Thursday, February 15, 2007

Epidemic of Alarmism?

Interesting paper on how obesity and other health factors are over-reported in relation to their health risks HERE.

Also, from today's Wall Street Journal, the suicide rate among policemen was reported, in USAToday, to be high relative to the general population. However, when you factor in gender and consider that males have a much higher suicide rate and that 88% of policemen are male, the rate for policemen is only slightly above what you would expect.

Here is a quote from the Health article:

"We found that ... the news media's tendency to report more heavily on the most alarmist and individual-blaming scientific studies, and not simply how they frame individual stories, partly explains how the news dramatize and individualize science. ... These findings support the contention that scientists work as "parajournalists" writing their stories  and especially the abstract  with journalists in mind. They then frame their research via press releases and interviews with journalists. A reward structure in which, all things being equal, alarmist studies are more likely to be covered in the media may make scientists even more prone to presenting their findings in the most dramatic light possible."