The danger of overselling science

The danger of overselling science

'Scientists need to take more care in how they report their results, the media needs to stop overselling, and the public needs to be trained in critical thinking.' and 'Most importantly, do not place blind trust in findings that claim to be based on science.' So conclude Natalie Rens, PhD Candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience and Kelsey Palghat, Senior Research Technician in Cognitive Neuroscience and Autism Research, both of the University of Queensland, in this very good article that explains how scientists, the media and the public all contribute to the current hype, which we often become painfully aware of through our friends passing on glowing reports of cancer cures:


4 Replies

  • It is hard when well meaning friends tell you what they have read, that a change of diet, or this or that supplement has cured people, I just smile and tell them we will try it...............

  • "...the public needs to be trained in critical thinking..." Never has this been so true; emotions instead of rational thought seem to guide many decisions.

  • So sorry I couldn't respond earlier to this thread I was just having my Guatemala Antigua Santa Catalina Whole Bean Coffee ...enema...

    This elegant coffee takes the classic Antigua flavours to the next level with complex layers of praline and rich bittersweet chocolate, complemented by sweet tangerine-like acidity.

    Case in point

    EGCG called PolyphenonE showed some good effect in the Mayo Green tea study, but that does not mean OTC GREEN TEA extracts would have the same effect or any effect for that matter. It is simply unknown... and EGCG works like other chemo drugs effecting DNA proteins... something most patients are unaware of.

    Dr. Neil Kay, Mayo Study P.I.

  • Most people, unfortunately, have little understanding of how science 'works' - the whole process of experimental design, results, analysis, peer review and publication. (Come to that, I am not sure how much of the research published on-line is peer reviewed...) This allows all sorts of crazies and quacks to spout off a load of nonsense... so many 'climate change deniers' in the press probably don't even have a GCSE (or equivalent) in any science, judging by what they write.

    And I'm sure that some medical research is over-influenced by commercial considerations, since companies that find 'cures' for some of the more common conditions stand to make millions (billions, even).

    Let us hope that most scientists are genuinely self-critical, and don't fall into the trap of exaggerating the results they find with the drugs/treatments they are testing. I'm afraid that some do, but it's my opinion that most of the hype is drummed up by the press - maybe egged on by the companies.

    In the UK, we periodically see sob stories about X or Y who is being denied some miracle drug... when you look into it, you generally find that said drug would provide an extra few months of life (on the average), at some ludicrous cost. Not surprisingly, such drugs are not approved - but it doesn't stop the companies trying.

    In the meantime, let's hope that progress in CLL treatments lead to some meaningful extension of life for us all. I am already extremely grateful for the 4 years of remission I've had following a course of BR. I hope that when the condition returns (apparently, that is a certainty) there will be another treatment which will provide another lengthy remission, if not a cure.

    Let's all hope for the best, and my respect for all who have taken the decision to go on clinical trials, with the risks (and possible rewards) that may result.

You may also like...