Saturday, May 30, 2009

Study: hacks often bamboozled by flacks

Study: hacks often bamboozled by flacks: Steven Woloshin et al., "Press Releases by Academic Medical Centers: Not So Academic?", Annals of Internal Medicine, 150(9): 613-618:

Background: The news media are often criticized for exaggerated coverage of weak science. Press releases, a source of information for many journalists, might be a source of those exaggerations.
Conclusion: Press releases from academic medical centers often promote research that has uncertain relevance to human health and do not provide key facts or acknowledge important limitations.
[...]The best thing, it seems to me, would be to enrich the journalistic ecosystem with more species in niches like the one that Goldacre's Bad Science column occupies — agile, razor-clawed predators culling the herds of science-news herbivores that graze the green shoots of press releases on the endless media plains. (Via Language Log.)

Or like Language Log, Real Climate, The Loom, Statistical Modeling, or Effect Measure, to mention some of my current reading. The blogospherian explosion has created a wealth of innovative lineages. I don't know how they will evolve and survive, but we are already getting more informed discussion of science than we ever did from “the press.”

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