“A new study shows . . .”: The inadequacy of mainstream media reporting medical research. “Trouble is, as any frequent morning news show viewer can tell you, when reporting on what today’s “new study shows,” reporters routinely fail to provide viewers with much (or sometimes any) detail or context — Who did the research/study? Who funded it? How large was the sample size? How does it compare to similar studies in the field? — of the sort that allows viewers to decide how much credence to lend the research or where to look for additional information.

This morning, for example, none of these questions were answered for viewers of CBS’s ‘The Early Show’ in its report on ‘new research’ about how men and women process jokes. Here is the entirety of Hannah Storm’s report:

‘What’s so funny? New research says it depends on who you are. Some think ‘The Three Stooges.’ [Cue footage of Mo, Larry and Curly]. Men apparently like slapstick comedy a lot more than women in this study. Women prefer a good joke instead.’” (via Medpundit)

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  • JonMikel, M.D.

    And this is the everyday story… mainly -i think-, that’s because the reader/listener/whatever is what wants to read/listen/whatever.

    Here in Mexico i heard about a medical seminary for journalists, where the main objective, is to teach journalist how to interpret medical news.

    JonMikel, M.D.

  • MedSleuth

    I am constantly frustrated by the reporting of medical news by the media. If you have the time to examine everything they report, you realize that inaccuracy is the rule rather than the exception.

    Scarier still, there are people listening to this news and making health decisions based on what they hear on these shows. The news shows desire a dramatic headline to grab viewers, and often accuracy and completeness are sacrificed.

    Thanks for your post.

  • Anonymous

    This lack of depth is the same for every industry. Of course, there’s not time for a lot of depth in a 30 minute or even hour news program that is covering all the events of the day.


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