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.
2 12/30/2007

Bothered by "breakthroughs"

I have published the following commentary on the website. TIME magazine, like many publications, loves year-end lists. Its “Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of 2007” list offers brief capsules on developments that someone at TIME decided were in the top ten and also that someone decided qualified as breakthroughs. The list: Circumcision can prevent HIV […]


Does the language of a story match the evidence?

Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto authored a thoughtful piece on how journalists may imply cause-and-effect in reporting on research, when the study design didn’t really establish cause-and-effect. Examples: Eating fish may help preserve eyesight in older people. The authors calculated that participants who did 75 minutes a day of activities… lowered their risk of dying […]


Does Your Language Fit The Evidence?

The following is a guest column by Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto, two people who have thought a lot about how reporters cover medical research.   A health writer’s first attempt at expressing results from a new observational study read, “Frequent fish consumption was associated with a 50% reduction in the relative risk of dying […]


Goodbye, Columbus TV health news credibility

Nothing new here at all – just the latest episode of a local community discovering that its glorified local health news is often just paid-for advertising. The Other Paper of Columbus, Ohio unveils how Ohio State University Medical Center pays one station almost $100,000 a year to air “Breakthroughs in Medicine” segments in the newscast, […]


"The Christmas miracle of antioxidants"

Ben Goldacre, a British physician and writer, makes a prediction in this week’s BMJ (subscription required for full article access): “I’d like to make a sage prediction, seeing as it’s early December. One of the joys of watching bad science coverage in the media—as I have done for four years now—is that you start to […]


Trying to reach editors to improve health journalism

We may be preaching to the choir with many of our attempts to improve health journalism if we only reach reporters. The editors to whom they report may be the most important group to reach to effect change. With that goal, I’m grateful that The American Editor, a publication of the American Society of Newspaper […]


TV sweeps period contrived controversy

We’re in the middle of the November TV ratings/sweeps period. TV stations at these times often suddenly like to show a great interest in health care stories because their consultants tell them that viewers want health care news. (Why they don’t give it this attention the rest of the year is unknown.) But health care […]


The Whole Story

Minnesota Medicine this month has a good summary of our work to date with


News Releases & Scientific Meetings: A Guest Editor Column

Here’s a guest editor column from one of our reviewers, Harry DeMonaco,  a Senior Clinical Associate in the Decision Support and Quality Management Unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital.   News coverage of the recent American Heart Association Scientific Sessions (November 4 – 7) raises new questions about how journalists cover scientific meetings. On Monday […]


How Four Stories Fared in Covering Alzheimer's Blood Test Study

Last week many news organizations reported on research to find a blood test to help identify Alzheimer’s disease.  We reviewed four stories on that research: • San Francisco Chronicle • ABC’s Good Morning America  • ABC Evening News • CBS Evening News  All four stories were rated as unsatisfactory for discussing the quality of the […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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