I remember, about a year ago, opening a well known British newspaper to find a picture of an inviting molten volcano chocolate cake featuring in the title something along the lines of ‘scientist say chocolate is good for you’. Reading on you could be easily misled into thinking that eating a bar of chocolate could be guilt free, even a healthy choice. Out of curiosity, I went on to open the actual scientific article, published in plos one, to find out that actually what the scientists were talking about was the health benefit of cocoa and not chocolate in its fatty milky form, let alone the chocolate molten cake which contains plenty of other less than healthy ingredients...
But this is just an example that left me wondering - how much is science mis-cited? How many times is an article only half read, conclusions made and newspaper article written with ‘click bait’ titles to attract people on social media? And does it only happen to articles?
I have had fellow scientists friends being interviewed and their words twisted, or if not twisted, at least cut in a way that they were made to tell a story they didn’t mean to tell...
Am I saying that all journalists are evil people? Not at all!
All I am saying is a warning to all - next time you see a ‘scientific claim’ in the newspaper, one that might seem too good to be true, or maybe one that is a bit controversial (eg some recent statements about climate change) - please go read the real scientific article. Too difficult? Find a friend to explain it to you . And don’t stop at the abstract. Read the intro, try see what methodology was used, then go see the graph and eventually read the discussion - and take conclusion with a pinch of salt!
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