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(Some Of The Media's Problems When) Reporting Preliminary (Science) Studies

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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-15-11 06:16 PM
Original message
(Some Of The Media's Problems When) Reporting Preliminary (Science) Studies
Edited on Tue Feb-15-11 06:22 PM by HuckleB
http://theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=2826#more-2826

"...

Medical science is full of these preliminary studies. They provide the raw material from which large and expensive trials are derived. We also know from reviewing the literature that most of these preliminary studies will turn out to be wrong. The scientific community understands this.

The problem is in the reporting of these studies.
The mainstream media probably should just ignore any study that is deemed preliminary, especially if its just an isolated study. Perhaps in a thorough feature article it would be reasonable to give an overview of the state of the research into a question, including preliminary studies, because in a feature time can be taken to put the evidence into perspective. But reporting a single preliminary study as science news is a highly problematic approach.

On this item there was a range of reporting, from fear-mongering to reasonable. The ABC report, for example, was very reasonable and included appropriate background information and balanced quotes from critics of the study. But many people reading the report will come away with just the headline: Diet Soda: Fewer Calories, Greater Stroke Risk? (other headlines did not even include the question mark). Even those who read the article and get the fact that the conclusions are preliminary and many experts are skeptical three months from now they are likely to just remember the association between diet soda and stroke risk, and not the fact that the association is likely not true.

Over-reporting of preliminary results also has the effect of confusing the public with lots of noisy information, most of which is not true. This causes people to distrust science in general, because they keep hearing conflicting information.

..."



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A fair, concise piece on this ongoing issue.

:hi: :toast:
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-15-11 08:06 PM
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1. Or you can just read this cartoon for a summary.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-16-11 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. That does tell the story!
:rofl:
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-16-11 12:00 PM
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3. ...
:spray:
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-27-11 09:47 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. OMG, ROFLMAO!!!
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-30-11 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. +1
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-30-11 06:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. I love that cartoon; it says it all!
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 05:33 PM
Response to Original message
4. Alas, the same problems are found in various OPs at DU.
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