Today, with the amount of information out there in various means of media and networks, adults and children alike need to be able to:
- filter information,
- select right from wrong,
- prioritize what to read, and
- know what to trust
When it comes to medical research that is reported, do your homework:
- ask for references,
- is it published in peer reviewed journals or conference proceedings?
- Ask a doctor or scientist to explain the information you read and verify whether it is true.
Never forget, research reporting is like the blind men and the elephant (*see poem below). The truth is somewhere … but what is reported may be an inaccurate or maybe even wrong interpretation. Sometimes, as in the poem, no one may be completely correct, and everyone may be wrong! Some scientific observations are simply coincidence. Let’s say a report says about a man who has hearing trouble that “he ate ice cream daily and he developed deafness”… well, the two facts may or may not be related. Media can report this as — “eating ice cream daily can cause deafness in some people!” However, to truly draw an association requires a cause-and-effect study in which say, a number of people are either fed ice cream daily for a period of time, or fed no ice cream, and their hearing is checked. Now confounding factors have to be accounted for – could it just be cold temperature? Or maybe any milk product will do? How about anything sweet… Perhaps there will be no difference between ice cream eaters and non ice cream eaters in hearing loss. You see? Many, many more studies need to be conducted on a larger scale to draw closer to the truth. So take it all with a pinch of salt! Oh, and keep working with me to bridge the gap…
*The Blind Men and the Elephant
|by John Godfrey Saxe