Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Hot Media

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  • James Green,

    I'd like to think professional communicators would display some level of literacy and numeracy (or basic research skills) that wouldn't lead to utter bullshit like the rash of 'anti-depressants don't work - studies show' stories that were doing the rounds a few weeks back.

    That is an interesting example -- we printed out a copy of the original research article and left it on a table in the corridor for grazing for a few days. There are a bunch of issues that make it not the whole story (it was only some anti-depressants and only a subset of the evidence - but an extremely interesting subset because it included all the unpublished research as well as the published)... but the biggest thing was not that it didn't show that anti-depressants didn't work (it showed a very large effect), but that the placebo effect was perhaps three quarters of the the size of the drug effect. IE -- the sugar pills worked really fucking well!

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Something that makes me gloomy is that TV3 trot out DOCTOR Lillian Ng (their emphasis) on health issues. I think this adds a certain richness to some issues, but I lament her interpretation of health research.

    A couple of months back, TV3 had imported some 'vaccines cause autism' story, which was actually framed around a girl who, it turned out if you listened carefully, wasn't actually autistic. They had Mike McRoberts talk to Lilian Ng afterwards, and she was... almost scathing. Certainly pissy. My respect level for her went right up.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    They had Mike McRoberts talk to Lilian Ng afterwards, and she was... almost scathing. Certainly pissy. My respect level for her went right up.

    That's fucking awesome. I'd be very happy to see more of that sort of thing.
    (I think I might have seen a spoiler for that, picked up on the not actually autistic bit, and then didn't watch).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That's fucking awesome.

    Yep, that's good.

    That vaccine compensation story was reported badly nearly everywhere. The young woman compensated suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccine that left her with some symptoms that were like some of those of autism. It wasn't anything like "proof that vaccines cause autism".

    Meanwhile, sadly, Obama and Clinton have joined McCain in paying lip service to pseudoscience with respect to this issue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Meanwhile, sadly, Obama and Clinton have joined McCain in paying lip service to pseudoscience with respect to this issue.

    Blech. I especially like the bit at the end of that link

    'Of course, "calling for more research" is the cop-out that all politicians use whenever there's an issue that is contentious'(onegoodmove)

    This is also the default cop-out at the end of an undergraduate student essay. Rather than attempt to synthesise, they call for more research :)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

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