Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Good Stories, Bad Science: A Guide for Journalists to the Health Claims of "Consumer Activist" Groups

Good Stories, Bad Science: A Guide for Journalists to the Health Claims of "Consumer Activist" Groups
By Ruth Kava, Ph.D., R.D.

Posted: Friday, June 10, 2005

The media frequently report claims by nonprofit consumer groups about alleged health hazards in our food supply and our environment. Often these claims are coupled with suggestions for specific actions to reduce the purported risk of disease or premature death by avoiding or reducing exposure to the allegedly harmful substance.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a consumer education group directed and advised by over 300 leading scientists and physicians, has reviewed many such reports and claims. After carefully considering the scientific evidence, ACSH concludes that it would be in the best interest of the American consumer if the media treated such reports with a greater degree of skepticism than is currently employed.

Supposedly, the public claims and warnings that these activist groups make are based on scientific evidence. But in general, there is no independent peer review of their claims or recommendations. The groups publish the reports themselves, often via press release or paid advertisements. Often, the claims are extrapolations from small studies or animal studies, and lack strong supporting evidence. This is not the way mainstream science works.

(there's plenty more....)

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