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From: B. Harris)
Newsgroups: misc.consumers,misc.consumers.frugal-living,talk.politics.medicine,
Subject: Re: MacDonalds verdict was VERY justified  WAS Medicare and Bret's
Date: 25 May 1999 08:28:20 GMT

<E492B2FA3317451C.A24155A801722047.D2F6E506DB5DD134@library-proxy.airne> (Jonathan R. Fox) writes:

>On Mon, 24 May 1999 08:50:46 -0600, "Lech K. Lesiak"
><> wrote:
>>On Sun, 23 May 1999, Jonathan R. Fox wrote:
>>> The news media only presents the sensationalized version of a story.
>>> Do they bother to present a follow-up when their earlier hoots and
>>> hollers turn out to be false? Rarely.
>>This happens in all areas, not just medicine. I'm appalled by some of
>>the Y2K stories I read. The most accurate ones seem to be in the
>>financial section of newspapers. My wife constantly shakes her head as
>>the way legal issues are represented in the media.
>Right -- that was exactly my point.  When you recognize the
>inadequacies in general news reports in your area of expertise, it
>reminds you that the other areas are probably just as poor.
>Jonathan R. Fox, M.D.

   Journalism--- that profession whose business it is to explain that
which it does not personally understand.

   Stockbroker:  Hey, I like that paper!  The financial section is
silly, but I get it to follow the campaign stuff and current events.

    Scientist:  I like it, too.  The science stories are seem to have
been written by some high school student, but they do a great job on
the business market.

    Political analyst:  I really hate the juvenile political coverage,
but they give a lot of good stuff about technology.

    Engineer:  They seem to report the engineering stuff of five years
ago like it came out this week, but I like the stockmarket analysis.

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: A Vaccine for Cervical Cancer / rather, HPV 16, maybe...
Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2002 11:48:18 -0700
Message-ID: <asb2ek$vqc$>

"yelxol" <> wrote in message

> (so far. so good. right? but then...)
> Last week in the New England Journal of Medicine it was reported that
> ANOTHER (caps added) study conducted by Laura Koutsky of the
> University of Washington found early testing of another experimental
> vaccine is 100 per cent effective against HPV, the virus that causes
> cervial cancer.
> (NOTICE 100% effective against HPV...) (What the hell are these people
> trying to accomplish???)


The mysterious They aren't trying to "accomplish" anything, oh paranoid one.
To paraphrase Churchill, never attribute to malice/conspiracy what can be
explained by ignorance or sloth.

The above is merely an example of sloppy reporting, which is the NORM, if
you have any experience with actual reporters, and actual stories of which
you have first had information. I personally have never seen a reporter get
all the substantial facts right, and I've been interviewed a dozen times,
and seen stories about things I had knowledge about, many more times.

Reporters don't get it right for three basic reasons:

1) Rarely are they specialists in the field they report on. They can't be.
The business of journalism is to explain what it personally does not
understand. There are possible remedies for this, but journalists don't
employ them (see below).

2) Journalists are overworked from the viewpoint of how much time it takes
to thoroughly fact-check, since there is no real demand for stories which
are rigorously factual. You won't pay three times as much for a newspaper
which spends three times as long to get each story right, so there isn't one
available. Blame thyself.

3) Last but not least, nearly all publications have rigid policies that
their writers cannot let their information sources see copy prior to
publication, so there is NO chance for the kind of editorial and author
correction which gets the errors out of peer-reviewed scientific
publications. If you're lucky, major publications like Discover Mag will
call you on the phone to "fact check" a few things verbally. That's not a
good method, and even it doesn't happen often. I had Newsweek (which is on a
tighter schedule and doesn't fact check all the time) once spell my name
"Steve Morris" and there's really no excuse for this kind of thing (I was
the major source of info in the short piece they used). But that kind of
thing is common.

Due to a confluence of stuff like the above, it's also common to see
newspapers and news magazines reporting scientific facts that have been
known for years, perhaps decades, as though they were just discovered last
month. The idea that HPV causes most or even all cervical cancer is one of
these things. I learned that cervical cancer was basically a sexually
transmitted disease in medical school 20+ years ago. The work that nailed
this down with tumor genetics has been done since then, but much of it is
still quite old, in scientific terms. All of it was done before there was a
hint that pharmaceutical companies could profit from it (that came THIS
year) but that didn't stop science from accepting it. It may have kept you
the public from learning about it, but that also is nothing new.  Drug
companies selectively educate; live with it. You might actually have to do
something besides watch TV and read newspapers to get a better perspective.
Education costs money, and you want it for free, yet without spin. ROFL.


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