that starts right now and lasts until Monday! Save up to 34% on yearly and lifetime subscriptions.

    Some of you are die-hard Examine fans and might want to know a little bit about how 2022 went for us. In classic transparent fashion, I’ll list both the good stuff and the bad stuff.

    Good stuff: 84 brand-new health condition pages

    From acne to anxiety and menopause to multiple sclerosis, we made a ton of progress creating new health condition pages during the past nine months.

    These condition pages are forming the

    Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.”

    I think that’s a bit silly. But maybe that’s why he’s rich and I’m not?

    To me, bug-filled redesigns and new products often seem to result from management pushing teams to work faster and less thoughtfully than they should. Of course there are bound to be bugs with anything new, but I doubt waiting a week or two would derail launches too much, and it would make the user experience much less confusing.

    All that being said, we ended up launching Examine 2.0 with too many bugs, although the core functions all worked.

    There were a few reasons for this, but no matter how many excuses we’d like to make, the bottom line is that we should have planned better. To make sure this doesn’t happen again, we’re starting to build a public road map of bugs and features. In a few short months, anyone will be able to see the status of Examine at a glance by using this road map.

    Good and bad stuff: Artificial intelligence & machine learning

    Artificial intelligence is the ultimate double-edged sword — not for humanity (please don’t target us, Skynet), but for the Examine website.

    You see, we extract data from mountains and mountains of papers. Other health websites don’t dive this deep into the data, so they don’t have to put in the thousands of hours we do, scanning the full text of papers for effect sizes, study inclusion criteria, and the like. AI might be able to help us with this grunt work at some point, which could save us soooooooo much time.

    And now for the bad. First, the AI tools we’ve tested aren’t quite accurate enough to extract the data we need without a lot of hand-holding. They’re getting better every month, though, so hopefully this will happen soon.

    Second — and perhaps more important — Examine’s evidence pages are handcrafted and labor intensive to create. Conversely, answers from AI tools such as ChatGPT are nearly instantly synthesized using fancy algorithms that try to automatically cull the best information from the web.

    These are two very different approaches. Examine won’t be able to answer every question you ask, but we put a ton of thought into the questions we do answer: rigorous discussions and debates among Examine researchers, frequent digging into the nitty-gritty of related papers, and so on. We read the actual papers and evaluate them.

    Yet, if an AI tool ends up answering health questions kinda sorta accurately, what proportion of the answers will be up to our standards? How many people will still want expert analyses?

    These issues really came to the forefront for us in 2022. Who knows what the distant future will bring, but we’re hoping to harness AI to help with our data extraction and avoid being replaced wholesale by AI tools (except for you, of course, Skynet overlords).

    Good stuff: A drastically faster, flexible, modern website

    I mentioned all the bugs that came with the launch of Examine 2.0. Part of the reason for these bugs was that our developers rewrote the entire code base for the website. We can’t use off-the-shelf software, due to our custom database and complex structure, so this rewriting was difficult.

    Now that we have brand-new, clean code, the site is blazing fast and clean. Try it! Just go to any page on the site and see how fast it loads compared with the laggy days of the old site or the majority of pages on the web that load flashy ads along with content.

    The part that matters most to you, though, is the flexibility that comes with this new code. It used to take forever to develop website features because of clunky code and limited staff. We doubled the size of our tech team this year, which means that we can come up with new features and implement them. So watch out for new features as 2023 progresses.

    Good stuff: 23 researchers on the Examine team

    Fifteen years ago, I worked as a researcher at a major, federally funded Evidence-Based Practice Center. We had a large research team of around 15 people.

    Never ever in a million years would I have imagined that a scrappy, self-funded company of nutrition nerds could grow to a team of 23 researchers (though this is roughly split in half between full-timers and part-timers).

    These researchers are also some of the nicest people around, are incredibly smart, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. I’ll take a page created by Examine researchers over a page created by AI any day.

    And now that we’ve laid the groundwork for the new site, 2023 will be full of updates and new pages created by our larger research team.

    If there’s anything about Examine you have a question about, never hesitate to ask. Just contact us.


    Kamal Patel
    Co-founder, Examine

    P.S. If you want to lock in a discounted annual or lifetime membership, our New Year’s Sale starts now and ends on Monday.