Just because it’s published/ broadcasted/ tweeted doesn’t mean it’s true.
We all know it. Yet, we have all fallen into the trap at some point. Information of all kinds targets our brains daily and what stays in the end is inevitably the headlines: “coffee makes you healthy!” , “coffee responsible for x disease”, “cure for cancer found?” etc etc. As a result, we have probably all found ourselves spreading the news at some point: “no, it was PROVEN that x is good for you”, or wondering to ourselves “but I thought last week they had proven the opposite…” Disbelief towards the credibility of science might kick in at this stage; it is very likely to give its place to newly found enthusiasm, however, if we come across a study “proving” things we advocate.
The issue I try to raise with this post, is brillianty illustrated in this cartoon (borrowed by this hillarious website):
“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham, www.phdcomics.com
How we remember and interprete scientific results, relies heavily on how these results are being reported by the media. Results on public health issues are no exception; we have already touched this subject in a previous post and wondered together with our readers about possible solutions.
In an ideal world, scientsts would report all their findings , press releases would be more objective , media would correctly report health news and social media websites would only be used for the good of science… While we wait for this ideal world to materialize, however, there are wonderful resources on the web to keep us going! Health News Review, for instance, provides independent health news stories and -hand in hand with their publisher’s blog, provide numerous tools and materials on how to read or write scientific results. Bad science hosts a huge collection of articles on, well, bad science and retraction watch keeps track of the scientific articles that are being retracted!
What do you think? How can we deal with the not-so-by-the-book way that scientific results are reported? Do you have any other links you would like to suggest?