Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

News & Numbers

"News & Numbers"—a guidebook for reporting statistical claims and controversies in health and other fields—is now available in a third, updated edition. CASW played a major role in supporting the late Victor Cohn, a veteran Washington Post science writer, when he produced the first edition in 1989.

This sourcebook for science writers explains how to judge all types of scientific studies, with the emphasis on clear thinking rather than the math.

This latest edition has expanded sections on how to judge risk assessments, health costs and many other types of numbers-in-the-news. These range from political polls, to environmental assessments, to hot-button issues like tax spending for sports stadiums.

The book is chock-full of examples, with an emphasis on the questions that journalists should ask. It also is used as a college journalism textbook.

Lewis Cope, a science writer who wrote for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and now serves on the CASW board, worked on both the second and this latest edition.

Cohn was one of the founders of CASW, which presents the annual Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. Cohn's daughter, Deborah Cohn Runkle, helped with the latest edition.

The book is published by Wiley-Blackwell. The third edition is available in paperback, hardback and an electronic edition, from Amazon and other sources.