Using Twitter to find out more from the Horse

A small point, perhaps, but a useful one is that many of the authors of health scare stories and claims and bad science in general do have twitter accounts.

They (and their followers) may find it very useful to be informed where an article they authored is being discussed on forums such as this.

They may or may not take any notice (or even have the time) but it can't hurt to let them know via twitter than something they reported on is being discussed ....

10 Replies

  • Indeed. I think if you are going to engage with the author of a dodgy story though, you need to think carefully about how you're going to go about it and if you're happy to have a public spat. It can descend into namecalling, which might not be the outcome you had hoped for.

    I think it's also important to consider that as far as the newspaper and the reporter are concerned, the number of hits and the amount of buzz created by the article are a measure of success. They may be quite happy to have some negative publicity. (See

    If you're linking to the article on Twitter you are giving that article more attention and more hits (this is particularly important if you're directing the tweets at all your followers and particularly if you have a large number of those). It might be preferable just to allude to the article, while also looking out for any critical follow-ups or considering putting one together yourself.

  • Or simply to just send the author the link to the discussion here rather than the link to the original article, which is more what I was thinking about.

    Yes, I would not suggest just confronting them, but it has struck me how low scoring (search wise) are discussions that try and put the record straight. I have had a casual interest in the misreporting of science and health stories for years, and am a long term follower of Sense About Science, and yet I had not come across the NHS Behind the Headlines blog before this week. (And neither has a health professional acquaintance of mine.)

    So any linking that can help draw people and authors to a site like this is not just helpful, but probably badly needed

  • Agreed.

  • The forum is very new. We announced its launch only yesterday - please do tell your colleagues and friends. And, thanks for sharing your ideas! Emily

  • Thanks for spreading the word and sorry you've not heard of Behind the Headlines before. If it's any consolation, the Behind the Headlines articles do usually appear highly in Google search results (eg. our analysis of the 5:2 diet ranked #1 on Google last January when the initial furore emerged).

  • Its good you are ranking highly on specific questions, but that is relying on people thinking of searching generally about health headlines or about a particular subject.

    The ideal is that you are in a situation where when most people read about a health issue they immediately think of looking here, or your website and so on.

    Not totally sure how you get there, but it probably means camping out on the BBC breakfast sofa most days! :)

  • Whenever I see or hear a health story that I think might not be as exciting as it seems, my first thought is - are NHS Choices Behind the Headlines on to this yet? They usually are. I like to tweet their analysis behind the stories rather than the stories themselves.

  • Good idea! And one I think I will follow.

  • Hi Joss - from the HealthUnlocked side of things the good news is that we also rank very well in Google. So if a specific debate here follows the sort of questions that people are searching answers for online then it's quite likely that they will end up finding your conversation on the first page of Google in future.

  • Like Matt said - if you spot something bogus, please do flag it up here and get people talking about it!

You may also like...