Your GPS is wrong

One of the big disconnects in the way we share information comes between the general-audience publication (newspapers, magazines) and the scholarly journal article. News outlets want to report the news — information that is new — and business considerations often conspire to make them do that in a shallow way, without devoting space to helping the reader understand the background of that news. Science and medicine, however, proceed slowly, and uncover their best answers over time, with repeated demonstrations (or failures to repeat an effect) that help refine the questions under study and shed light on the factors that can affect the results.

In “This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study,” Julia Belluz discusses some of these issues and gives examples of overhyped stories that were reported widely, with lots of links to further discussions. It’s a nice overview of the reasons that big headlines about new breakthroughs should make you step back and ask more questions.

Not everything that’s published is even checked, let alone correct.


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