A Vasectomy May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

July 21, 2014

NY Times Piece: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/a-vasectomy-may-increase-prostate-cancer-risk/?_php=true&_type=blogs&ref=science&_r=0


Primary Source: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2014/07/02/JCO.2013.54.8446.abstract


Summary of the popular media piece


This article, published by New York Times, discussed a study reviewed by Harvard researchers regarding the possibility of vasectomies leading to an increased risk of prostate cancer. The article briefly described that researchers looked at 49,405 men of whom 12,321 had vasectomies. The article continued with the data that 6,023 of these men had prostate cancer. This piece also mentions the opposing side, which other researchers believe that there is no link between having a vasectomy and prostate cancer. It ends with another researcher at Harvard saying that even though this study may very well prove to show a link between the two, she would never advise against a vasectomy because of it.


Summary of the actual findings


The published study was actually surprisingly brief in the findings. The purpose of this study was to analyze claims that having a vasectomy leads to a higher risk of prostate cancer. 49,405 men were tracked from 1986-2010. 25% of these men had vasectomies and of the total amount of men, 6,023 had prostate cancer including 811 lethal cases. The researchers sued cox proportional hazards to determine the relative risk for prostate cancer and used the following scale to rate the severeness: advanced, high grade and lethal disease. The findings were that a vasectomy was indeed associated with a small increased risk of prostate cancer in the high grade and lethal disease form. It was proven that vasectomy was not, in fact, associated with a risk of low-grade prostate cancer. Other analysis concluded that there were no other factors that could have led to the increased risk of prostate cancer.


Do you think the popular piece accurately reflect the scientific finding?

I think that NY Times did a good job with reflecting the findings of the study done by Harvard. The facts were accurate and the important findings were able to be understood clearly by the reader. The article also does a good job in keeping neutral and getting the viewpoint of the other side of researchers who do not believe that there is a connection between having a vasectomy and an increased risk of prostate cancer.


How are these two different?


The study abstract obviously focused on the actual scientific study findings. The study was more descript in describing the process of the study and more detailed in the findings. In the popular media piece, however, there was an equal amount of facts and professional opinions not necessarily based on facts. In addition, the NY Times piece was less detailed about the findings and the actual process of the study.


What were the aspects that were exaggerated or misrepresented?
Despite the simplicity of the facts described in the NY Times piece, after reading it carefully and comparing it to the study, there were no glaring exaggerations or misrepresentations from the study.


How would you improve the popular media piece?


I would improve the popular media piece by being more detailed about the actual study (findings, process etc) and having less “opinion-like” quotes.



Research Activity

July 20, 2014

CNN article: “Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy May Increase Autism Risk”

Secondary source:


Primary Source:  


Summary of CNN article:

The article published on CNN summarizes the findings of a research team at UC Davis that discovered that expectant mothers exposed to agricultural pesticides may put their children at a greater risk for autism. The article briefly describes that the researchers looked at the medical records of 970 women and found that pregnant women were 2/3 as likely to give birth to autistic children if they lived within a mile within range of an area that was treated with three different types of pesticides: organophosphates, pyrtheroids, and carbamates. The areas included parks, golf courses, fields, and roadsides. The article then says that, along with those findings, the study also proved that women exposed to pesticides during the second and third trimester of pregnancy are even more likely to give birth to a child with autism of developmental delays.

Summary of Primary Source: 

The primary post focuses on not only their own findings, but also a lot of the other evidence that had been previously discovered that linked an increase in autism to exposure to pesticides. Then, in the method, the paper goes into detail about the CHARGE study (the name of the study itself, that the CNN article did not mention), an ongoing study that has enrolled over 1,000 children whose mothers answer questions about possible exposure to pesticides during their pregnancy. CHARGE found that organophosphate was the most common pesticide found near homes of the pregnant mothers. The study also found that children with autism were 60% more likely to have mothers that were pregnant in homes near organophosphates. Along with this, researchers found that pesticide exposure in women was 26%, while male children were 31%, which means that male children had a slightly greater risk of being exposed to pesticides. Lastly, the researchers found that exposure to two or all three of the pesticides did not contribute to a greater risk of autism than exposure to one single pesticide did.

