Free Markets, Free People


How are you supposed to stay informed when the media doesn’t do its job?

Headline:

Study: Flu medications could spread sickness

Body:

WASHINGTON – Could cold and flu drugs help spread the flu? Some researchers think so.

Over-the-counter cold and flu drugs contain ibuprofen, acetaminophen or other drugs that can reduce fever. When patients’ fever is down, they tend to feel better.

But researchers at Canada’s McMaster University concluded that when some patients reduce their symptoms with cold and flu medications, they feel better and return to work or school while still infected. While patients feel fine, they are still able to infect others, according to the study, which is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Real answer:  Researchers aren’t saying that at all newspeople.  What they’re saying is if people have the flu, are still contageous, but are made to feel better enough by medicine to go to work, THEY may spread the flu, for heaven sake.

When I read the headline, I was actually thinking they were talking about the flu vaccine. That actually might make some sense. Instead we get this non-report report – and abysmal framing of the study.  So bad they have to point out:

“We aren’t saying don’t take medication. That’s not the message,” David Earn, who specializes in mathematics and disease, said to NBC News. “Be aware that if you take this medication, there is this effective increase in transmission.”

No there isn’t an “effective increase in transmission” if you take the meds.  There’s a POSSIBILITY of an increase in transmission if you feel well enough (and are foolish enough) to go out into public while you’re still contageous.

This pretty well demonstrates the state of science reporting in the media today.   And they wonder why we don’t buy into the global warming hype?

~McQ

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14 Responses to How are you supposed to stay informed when the media doesn’t do its job?

  • “Stupid people could carelessly increase flu outbreaks”

    How hard is that?

  • I wonder what percentage of journalism majors takes and passes a real first year calculus course? (By “real”, I mean “not the dumbed down version for social science majors”.)

    Because understanding epidemiology requires some intuitive feel for the rate-of-change concepts taught in calculus. So does the understanding of debt curves, anything about environmental science, marginal cost in business, risk curves in finance, and many other things that shape our lives.

    Perhaps some journalism researcher should take one that project. I’ll go ahead and put $100 on the table and venture that it’s less than 2%. And that the number of journalism students who get through second year calculus (including differential equations) is so small it can’t be sampled reliably.*

    * Which brings me to their lack of comprehension concerning statistics….

    • When I was in college, the math department had the course benignly called “Algebra.”  The math majors would laugh if you talked about it.
      Remember all those proofs in your Calculus book that the professor did part of in the lecture (but always cut out early on) that end with QED.
      “Algebra” was all those proofs in their complete form .. done by you.

      • Yes. My college labeled it “Abstract Algebra” to avoid the confusion. If it were just called Algebra, I can just imagine some clueless humanities major registering for it to get their math credit, and sitting in the first lecture thinking they must have wandered into a course on ancient Sanskrit.

    • How ’bout biology?  Chemistry?  Physics?

      Naw.  Making them take that stuff would be mean, and seriously cut into their boozing and drug consumption.

      • Well, if they can’t hack the math, physics is right out, and chemistry is going to be tough.

        They could memorize their way through a lot of biology, and it would certainly help with their abysmal ignorance. But I’d rather see some creative ways to abate it.

        Say, by requiring them to play and win a high difficulty game of Civilization, which would require them to grasp basic strategy and resource optimization. My son won his first such game at 8, and it paid off when he got his first overview of WWII watching World At War. In the episode discussing appeasement of Hitler, he said “That’s stupid. It will just cause him to attack.”

        I doubt that the typical J-school graduate *ever* got to such a level of intuitive understanding about wars and conflicts. But they report on them all time….

        • Yep.  Plus, your son’s level of understanding would cause serious dissonance with the Collectivist dogma being poured into the J-schooler’s ears.

          It could cost them SERIOUS grade points, if they let it out in the open, to say nothing of friendships and romantic interests.

          • “Yep.  Plus, your son’s level of understanding would cause serious dissonance with the Collectivist dogma being poured into the J-schooler’s ears.”

            Well, that and the idea that he’s playing a game where it’s much easier to conquer the world through aggression than it is to trade or culturally develop your way to world leadership would probably cause them to blow their tiny little head gaskets.


             

    • What is clear is the Media’s job is being the mouthpiece of the Ministry of Propaganda.
      When left to their own devices, you get articles like this one: disjointed, incoherent and ultimately misleading.
      Much like Barry without a teleprompter.

    • The problem with this headline isn’t one of mathematics/probability, it’s one of proper sentence construction.  Most journalists not only fail at comprehending numerical concepts, they also cannot write a coherent sentence.

  • Gentlemen!  I stand before you today and plead with you!

    America’s health is in jeopardy!!!!!   The entire economy is at risk!  Millions of American workers feel the need to take these medications in order to be healthy enough to drag themselves to work at their low paying jobs!
    They feel this way because business owners will not pay them or may even threaten their livelihood if they do not come to work, or if they take more time from work than the employer feels they should, or perhaps if they take time off to care for their poor starving children, beloved same sex partners, elderly parents, or undocumented immigrant friends, relatives or neighbors.   Americans are self medicating, in order to work!   They are doing this because of income inequality, because they do not have health insurance! and because they don’t have access to medical professionals to give them sound advice!

    The bill I am proposing today, backed by Senators Finestone, Shumucker, Bagger and McCrain will restrict the access to these drugs, ensuring they are only prescribed by medical professionals, and furthermore will require business owners of all companies larger than 3 employees to give their workers unlimited time off, with pay, to get better from their colds, flus, gout, lumbago, vapors, consumption, chronic fatigue, or care for those they love who are suffering from those conditions so as to limit the spread of these diseases and maladies.  This bill also provides for an increase in the mandated Federal minimum wage to $500.00/hour so that workers may feel secure when they either contract an illness of this type, or care for their loved ones who have done so.   Furthermore it also provides funding for studies to determine if there is a connection between eating and weight gain or loss and to study the danger the country will tip over, north to south, if there is further emigration from northern states to southern states.

  • Informed? You’re supposed to click the link, see the ads, and buy stuff.
    The headline worked if you reached for the mouse.

  • Any moment now Chancellor Hopenchangen will come and speak to us and let us know that Amerika is ready to rise out of the ruins of…..failed wars…uh….failed investments in green energy….uh…..bailouts…dammit…I mean healthcare legislation….crap.

    Damn you Republicans and your evil progress diverting thought-waves and your attempts at enslavement of women’s wombs!   George Bush!  George Bush!