We simply don’t know why more news organizations can’t do an adequate job of explaining the limitations of observational studies – most notably, that they can’t prove cause and effect.
Yes, they can show strong associations. But they can’t prove cause and effect.
NBC Nightly News, as one example recently, inadequately explained the latest suggestion that coffee consumption can lower the risk of prostate cancer. In the anchor lead, Brian Williams framed this as another case of flip-flopping science, lightheartedly talking about what they say about “all those medical studies…if you don’t like the findings, wait for the next study.”
The story seemed puzzled at how the same “lab” 30 years ago reported that coffee was linked to an increase in pancreatic cancer. NBC said the researchers later said they got it wrong. This time – with the prostate cancer link – they say they got it right. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*
In an article filled with speculation, misinformation and broad sweeping generalizations, the Wall Street Journal does its damned best to make the birth control pill seem to be the worst thing to have happened to modern civilization, implying that by interfering with ovulation, the pill impairs our natural ability to choose a mate, causes women to choose less masculine partners and then stray from them, and makes us pick genetically similar rather than dissimilar mates.
Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulationâ€¦.Researchers speculate that women with less-masculine partners may become less interested in their partner when they come off birth control, contributing to relationship dissatisfactionâ€¦That could prompt some women to stray, research suggests. Psychologist Steven Gangestad and his team at the University of New Mexico showed in a 2010 study that women with less-masculine partners reported an increased attraction for other men during their fertile phase.
â€śLess masculineâ€ť men. What the heck does that mean? Less hairy? Less into sports? Less violent? Not into Nascar or big trucks?
How about more likely to engage in conversation? More likely to care about their partnerâ€™s satisfaction in bed than their own? More likely to accept a woman having a career? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*