Do you think this popular piece accurately represents the scientific finding? 

I think that CNN did a moderate job in presenting the information. While they were very brief, and did not even mention the name of the study nor some of the lesser important statistics, they still presented the information fairly accurately and objectively. CNN did not over-exaggerate or get the general research findings wrong.

How are these two different?

The CNN article was very brief in presenting the information and did not give any background information on the study or how it took place. The primary paper described the exact process of selecting participants, how they were studied, and a surplus of additional information including statistics, background information, and past research on the subject.

Where are the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented?

CNN stated that the researchers looked at 970 medical records of the participants. However, in the primary source, nothing is stated about that. In fact, the primary source says that they studied over 1,000 children and the mothers filled out questionnaires. Having a participant fill out a questionnaire is much different from checking their medical records.

How would you improve the popular media piece?

To improve the CNN article, I would start by actually giving the name of the study (CHARGE). Then, I would correctly summarize the process in which the researchers studied the subjects and get rid of the false “970 statistic.”  Finally, I would remove the section of the article that talks about a link between race and autism because it is not the primary subject of the article (after all, the title says nothing about race and autism).

Injection “reverses” symptoms of type II diabetes

July 20, 2014


There is currently no cure for type 2 diabetes, a disease where the body begins to resist the effects of insulin, causing glucose levels in the bloodstream to become dangerously high. Drugs called thiazolidinediones can cause the body to respond normally to insulin, but there are numerous side effects associated with them. This particular study, led by Michael Downes and Ronald Evans, sought to investigate the effects of a protein called fibroglast growth factor 1 (FGF1). When FGF1 was injected into the bloodstream of mice with diabetes, it was shown to have a significant glucose lowering effect. And even at higher doses, the mice didn’t experience the accompanying side effects. The scientists also showed that FGF1 works in conjunction with insulin (it had no effect in mice who didn’t produce insulin at all). However, they have yet to figure out the exact mechanism for how FGF1 works.


The title of the article itself is “Endocrinization of FGF1 produces a neomorphic and potent insulin sensitizer.” This basically means: when the protein FGF1 is injected into the bloodstream, it helps the mouse become more sensitive to insulin (and therefore break down more glucose, reversing the pattern of diabetes). “Neomorphic” means that FGF1 actually causes a change in the genetic makeup of the mouse.

A single dose of recombinant FGF1 lowers glucose levels in mice through insulin. Chronic treatment with recombinant FGF1 helps the body achieve glucose uptake into skeletal muscle and suppresses the liver’s production of glucose (two things that diabetic patients struggle with). The side effects of weight gain, liver steatosis (excess fat), bone loss, and hypoglycemia (with larger doses) were not witnessed in the mice. Also, FGF1 is not dependent on mitogenic (cell division) activity; rather, the glucose-lowering activity is mediated by FGF receptor 1.


The popular piece actually reflects the scientific study quite well. The writers of the popular piece carefully reference specific findings in the study. The specificity of the popular piece was what made it feel more accurate—there was little room to “stretch” the facts. For instance, the popular piece describes how mice reacted both to single doses and chronic treatment. The scientific study contains the same information. The popular piece mentions certain side effects usually associated with diabetes treatment that were not witnessed in the experiment: weight gain, bone loss, etc. The scientific study contains the same information. Also, the popular piece accurately conveys the scope/significance of the study, mentioning that 1) the findings are still preliminary, 2) they don’t know how exactly FGF1 works, and 3) this only applies to type II diabetes. Still, the popular piece does agree with the study that, “FGF1 [has] therapeutic potential for the treatment of insulin resistance”.

