Research is often misused and misinterpreted by media outlets, especially on the internet. Your extra credit assignment is to find three news stories that might be misleading to the general public. You will write one half page for each article and address three questions: (1) What was the article attempting to say? (2) Why is this claim misleading? (3) How would the research need to change to support the article’s claim? You can be somewhat generous with the term “news stories,” but be sure that it’s not just a personal blog (Buzzfeed is OK). Be sure to include the original articles with your assignment.
The following article is an example of misleading scientific journalism. On the next page you will find a sample write-up for this article. Each article is worth .5% points toward your final grade (similar to .5 SONA credits) and you can complete up to 4. To receive the credit, you must follow all guidelines listed here. Appropriate spelling and grammar are required. You are not required to follow APA style, but you should still write in a professional tone without careless errors. You can copy/paste your articles or include a link to the article. Failure to include your articles will result in no extra credit.
This article states that applying sunscreen to infants will prevent melanoma in adults. The headline uses the word “proves” which is an inappropriate term. One study cannot definitively prove anything in science. Additionally, the article suggests that the study will have major implications for skin cancer in humans. However, the actual experiment involved short-tailed opossums. Without corroborating evidence, the writer’s suggestion that the study’s results will generalize to humans is a bit misguided. In order to support the article’s claims, a similar study would need to be conducted with humans. Researchers could not ethically expose children to carcinogens, so the study would need to be correlational. A correlational study, even with humans, would still not allow the writers to use the word “prove” in the headline. Rather, the writers should use words like “relationship” and “association” when describing the results.