Why You Can’t Depend On The Press For Science Reporting

I admit that the title of this post is a little inflammatory, but it’s frustrating when reporters call for input and then proceed to write unbalanced accounts of pseudoscientific practices. A case in point – my last post described a conversation I had with a reporter about energy medicine. My interviewee was very nice and seemed to “track” with me on what I was saying. I did my level best to be compelling, empathic, and fair – but in the final analysis, not a single word of what I said made it into her article. For fun, I thought you’d like to compare what I said, with the final product.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Disease has always been with us, but modern, Western medicine is only a few hundred years old.

Before germ theory and pharmaceutical research, the human race devised countless strategies to relieve pain, banish illness and prolong life. Southern Marylanders are keeping a few of these ancient disciplines alive, insisting they have much to teach us, even in a scientific age.

The rest of the piece is full of the usual pseudoscientific arguments: anecdotal evidence, mistrust of scientific methods, a call to “open-mindedness,” an emphasis on “natural” as being synonymous with “safe and effective,” and an “everybody’s doing it, even academic medical centers” rationale for adoption. There was no dissenting opinion – just an unquestioning acceptance of energy medicine.

Now to be fair, the reporter told me that she had included a quote from me in her submission, but that the newspaper editors had cut it out of the online version.

Nonetheless, my take home message from the experience is that blogs like Science Based Medicine seem to offer the only guarantee of unedited rational thought on matters of health and medicine. Thank goodness we’re no longer beholden to mainstream media for all our health news and commentary. It is a shame that most consumers get their news from TV and other outlets that don’t seem to maintain a journalistic quality filter.

This is why our work here is so important… because without scientists and healthcare professionals providing a counterpoint to the endless onslaught of superficial and misleading information, our patients won’t stand a chance of discerning the truth. We need more critical thinkers to join the cause, and I hope that more of us will step up to the plate and contribute to outlets like SBM or Better Health. Waiting for reporters to include us in the discourse could take a very long time…

Posted in: Energy Medicine, Science and the Media

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