The popular piece and the scientific study have several differences in their style and overall presentation. The main difference is that the popular piece is more general and summative, while the study is more specific. The popular piece is relatively vague about how FGF1 functions, but the study clearly states that FGF1 is an “autocrine/panacrine regulator whose binding to heparin sulphate proteoglycans effectively precludes its circulation.” Clearly, one needs to use Google to totally understand what the study is talking about. The popular piece, on the other hand, uses vernacular language. In addition, the popular piece includes background information (e.g what is type II diabetes, what are the existing treatments) while the study assumes prior knowledge on the subject.

The chief way the popular piece exaggerated the study is through its catchy title. The title is clearly designed to catch people’s attention and bait them to click on the link. The title “one injection reverses diabetes symptoms without side effects” and “scientists have developed an injection that can ‘reverse’ diabetes” are purposely misleading. First of all, the findings are only preliminary, and much more research has to be done before FGF1 can be used to treat diabetes in the general population. Secondly, FGF1 treatment only works for mice and has yet to be verified for humans. Thirdly, one injection only reverses the symptoms, it does not eradicate the disease itself. Fourthly, the injection does nothing to ameliorate the symptoms for type I diabetes, only type II.

To improve the popular media piece, I would give it a new, less extreme title. I would also explain how FGF1 is neomorphic (and what neomorphic means).

Research Exercise

July 20, 2014

BBC Article Title: Do Friends Have Similar Genomes?

Secondary piece URL:


Primary piece URL:


Summary of BBC Article:

This article describes the findings of a study that claims on average, friends share 0.1% more DNA than they do with strangers. The study analyzed nearly 500,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms in the genomes of the participants of the Framingham Heart Study. The article includes quotes from the authors who explain their conclusions and also statements from scientists who are skeptical of the implications for the data that the two authors of the study, Christakis and Fowler, collected. With data collected from a  small community in the United States, the authors calculated a kinship coefficient, which they found to be slightly higher amongst friends than strangers. Scientists such as Bowden and Charney suggest that there are other factors that affect these results, like types of population stratification, which could be confounding. Charney says that it is not a safe assumption that everyone in the study was not related, which if they were, the results would not be meaningful. However, Fowler claims that they excluded all people that were related. Charney also points out that the method of the study may not be able to account for factors that lead to friendship that would also lead to a correlation in genotype.

Primary Source Summary:

The article claims that ‘”friends’ genotypes at the single nucleotide polymorphism level tend to be positively correlated,” or homophilic, and that certain genotypes among friends tend to be negatively correlated, such as the immune system gene set.  They then suggest that, because hemophilic genotypes equate to positive selection, hemophilic genotypes may behold a fitness advantage in human evolution, yet it is unknown what role genotypic correlation plays.The authors propose four reasons why people may tend to interact with people who have more similar genes to them than they do with a stranger and a smaller number of reasons why friends may exhibit heterophily in their genotypes.The scientists analyzed 466,608 SNPs in 1,932 subjects who were in one or more of 1,367 friendship pairs. They claim to have used strict control for population stratification for their final results, as they did not at first. Density plots show that friends have significantly higher kinship coefficients than strangers and that friends also have lower proportions of opposite genotypes. In a Genome-wide association study with strict control for population stratification, friends had more homophily and heterophily than strangers. In the conclusion of the article, the authors suggest that human evolution may be accelerating because the genes of people surrounding an individual may affect the fitness advantages of the individual’s own genes and people frequently interact with non-relatives.


The information in the BBC article technically did make false claims, but it left out a few point present in the primary article that I think were important to understanding the implications and methods of the study. So, BBC did an average job of reflecting on the scientific finding. For obvious reasons, the BBC article hardly contains any data regarding the study and mainly focuses on the perspective of skeptics of the authoring scientists and the study at hand. The BBC article did not mention anything about what the finding might suggest about human evolution, which was a central theme in the scientific paper. Also, the BBC article did not mention the negatively and positively correlated genotypes present among friends, which may have made the study seem more well-rounded and thorough if included. I would improve the BBC article by talking more about the methods and data that the authors collected and also that they aren’t making concrete far-fetched conclusions about their findings. I think that the aspect of human evolution, which was the main theme in the conclusions drawn from the data, was very underrepresented. Instead of criticizing the methods of data collection, which were clear-cut in the real article, the BBC article could have talked about how the finding that friends have more similar DNA than strangers may be an agent of human evolution. To me, this would have made the article a lot more interesting and relevant.


