Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ground-Breaking Study that Should Change Your Life
An important study has been published
This spring, Dr. Johannes Bohannon and a team of German scientists discovered that people on low-carbohydrate diets could lose weight faster if they used one weird trick: Eat a bar of chocolate every day.
Newsrooms around the world responded eagerly to Bohannon's findings.
"Excellent News: Chocolate Can Help You Lose Weight!" Huffington Post India declared in a report...Even Europe's highest-circulation newspaper, Bild, got in on the action, publishing a report titled "Slim by Chocolate!"
Journalists and readers looked past the too-good-to-be-true nature of the findings and devoured the story wholesale.
But Bohannon's research was a hoax.
The health study was deliberately faked to test the hypothesis that scientists and reporters rarely detect junk science. No one caught on to this ruse.
No, not the one about the chocolate, the study about the quality of science reporting in our news. Bottom line: you need to learn science, method and critical reasoning because your betters aren't going to do it for you.

Once bad work is published in a scientific journal, reporters tend to turn off their critical faculties
As Folta noted, "Once something's published, people will cling to it and say, 'Well, it's published in a peer-reviewed journal.' This thwarts the entire scientific process."
Yet, despite the troubling state of its checks and balances, science is regularly invoked as an absolute authority, and anyone who challenges the "research" is branded as backward.
What is the solution?
Conko, meanwhile, stressed that it is on newsrooms to make sure their reporters understand the topics discussed..."Journalists hold themselves up as being the people who are trying to bring truth to news consumers....”
Bohannon's solution is a little simpler..."My approach is shaming," he said. "This is a total triage situation. There are so many ways that the media-researcher complex needs to be improved and I feel like right now we need to call attention to it."
He brightened when recalling a surprise from his chocolate experiment.... Bohannon noticed that the reports were inspiring lively discussions in the comments sections. In these sections, Bohannon noticed that readers were processing the bad information and noting loudly that the research was faulty.

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