bad science and/or bad journalism

Through the excellent snowdeal blog I came across this column in the Guardian newspaper. READ IT. It is a remarkable piece, remarkable in that it allows, from within, some hard-hitting criticism of science-journalism. But you should read it even more for its smart analysis and content. I simply cannot agree more with the author. Only last week was I dismayed, once more, by the science-reporting in the Belgian newspaper “De Standaard“. (this newspaper considers itself a quality newspaper but let me add that science reporting by the government run broadcasting media are worse by an order of magnitude!) At first I thought of writing a letter to the paper. A waste of time, my father opined. Let me therefore briefly make the point here. September 2, science section, headline reading (my translation) “Mad cow disease caused by human remains out of the Ganges”. No hint, not a word, in the heading, about this being a hypothesis, something that remains to be researched further. I suggest reading the original.
Next page, same hyperbole in the headline (my translation) : “Comb better than lice-poison”. But reading the piece indicates that things are definitely not that simple. Why is this not be reflected in the title? Maybe the journalist is not writing up these headlines, but he or she should! It is not only the headlines though, it is the skewed selection of subject matter. Information or entertainment and scaremongering?

So it seems that the observations of Ben Goldacre in The Guardian have some global validity!

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