A few days ago I asked how do we break this cycle of news reports based on terrible misreading of the scientific literature literature. All these reports do is spread misinformation and undermine trust in scientific research.
Well, the British National Health System has the answer! Via Ben Goldacre, I’ve found my new, favorite website, Behind the Headlines at NHS. It’s the Snopes.com equivalent for shoddy science journalism. Every day they examine what health news is making the headlines, share it with scientific and clinical experts, and they report on the science in a way that’s actually accurate.
So, ignoring the question of why don’t journalists do their job correctly in the first place so we don’t need this service, I’m thrilled to hear of its existence. It seems inefficient though. First university PR departments and journalists have to mangle the science, then we need to have scientists put it back together again. We should just have scientists report on the literature, like at scienceblogs! Instead we have a bunch of incompetent boobs spoon-feeding the public total garbage without anyone writing in to complain when they turn in stories that are essentially complete fiction.
The authors of this dreck should be fired for journalistic incompetence, and the scientist she quoted (if indeed she was quoted correctly) should consider never talking to a journalist again as they make it appear that she doesn’t even understand her own research. The scientists too in this instance appear culpable as it seems they were happy to help spread completely simplistic, and I think frankly false interpretations of their data.
Luckily, the NHS is providing a public service to the citizens of the UK, and indeed the world, by replacing such nonsense reporting with thoughtful, considered articles that actually explain the science and inform the public.