As all researchers know, science is a grinding parade of failure and dead ends. But as we’ve often written, news release writers sometimes seem hell-bent on making the public believe otherwise. Like expert makeup artists, they can add sparkle to lackluster findings, mask blemishes in study designs, and smooth over unimpressive data. One thing I won’t miss much about my job at HealthNewsReview.org is reading the daily churn of PR ...

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Results of a much-anticipated trial on fish oil and vitamin D generated conflicting headlines recently. Some stories declared good news about the popular supplements. Reuters wrote that fish oil “can dramatically reduce the odds of a heart attack while vitamin D’s benefits seem to come from lowering the risk of death from cancer.” The Washington Post reported fish-oil medications were found “effective” in protecting ...

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Effective clickbait doesn’t just happen. It’s carefully crafted. Take this wildly misleading article from CNN: Not exercising worse for your health than smoking, diabetes, and heart disease, study reveals. It’s one example — among many generated daily by various news outlets — of how a mundane observational study can be transformed into viral internet gold. In the days after it was published, this story was liked and shared hundreds ...

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Houston Chronicle reporter Craig Hlavaty recently treated readers to a first-person account of getting an intravenous (IV) vitamin infusion inside a van parked outside his house. The article, “Feeling the drip, drip, drip of the mobile IV craze,” related how a needle was inserted into his arm, “just where a tattooed lightning bolt strikes.” Hlavaty extolled the cool rush of liquid into his veins: After a few minutes, a great euphoria hits ...

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