Abstracts and Academic Press Releases Mislead Journalists and Public


In Bad Science and in the British Medical Journal, Ben Goldacre discusses a recent BMJ study that found a strong tendency for abstracts and press releases from universities to exaggerate study findings, which were in turn reported incorrectly by journalists. Gary Schwitzer also weighs in on HealthNewsReview.org.

My BMJ editorial: how can we stop academic press releases misleading the public? (Bad Science, December 10, 2014)

Exaggeration in health science news releases – and what we’re going to do about it (HealthNewsReview.org, December 9, 2014)

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  1. a really important issue. Often I hear news reports on mental health that are rubbish, or probably rubbish. One from about six months ago was about genetic research into schizophrenia. Comments from experts showed the study showed almost nothing. Articles in the press said there was now great hope that treatments could be developed. No one seemed to challange this.

    Researchers have ever more impetus to get in the press to improve thier reputations to try and secure future funding. It is the natural outcome of allowing a business ethic and private funding to ifiltrate universities.

    This look to me like the natural outcome of Neo – liberalism gone mad and journalists who write about science having humanities backgrounds.

  2. It’s very clear to see why: researchers are subject to the same insane evaluation schemes which gives them all the wrong incentives to publish “more and higher” and it’s hard to do unless you somehow convince the editor and reviewers that your research will cure cancer and send people to Mars. The whole system is rotten just as all the rest of the brave new world we live in.