This is a re-print of an older post I wrote, but I thought it was timely because of this recent article in the New York Times.
The news is full of attention-grabbing headlines: Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity, Study Finds That School Junk Food Doesn’t Lead To Childhood Obesity, and Obesity rate exaggerated to name a few. Although news sources are supposed to be objective, are you noticing a trend? Just a few years ago, food deserts and school junk food were in the news as causes of obesity, and current news can't seem to stop discussing the skyrocketing obesity rate.
- How reliable is the source of the claim?
- Does the source make similar claims?
- Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
- Does the claim fit with the way the world works?
- Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
- Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
- Is the source playing by the rules of science?
- Is the claimant providing positive evidence or just denying evidence?
- Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
- Are personal beliefs driving the claim?
- Skip the headline.
- What is the basis of the article? (A study, a review, personal experience, opinion?)
- Look at the words in the article. (Correlation does not mean causation - are they using correlative words?)
- Look at the original source of the information.
- Remember that every single person involved in what you're reading is seeking some kind of return. (Advertisers, click-throughs, etc.)
- Ask a scientist.
Filed under: Food News