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Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To Spot A Fake Science News Story

Alex Berezow
American Council on Science and Health
Originally published January 31, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

How to Detect a Fake Science News Story

Often, I have been asked, "How can you tell if a science story isn't legitimate?" Here are some red flags:

1) The article is very similar to the press release on which it was based. This indicates whether the article is science journalism or just public relations.

2) The article makes no attempt to explain methodology or avoids using any technical terminology. (This indicates the author may be incapable of understanding the original paper.)

3) The article does not indicate any limitations on the conclusions of the research. (For example, a study conducted entirely in mice cannot be used to draw firm conclusions about humans.)

4) The article treats established scientific facts and fringe ideas on equal terms.

5) The article is sensationalized; i.e., it draws huge, sweeping conclusions from a single study. (This is particularly common in stories on scary chemicals and miracle vegetables.)

6) The article fails to separate scientific evidence from science policy. Reasonable people should be able to agree on the former while debating the latter. (This arises from the fact that people ascribe to different values and priorities.)

The article is here.
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