John Oliver Explains How News Agencies Mispublish Scientific Reports
When it comes to scientific publications, we know that research alone cannot be trusted. So why do we keep hearing unnecessary stories about outlandish scientific claims? John Oliver explains this in Last Week Tonight.
As explained in the video above, most sloppy scientific reports don’t work because research is published without context. An isolated study in rats does not mean that champagne can prevent dementia in humans. Likewise, a single study conducted with just 20 people cannot by itself be representative of the general population. Science just doesn’t work.
This is how news works, however. If one study suggests a sensational statement might be true, it can quickly become a headline. As soon as one news outlet brings up the story, others follow suit until the noise drowns out any attempt to correct the story. Some news outlets may be pushing for a stricter scientific reporting process (you can check Lifehacker’s scientific reporting guidelines here ), but in general, if you see an article where claims are based on “new research,” it’s probably better. him with a healthy dose of skepticism.