At Scientific American blogs, Christie Wilcox reports on a PLOS Medicine study that finds that scientists deserve some of the blame--maybe a good bit--when science stories promise the moon. "It’s not all the writers’ fault," Wilcox wrote. When the researchers "examined the language used in press releases and the studies themselves, instead, it was the scientists and their press offices that were largely to blame."
The question was, who was responsible for the spin in science stories? Spin was defined as "specific reporting strategies emphasizing the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment." I'd take issue with that a bit; emphasizing the beneficial effect of a treatment isn't a bad thing unless the limitations and cautions are left out. Nevertheless, this is a good dissection of what can sometimes go wrong between the lab bench and the blog post.
Scanning kids' brains
Ingrid Wickelgren, also at Scientific American, writes about a couple of initiatives to collect scans of children's brains to determine what normal brains look like and whether it's possible to spot signs of mental illness using scans. It's the second of two posts on the Child Mind Institute in New York--the first post is here.
At Discover, Ed Yong writes in his Not Exactly Rocket Science blog about a randomized trial using Facebook to determine the effectiveness of messages encouraging people to express their desire to vote. A single Facebook message rippling through the network, it turned out, was said to have generated tens of thousands of votes. (Circulate this result only to members of your political party. Don't let the other guys find out.) The AP's Seth Borenstein also does a nice turn on this story.http://www.seattlepi.com/business/article/Facebook-friends-get-out-the-vote-in-large-numbers-3859911.php
(Updates with AP story on voting.)