In today’s guardian, Ben Goldacre, author of the column ‘Bad Science’ reminds us, as usual, to think critically about medical stories in the news. In particular today, he explains the bad science behind two recent sex-specific news stories: “Man Flu is not a Myth: female hormones give women stronger immune systems” (Daily Mail and BBC) and “Smarter Girls have Far Better Sex Lives” (Sun, Mirror, Mail). Both of these stories are apparently covered this week on the NHS’s Choices website, and are, to put it briefly, complete rubbish. Goldacre reminds us
People are interested in finding out about this stuff, for their own health and interest, yet they are routinely fed nonsense by the media. When you mention the web, journalists pretend it’s full of bloggers making stuff up. In reality, there are medical research charities, academics, universities’ press releases, NHS Choices, etc. These organisations might want to think more confidently: with figures like 6 million visitors a month, they are now credible publishers, on a subject where information matters.
*Update: I’ve just realised that the “Behind the Headlines” section of the NHS Choices web site is the bit that Goldacre is talking about. It looks excellent. Here’s a link directly to it.