06
Jul
13

Some Horrible Science Journalism, or “You shouldn’t write about science and medicine if you don’t have a basic grasp for how science works.”

Autism May Start in The Gut, Study Finds – Autism Center – Everyday Health.

So basically, the above article is a pile of horseshit that completely perverts the study that was actually done. I’m absolutely disgusted and enraged reading it.

The basic finding of the ACTUAL research is that there a decrease in the diversity of intestinal flora in people on the autism spectrum, and the researchers believe that it may play a part in why autistics suffer from a lot gastrointestinal disturbances. What the article implies, however, is that somehow a change in intestinal flora is RESPONSIBLE and CAUSATIVE of the autism, and that perhaps by fixing this problem, we could cure autism. This is NEVER discussed by the researchers in their publication, and it doesn’t even make sense from a medical/science standpoint.

I have a lot anger and frustration at science journalism in the US, particularly when it comes to medical research. There is a constant tendency to over-read the research findings, draw false implications, and fail to understand the extremely basic premise that correlation does not equal causation. It’s a sensational form of journalism, and it’s wholly inappropriate for medical journalism. The public as a whole does not have the background to read the research itself, and when the data is sensationalized, you can create all kinds of public health scares and complications for the medical community.

But with autism, I think there’s an even bigger problem. Parents are often desperate for any explanation for why their children are autistic, and it’s already incredibly challenging to sift through the huge piles of information out there. Sadly, much of the information is misleading bordering on out-and-out falsified bullshit. Articles like this only add to that complication. And it really takes away from the fact that this IS a pretty major step forward. There are a number of unusual physical maladies that plague the ASD community, and GI problems are chief among them. If this research leads to a way to reduce just the GI problems that we have, that’s a wonderful thing and it will improve our lives. There’s no need to dig deep for false hope for some sort of miracle cure to come out of it.

When it come to science journalism, let’s stick to facts and appropriate conclusions and not twist the words of the researchers to fit the narrative you’re looking for.

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A blog about nerdy things, feminist thoughts, and queer/trans life. It's full of rants, opinions, and personal stories. I don't claim to speak for absolutely anyone but myself. Read at your own risk.

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