The popular press regularly botches its science reporting. Not a week goes by without an exaggerated headline about the so-called “vaping epidemic” or a news story erroneously warning that an innocuous pesticide causes cancer.
Fact checking the media's sloppy science journalism is one of my favorite pastimes, but it also prompts an important question: why does the press bungle its science coverage so frequently? Sometimes it's because reporters are gullible, ideological, or have no particular interest in or knowledge of the topic they're covering. But another serious problem is that universities, science journals, and individual experts often get things wrong. The scientific community knows this all too well, as cancer epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat recently explained:
[T]he public and journalists – the consumers of information about health – need to be aware of something that researchers know well – there is no [study] that is so dreadful that it cannot be published somewhere.If you're a consumer of science news, or just a curious person looking for information on nutrition or medicine, you have to learn how to spot junk science in sources that are typically reliable and evaluate claims made by people who are usually trustworthy. So here are a few guidelines that have helped me separate sound research from misinformation, as both a science writer and a consumer..............To Read More...
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