How The Press Misinterprets Scientific Studies
from the dream-recording-machines dept
There’s an absolutely awesome comic by Jorge Cham of PhDComics (which you should read whether or not you’re a PhD student) about the science news cycle, in which a nuanced scientific result showing a slight correlation is turned into a causal relationship by the press, leading to a flat out frenzy of others in the press who don’t even bother to understand what the original research was about.
Click image to see full version
You can see the original Nature story here, followed by the BBC piece that focuses on dreams, even though that’s not in the actual research. At least it admits that such things are far, far away. Others in the press weren’t so careful. There are plenty of other such reports, but my favorite may be Metro in the UK that claims we’re on the “brink” of recording people’s dreams, despite that not being even close to true. For what it’s worth, it appears some sources, such as Reuters did not parrot the dream recording angle, but plenty did.
It’s a pretty good reminder that, especially when it comes to scientific research, you really shouldn’t believe everything you read.
Oh, and as a random aside, while this story from Moran is entertaining, it does not come close in entertainment value to this other story that Cerf told at a different Moth event about his life as a bank robber. Seriously. No matter what you’re doing today, find ten minutes to watch this next video: