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Media analysis: Why a single study is not the definitive statement on an issue

This morning there is a great piece over on Obesity Panacea in which Travis Saunders looks at the reporting of studies in the media and discusses the problems with treating a single study as the definitive statement on an issue. He writes:

All too frequently, newspapers portray individual studies as the definitive answer on a given topic. This is a problem because most studies are not the definitive answer on anything. That is why researchers are constantly trying to replicate each others’ work.

Just because one study finds a relationship between A and B, does not mean that other studies will be able to replicate that finding, or that it will extend to other situations. On the face of it, this seems like an incredibly obvious statement. And yet it’s something that newspapers often forget, and which I think could have some very negative consequences.

From there, Saunders uses a recent study as an example and dissects the coverage of its publication. He also offers some suggestions for how to improve science coverage in the media. It's a very fine post and well worth your time this morning.

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