Something I read in the news every day

There is a type of story I routinely see in the news. Allow me to paraphrase:

“For years we said it was good for you, but we just found out it actually breeds parasites in your colon, our bad.”

This is usually the result of some reporter trying to get a catchy headline out of a scientific/medical news release he/she doesn’t understand.

Lately in the Times: “Exercise: Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight and Isn’t Actually as Good as We Thought it Was.”

Take it from me.

Don’t take anything about health you hear or read in the media at face value. Most of my esteemed colleagues can’t balance their chequebook, so don’t expect them to understand anything about science/math/economics/medicine unless it’s very simple.

Take special note that even when you do come across the rare journalist who can understand, distill, and tell you what this new medical news really means, he’s probably got to deal with an idiot boss saying “You’ve got to include the other side of the story,” even when the other side of the story is some crackpot who doesn’t know a chemical from a chakra.

Best example of this: Ben Goldacre. I adore his column, but sadly he’s a rare voice in the journalistic wilderness.