Note to our followers: Due to a lack of sufficient funding, will cease daily publication of new content at the end of 2018. Publisher Gary Schwitzer and other contributors may post new articles periodically. If you wish to donate, your gift might help keep the site available to the public for a few more years, by defraying costs of web hosting and maintenance. All of our 6,000+ published articles contain lessons to help people improve their critical thinking about health care. Read more about our change in status. And here's how to make a donation.

When reporting on sloppy science, NY Times ‘Well’ section should practice what it preaches

A New York Times column on Monday bemoaned the sorry state of much nutrition research, saying it’s too often poorly designed and riddled with conflicts of interest. The headline: Confused by Nutrition Research? Sloppy Science May Be to Blame Written by longtime “Personal Health” columnist Jane Brody, the piece is based on a new book, […]


Watch out, ladies. Alexa wants to make sure you check your breasts

A British breast cancer awareness group made news by announcing it developed a free app for Amazon’s Alexa virtual voice assistant called “Taking care of your breasts.” A description of the app, available in the U.K., states: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. The lifetime risk of a woman developing breast […]


Podcast: The polluted stream of health care information

As health care information flows from its source to the general public there are several opportunities for contamination.
Who is doing this? How? And what can be done to clean it up?

1 10/30/2018

Sponsored content’s slippery slope: UC Davis and WaPo laud ‘Moringa, the next superfood’

The University of California at Davis (UC Davis) has partnered with the Washington Post (WaPo) to publish an article in which a significant conflict of interest is not disclosed, and where claims of major health benefits aren’t supported by adequate evidence. The article — ‘Moringa, the next superfood‘ — was published earlier this month. It’s […]


A step-by-step guide to creating health care clickbait

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. […]

1 10/24/2018

Medical crowdfunding steers millions in donations to dangerous snake oil

We’ve written extensively about the dark side of medical crowdfunding — how donations meant to help desperate patients may perversely promote useless and dangerous interventions. We’ve also looked at the news industry’s complicity with these misguided campaigns — how the crowdfunding stories journalists latch onto often aren’t appropriately vetted and can perpetuate harmful health disparities. […]

10 10/24/2018

‘Simply cruel’: Patient advocates condemn breast cancer immunotherapy hype

“Increases life expectancy,” announced Newsweek. “Helped slow an aggressive type of breast cancer,” reported Reuters. “Expected to change the standard of care,” crowed The New York Times. Judging by news reports last weekend, women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer had reason to cheer results of a clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug called atezolizumab, which […]

1 10/23/2018

Big news for rodent readers: (Mouse) fathers who exercise have healthier kids

It took the Joslin Diabetes Center four paragraphs and three mentions of fathers – as in, “how a father’s exercise regimen would affect his offspring’s metabolic health” –  to finally mention that its research news release was about mouse fathers. Ohio State Medical Center – home to the study’s co-author – led with this in […]


When it comes to surprise medical bills, journalists largely focus on casualties and not the war

Throughout the summer, I saw tweet after tweet calling for an end to surprise medical bills, an issue that’s rising in public importance: Do you know how patients like you get hit with #surprisebills? It's the surprise insurance gap — when your plan doesn't cover care you need. In an #emergency, you need your insurance to […]

1 10/22/2018

Can coffee ‘tame the redness of rosacea’? Here’s what you need to know about the New York Times’ coverage

Here’s another example in our occasional series documenting how the New York Times’ ‘Well’ section is often unwell. This time it’s a brief story claiming that “Coffee may tame the redness of rosacea.” Let’s start with the fact that this study was observational and had many limitations, which we’ll explain below. (Read our primer on observational […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

View More