Bad Science Reporting


Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

Related Post Roulette

43 Responses

  1. Glyph says:


    [fills corncob pipe with bacon, lights it up]Report

  2. Oscar Gordon says:

    Ah statistics & context, what kind of BS can’t you spin with them?Report

  3. Damon says:


    We should be ENCOURAGING people to eat this stuff. They die sooner. That combined with limited medical treatments to folks who have these cancers, ’cause it’s their own fault for not eating healthy, we’ll save MASSIVE amounts of cash which we can then use to cover more people so they can get dental and eye care from the ACA. See how it all works?!Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Hitler was a vegetarian who went on to commit suicide.

    If we start extrapolating out from that, there are many conclusions we can reach.Report

  5. Chris says:

    The title of this piece is redundant.Report

  6. The WHO should be able to conclude that the only cause of death is drug abuse.Report

  7. North says:

    Yeah I was seriously considering buying some steak in honor of this announcement.Report

  8. b-psycho says:

    Nuance doesn’t get enough eyeballs. It always has to be “FISH YOUR PLEASURE!! EAT NOTING BUT SPINACH OR YOU WILL DIE MISERABLY!!”

    Eh, I don’t deny the unhealth of the average diet, or of mine. Though when I was doing as close to the right things as I’ve ever done is when I ended up having to fight off the C. I’ve since decided that if DNA is that unpredictable, I’m just going to enjoy what I have left and not care. Death is going to suck anyway, why should life suck too?Report

  9. Roland Dodds says:

    Thank you Patrick. Like most Americans, I would like to interpret your argument in a beneficial way towards my current behavior and not eat 8 hot dogs.Report

  10. Richard Hershberger says:

    I take as a baseline assumption that any journalism that involves percentages, and especially comparing percentages, will be a complete botch. Because math is hard, don’t you know? We can’t be expected to keep straight what we are comparing.Report

  11. trizzlor says:

    You can never shit enough on science journalism, but this story was covered admirably in The Atlantic by Ed Yong. Strength of evidence vs. degree of risk is probably the most important and misunderstood concept in scientific reporting.Report

  12. Aika says:

    In this article, you mentioned that smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker. But according to the CDC website, statistics show that nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20%-30% chance of developing lung cancer. It also shows that secondhand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year.Report