Research Exercise

July 19, 2014

Secondary Literature


This article talked about a study that found that depression is a risk factor for heart disease, especially in young women. According to the study results, depressed women under the age of 55 were twice as likely to have a heart attack or die of heart disease in the next few years. These results were not the same for women over 55. A suggested reason for this is that when people get depressed, they stop taking care of themselves and get sick; the article notes that when sick people stop taking care of themselves, they get depressed. It is difficult to determine which came first. The articles also states that the results of another study support the first one. The end of the article offers advice to get help for depression.

Primary Literature


The primary literature was the study that the most of the article focuses on. The study first states that young women with coronary artery disease (CAD) have higher rates of depression and higher risk of adverse events than men of similar age. It identifies its goal as identifying whether depression in young women is associated with higher risk of CAD than in older women and similarly aged men. Patients who were undergoing surgery for CAD were given a Patient Health Questionnaire to assess their mental state. The study found that depression was associated with CAD in women less than 55 years, but not in men less than 55 years. Depression was also associated with increased risk of death in women less than 55 years, but not in men less than 55 years and women more than 55 years old. The study concluded that depressive symptoms are associated with increased risk of death, particularly in young women.

Do you think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding?

I do think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding. The popular piece mentions various, accurate statistics from the study. There are also comments from the author of the study that elaborate on the results of his study, and those comments are accurate as well. However, these additional comments take away from the results of the study. They are more speculative than proven, which is a little confusing. The popular piece mentions the methodology accurately and simply, as well. Overall, it is an accurate representation of the scientific finding.

How are these two different?

The study is far more specific and detailed than the article. One area where this is obvious is in statistical analysis, the scientific finding states specific statistics such as confidence intervals and p-values, but the popular piece does not mention any of these. However, people who have not taken a statistics course may not understand these numbers. The popular media piece does not provide any graphs or tables or specific numbers from these either. Also, the scientific finding goes into far more detail about the methodology and results.

Where are the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented?

I think there are aspects of the scientific finding misrepresented when the author of the popular piece discusses the author of the study’s thoughts. The popular piece mentions that Dr. Shah, author of the study, believes there is a biological reason for the results of the study, but is unsure of the exact reason. In the article, they speculate about the biological reason behind the results, which misrepresents the true findings of the study and the conclusions that can be drawn from it.

How would you improve the popular media piece?

To improve the popular media piece, I would first remove the section where they speculate on the biological reasoning behind the study results. This will make the article more clear and a better representation of the scientific study. I would also remove the mention of a second, separate study. It would be better for this article to focus on one specific study and give more details for that study alone.

Research Exercise: Waiting in Line

July 19, 2014

Popular Secondary Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wray-herbert/anticipation-the-psycholo_b_5588654.html

Primary Work: http://pss.sagepub.com

(The primary information was gathered from an online journal, but I was not sure how to enter all of the information in the blog post. This is just a link to the journal’s information)




In this popular science literature piece, “Anticipation: The Psychology of Waiting in Line”, its author, Wray Herbert outlines the scientist, Thomas Gilovich’s work in his experiment. This experiment studied people’s general reactions to waiting in line for possessions versus waiting in line for experiences. The popular article outlined Gilovich’s work, outlining the independent and dependent variables of the experiment and its outcomes.

Herbert wrote that Gilovich was able to discover that, while waiting in line for possessions like technology or furniture, people were more likely to become impatient and unhappy. While waiting in line for experiences like a trip or concert, people were less likely to become impatient and noted feelings of excitement rather than irritation. This significant lack of displeasure towards the anticipation of experiences led Gilovich to try different experiences, as Herbert noted in his review of his work.

