Vaccines and vaccine hesitancy has been my primary micro-beat since I began working as a full-time health/science journalist, so it’s been interesting to watch how coverage of the topic has evolved over the past decade.
For far too long, false balance was the biggest problem plaguing media coverage of vaccination, a trend that only slowly began fading after The Lancet retracted Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent study. Continue reading
It’s been 15 years since BMJ published the most rigorous type of study there is — a systematic review of randomized controlled trials — to assess the evidence for using a parachute to prevent death and major injury when jumping from a plane. RCTs are considered the gold standard in research, and systematic reviews claim the top spot of the evidence pyramid.
As those familiar with this now-famous study know, the authors of that 2003 Christmas issue study found no RCTs testing of the safety of jumping from an airplane with a parachute. Continue reading
At the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting last fall, I attended a talk by Kevin Powell, M.D., Ph.D., called “Evidence-Based Medicine in a World of Post-Truth and Alternative Facts.”
Despite the title’s allusions, however, the talk did not discuss problems in communicating science or medical findings in today’s media ecosystem. Rather, Powell argued that many of the problems we see in today’s problematic reporting and “fake news” have long existed in medical research — but there are ways to address those problems. Continue reading