Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW Periscope

There are voices in healthcare that don’t get heard nearly enough; certainly the general public may not even know they exist. That’s understandable in a time when many of us feel swamped by too much information coming at us from too many directions. It can be difficult to sift through all the choices and separate the substantive from... more
Take a guess where these headlines come from: Parkinsonism can be cured Therapeutic use of intermittent fasting for people with Type2 diabetes as an alternative to insulin Although the language wouldn’t be out of place in a supermarket tabloid, these headlines are actually from The BMJ Case Reports journal; more specifically, from a... more
A recent news release from Michigan’s Beaumont Medical Center shared the story of an 8-year-old girl with a brain tumor who traveled from Hawaii to be treated at the hospital’s proton therapy center. Its heart-warming details include how the girl bonded with her medical team, gave them candy from her home state, and hopped onto a... more
Shannon Palus is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, where she primarily covers health tech and personal care. Her freelance work has appeared in Scientific American, Slate, Popular Science, New Scientist, The Atlantic, Discover, and elsewhere. Read her work at and follow her on Twitter @... more
Fifty years ago, in a golden moment of television comedy shows, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In program regularly featured “The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” award.  Wikipedia says it “recognized actual dubious achievements by public individuals or institutions.” Do a Google search.  You’ll quickly see how popular... more
On one recent day – a quite normal day in the life of our team – we watched the latest wave of the tsunami of not-ready-for-primetime medical research news coming in to drown the American public. Jill Adams, who is on the board of the National Association of Science Writers, did her daily search of eligible news... more
A health care message can get polluted, diluted, and distorted by many people as it moves from researchers, through journals and press releases, and ultimately into the news coverage. Here’s an example of what happens when it starts at the source with grandiose language used by the study authors, is perpetuated in newswire/releases and the... more
The story began:  “It is not often that another country beats the US to a medical breakthrough.  So when it happens, you know it’s something special.” But buyer beware.  Because it’s not so special when the story is bylined from “The Associated Health Press.” That’s not the venerable Associated Press wire... more
Using cancer as clickbait is ubiquitous and worrisome. It’s one thing to highlight studies that represent genuine progress, and quite another to write hopeful headlines about studies that are clearly not ready for prime time. Such is the case with 4 of the stories we feature below. It may seem like too widespread a problem to have an impact... more
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