Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW Periscope

Sometimes things are clear as mud. This 5-star Friday is a good example. Take three of our choices below:  drug companies that aren’t drug companies, a tick-borne illness that may or may not be a disease, and the very human urge to be drawn to the repulsive. Other times things are quite clear. As in our the first choice below which reminds... more
A study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) raises important questions about the implications of widespread screening for atrial fibrillation — our most common abnormal heart rhythm (or, “arrhythmia”). Atrial fibrillation (“AF” or “AFib” for short) is an irregular... more
We once again pull back the curtain to let you, the news consumer, learn about another of the behind-the-scenes ways in which the news is made. In a time of increasing competition for news attention, some health/medical/science news purveyors break new ground of questionable ethical practice.  In so doing, they may lure journalists into ethical... more
Courtesy of Linda NordlingLinda Nordling While reporting for Nature about the decolonization of science in post-Apartheid South Africa, science journalist Linda Nordling found herself in an uncomfortable spot. Nordling, a native of Sweden, had long lived in the United Kingdom before making South Africa her home more than a decade ago. She was... more
An ad for the cancer drug Cyramza seen on Twitter. Promoted ads and videos for the cancer drug Cyramza (ramucirumab) began showing up on Twitter in May. They’ve also appeared in print publications. The ads encourage you to read the words of “determined Cyramza patients” whose faces come alive with color as phrases such as “I want to keep a flower... more
  This CNN story reported on a study that found in a survey of Canadian workers, women who reported usually working 45 hours or more per week had a significantly higher risk of diabetes than women working between 35 and 40 hours. So far, so good. The story misfires though when it translates that finding into an ill-advised directive for... more
Check out this misleading headline from the largest funder of cancer research in British Columbia: “We can reduce cancer by 90% by changing our diets” The source is BC Cancer Foundation (the fundraising arm of the BC Cancer Agency); more specifically, Gerry Krystal, PhD, a professor at the University of British Columbia who just... more
We’ve written about how news releases that oversell medical research pollute the stream of public information by spawning news stories that echo hype. Now there’s an effort underway in the UK to reduce the contamination at its source. Launching this month is a labeling system for news releases to help journalists assess how robust... more
If you want to get a sense of how tired readers are of the latest round of headlines pondering the health benefits (or risks) of coffee, then all you need to do is read the replies on this tweet: Coffee is good for you, more science shows. https://t.co/YiZ7yOfItw — NBC News (@NBCNews) July 2, 2018 As a Twitter user named Mark Richardson... more
Space exploration isn’t just a technological story, Carolyn Collins Petersen asserts. Literature and art helped fuel interest, education, and funding. Jules Vernes’ From the Earth to the Moon, one of many examples, inspired future rocket designers. Many Trekkies now work at NASA. In Space Exploration: Past, Present, Future, Peterson examines what... more

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