A journalist-friend asked me to comment on this.
The story, in the Daily Express of the UK, finally got around to explaining that the breathless claims made in the headline and subheadline were based on research in laboratory worms.
The story states:
“Although (the worm in question) is a long way from a human in evolutionary terms, it has been shown to mirror ageing processes in higher forms of life.
Dr Blackwell said: “That’s a strong predictor that this mechanism is relevant to people as well.”
The story also included lots of “coulds…maybes…what ifs” but not any “may nots.” For example, more excerpts, with my emphasis added:
Yes, it could or it may. If – a big if – results in people (far away from today) match those in microscopic worms. Maybe the story should include some “may not lead to” or “may not impact” caveats.
FYI: Here’s the Joslin Diabetes Center news release on the work emanating from its laboratory. You can quickly see that quotes appearing in the Daily Express story are lifted directly from the institutional news release.
That is not good journalism, especially when there are no independent perspectives in the story.
A paper, published in Nature this week, is what kicked off the food chain – leading to the Joslin news release, which led to the news coverage.
In 2015, we’ll be taking a closer look at the contamination of this food chain of dissemination of research news to the general public. This is a prime example.
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