Bad science reporting

Science reporting can be tricky but if your job is to report on such topics then you should do it responsibly. A recent article on Yahoo!, written by Elise Solé, shows a number of bad reporting habits that should be discouraged, starting with the sensationalist headline.

Why Teen Girls Should Avoid Soda

Drinking sugary drinks is bad for you and everyone should try to cut down. I essentially stopped drinking sugary drinks a few years ago for the sake of my teeth but there are many benefits to cutting them completely or merely reducing consumption. However, that’s not what this article is about. Compare it to a headline from another news article on the same subject (I’ll tell you why I chose this one later). Continue reading

Advertisements

Indulging superstitions comes at a real cost

Often we think of people’s superstitions as harmless quirks that have are easily tolerated. No one gets hurt if someone says a prayer before eating, refuses to walk under a ladder or doesn’t go out on Friday the 13th. Those are all superstitions, ie irrational beliefs in the supernatural, but ones that are so common or harmless that we give them a free pass. When some people take their superstitions to even greater extremes, like claiming lego will destroy children’s souls or that Dungeons and Dragons is evil, we find it ridiculous but don’t pay it much attention other than as a curiosity. Continue reading

Coming to terms with randomisation

Hugh Laurie as House (Source: Wikipedia)

In my previous post I wrote a bit about RCTs and how they help us to know what does and doesn’t work. This is a very powerful tool for finding out what works but it requires a lot of effort in paperwork, analysis, recruiting participants and controls and in monitoring them. What’s nice is that this effort isn’t always needed. There are times when you can do RCTs with almost no effort and still learn a great deal. The problem is that there can be reluctance to do so.

The inspiration from this is drawn from chapter 5 of Bad Pharma, so if you want more details then you should go read them there. Continue reading

Making a profession less appealing will not increase numbers

I first heard about an attempt to make vets perform community service last year. There is a decent reason for the community service, there aren’t enough vets, particularly in rural areas, and this will put vets where they are needed. That bill is currently being presented and would require newly-qualified veterinarians to perform one year of community service before being allowed to practice or before the government will give a reference. This in the hopes of stopping the 45% of vets that leave the country after qualifying from doing so. Continue reading

Faculty bioethics day 2/2

II – Professionalism

“Not the casual observer: What happens when medical students encounter unethical conduct during clinical rotations?”
Maya Jaffer

This talk was given by a sixth year medical student who had an interest in bioethics. This talk talked about the ethical conduct of students and how it changed during their medical career and the possible reasons and responses to the situations. Continue reading

Petition for personal autonomy in South Africa

Way back in my first blog post I tried to make the point that rights were something that could not be taken from you but which you could relinquish voluntarily. This was because although they are afforded to empower each individual to live their own life to force people to abide by certain rights when they do not want them actually undermines their entire purpose. There were a few possible cases which I had in mind when I wrote that and I want to say a little bit more about one of them today, the right for someone to choose when they want to end their life. Continue reading