Health

When correlation does not imply “casualness”

Yesterday, the Daily Mail published a news story with the following headline: “Psychologists warn of ‘casual link’ between internet porn and rise in sex offences”. Hmm, a “casual link” you say? Really?! “Casual”? (Thank you to @EvidenceMatters and @decaux for pointing this out to me on Twitter.) Now, I guess this particular typo […]

A study not worth its salt?

This week’s news that researchers had apparently debunked the link between dietary salt intake and heart disease was surprising to say the least, but for all that it was lapped up enthusiastically by the media. Some headline writers revelled in the newness of the findings: “Scientists shake up what we […]

It’s true, college is a rat race

Earlier this week, a new paper by neuroscientists at Bristol University was covered across several media outlets. Very quickly, a common thread began to emerge through the headlines: “Stress can help when studying for exams” reported the Daily Telegraph; “Last-minute exam stress can actually help students to form stronger memories” […]

The Babel Fish Dilemma: Talking Science with Non-Scientists

Last night I gave a public lecture in Dublin for the Irish Skeptics Society, entitled “The Babel Fish Dilemma: Talking Science with Non-Scientists“. The Irish Skeptics, under the leadership of psychologists Paul O’Donoghue and Nóirín Buckley, have been organizing a public lecture series on science engagement, critical thinking, and skepticism […]

Alcohol causes cancer? If you assume so, yes

Last week, a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) linked alcohol consumption with cancer risk, and duly attracted extensive international media coverage. News outlets around the world keenly reported on the carcinogenic properties of alcohol. This description from BBC News was pretty typical: “A large Europe-wide study in the […]

“Atheists die first”: CNN’s “expert” fights back

This is psychologist, Dr Wendy Walsh, discussing the merits of religion on CNN. Rather melodramatically, she is focusing on the purported advantage of being religious during catastrophic survival situations. According to Walsh, “Most studies on survivors show that the atheists die first“, suggesting that religious people survive longer. This news […]