Why newspapers publish ‘fake news’ about science
by Michael Cook | 6 Mar 2017 |
Rage over fake news is the fashionable complaint in politics. How about science? An article in PLOS One by researchers at the University of Bordeaux, France exposes the deficiencies of much of science reporting. “Many biomedical findings reported by newspapers are disconfirmed by subsequent studies,” they write.
This happens because newspapers prefer to publish, um... news –developments which are novel or contradict the conventional wisdom. An article touting the medicinal benefits of say, asparagus extract, will always get front page billing. Subsequent research which fails to replicate this research will often go unreported. So the public is left believing that consuming huge quantities of asparagus will cure cancer, psoriasis and glaucoma.
Furthermore, they observe, most journalists from the mainstream media prefer to ignore “the high degree of uncertainty inherent in early biomedical studies”. They suggest that “when preparing a report on a scientific study, journalists should always ask scientists whether it is an initial finding and, if so, they should inform the public that this discovery is still tentative and must be validated by subsequent studies.”
Scientists, too, have “a moral duty” to ensure that press releases describing their work are accurate.
A State Senator in Hawaii, Breene Harimoto gave an emotional address this week to persuade his colleagues to vote against a bill for legalising physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. He said that in 2015 he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which has a low survival rate and can be quite painful. But he was cured. “It is a miracle that I am still alive,” he said.
His point was that “terminal illness” is almost meaningless. Margaret Dore, a Seattle lawyer who lobbied against the bill, recalls an even more dramatic incident. “A few years ago, I was met at the airport by a man who at age 18 or 19 had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and given 3 to 5 years to live, at which time he would die by paralysis. His diagnosis had been confirmed by the Mayo Clinic. When he met me at the airport, he was 74 years old. The disease progression had stopped on its own."
If Senator Harimoto or Ms Dore’s friend had the option of assisted suicide, they might stopped fighting their disease and chosen a quick death. They would have chopped decades off their lives. “Terminal illness” is a pillar of assisted suicide legislation – and it just doesn’t make sense.
|NEWS THIS WEEK|
by Michael Cook | Mar 11, 2017But supports warning parents over Down syndrome
by Michael Cook | Mar 11, 2017If deafness disappears, who will speak their language?
by Michael Cook | Mar 11, 2017Market is expanding to Asia and Africa
by Michael Cook | Mar 11, 2017A bad habit with a huge health cost
by Michael Cook | Mar 11, 2017They receive significant funding and industry reps sit on their boards
by Michael Cook | Mar 11, 2017Australian hospitals duped by fake doctor
by Xavier Symons | Mar 10, 2017Indian authorities have discovered 19 aborted fetuses dumped in plastic bags in the western state of Maharashtra.
by Xavier Symons | Mar 10, 2017Canada has passed a new law that prevents corporations from demanding genetic information from potential employees or customers.
by Xavier Symons | Mar 10, 2017Several jurisdictions are debating legislation that would ‘outlaw’ or ‘condemn’ euthanasia and assisted suicide.
by Xavier Symons | Mar 10, 2017The Philippine House of Representatives has voted in favour of a bill that would allow the execution of criminals.
by Michael Cook | Mar 06, 2017Articles reporting that old headlines are not true tend not to end up on the front page
Suite 12A, Level 2 | 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | Australia
Phone: +61 2 8005 8605
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgNew Media Foundation | Level 2, 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | AUSTRALIA | +61 2 8005 8605
No hay comentarios:
Publicar un comentario