When Dumb Headlines Hide Smart Health Studies
12 Biggest Duh Health Studies of 2011
With headlines like 'Bullies Target Unpopular Kids' and 'Potato Chips Linked to Weight Gain; Vegetables Not,' it's easy to poke fun at medical research. But it turns out there's still a lot to learn even from what may seem like really obvious findings.
By Jill Provost
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Though we may snicker about health
headlines that tell us something that we thought everyone already knew, or even grumble over wasted taxpayer dollars, researchers say it’s unfair to assume that at least some of these studies aren’t warranted. After all, what reporters choose to write about — and the headlines editors write — doesn’t always represent the full scale of the study, explains Steven Woloshin, MD, professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H. “Just because it makes a snappy headline doesn’t mean that was the main focus” of the research, he says.
Secondly, scientists don’t assume they know how the world works. They rely on their test results to prove it. That’s a good thing, because common knowledge isn’t always correct, says Della Hann, PhD, Deputy Director of the NIH Office of Extramural Research. You’ll recall, after all, that the world was once thought of as being flat. That’s why sometimes it takes proving what we already know to discover something we didn’t.
Here, our favorite “duh” studies of the year so far — and what we might actually learn from them.
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