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How a headline can ruin a health/science story

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Recently a physician friend brought the following to my attention. The same story, written by the same person, but appearing under two very different headlines.

Here’s the original New York Times headline:


The story stated at one point: “No one knows whether vaccinations had anything to do with the girls’ health problems, and the scientific significance of individual cases is always difficult to assess.”

But the Seattle Times picked up the NYT story and used this headline:

Seattle times.png

The Seattle headline gives the misleading impression that there’s a causal link between autism and vaccines. This is the kind of thing that gives headline writers a bad rep.

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