Herbert wrote about Gilovich’s findings in his second set of experiments. He said that Gilovich was able to discover a common trend occurring in the involvement of pleasurable or non-pleasurable anticipation while waiting. Gilovich discovered that people who waited for experiences were more likely to be seen displaying good behavior like singing or smiling. Those who waited for possessions were more likely to be met in riots or diplays of unruliness.

In Gilovich’s writing about his findings, he was able to describe in great detail the processes of the experiment. He was able to decisively wrie about the data he collected, as it was his data primarily.

Herbert wrote a generalized article on Gilovich’s work, and talked about most of the key points of the experiment. Herbert’s article was not as in-depth as Gilovich’s study written in Psychological Science, but it was able to mention the most important ideas of the experiment. To a general audience, Herbert was able to clearly articulate the hypothesis, experimentation, and findings of the research.

Gilovich’s experiment and work was much more in-depth than Herbert wrote about in his article. There were procedures and materials that went unmentioned in Herbert’s excerpt. However, these were not necessary to the general public’s understanding of the ideas presented within Gilovich’s experiment. While Gilovich went into much more detail with his description of the aspects of the work, Herbert was able to clearly display their effectiveness in his article.

Gilovich needed to write a more universal, all-consuming piece of literature on his findings in order to render the experiment valid. However, Herbert only needed to articulate the general experiment.

In my opinion, Herbert’s article clearly addresses the experiment in a way that is easily read as well as accurate. It was not Herbert’s intention to give great detail on the experiment’s workings, and his generalized approach to the depiction of Gilovich’s experiment was well written. It is my opinion that Herbert did a good job of outlining the information that Gilovich’s study presented.

If I were to improve the piece of popular science literature, I would write about the controlled variables of the experiment. I would make sure that all aspects of the study were written about generally. I would like to see the article slightly less generalized and more driven towards accurate revelation of data, but I believe the article is a good representation of such, nonetheless.

Study shows fish oil may reduce risk of brain damage in alcoholics

July 19, 2014


•Summary of the popular media piece

          This media piece gives information on the findings of research conducted at Stritch School of Medicine, Chicago (where a meta analysis of 75 different studies was conducted). The article emphasises the extraordinary effects of Omega 3 fish oil, in protecting against neurological damage associated with excessive alcohol abuse (such as alcohol induced dementia). While high levels of alcohol in the body have been found to inflame, or even kill brain cells, the article stresses that the impacts of alcohol on these cells can be avoided by taking Omega 3 fish oil supplements. The article goes on to say that fish oil has the ability to strengthen the brain cells, and preserves “brain integrity”.

  However, the article does end with almost a warning, that in extreme cases of alcoholism, the excessive consumption of alcohol surpasses the limit at which Omega 3 fish oils could potentially be effective, and overwhelms brain cells to the point to which they rapidly inflame, and eventually die.

•A summary of the actual findings from the primary source

      The primary source, in more depth, outlines the findings of the work they conducted at the university (where they used cultures of adult brain cells in rats). The researchers exposed these cultures to very high levels of alcohol ( 4 times the legal driving limit), and then as a comparison exposed the another culture to a compound found in fish oil omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (as well as the alcohol given to the previous culture). They found that 90% of the cultures that were exposed to alcohol and the fish oil, had far fewer neuronal deaths, and less inflammation of the brain cells. However, the article does go on to say that further studies are needed to confirm whether fish oil has the ability to protect against dementia and cognitive injury using adult rodent models, since the observations made were from just cultures of brain cells. The research definitely confirms the potential of fish oil, and one researcher states “At the very least, it is unlikely that it would hurt them.” The principal investigator of this study ( Michael A. Collins, PhD) stresses that fish oil in no way reverses the extreme damage that can arise from alcohol abuse, and that people should no go on drinking copious amounts of alcohol since they are taking fish oil supplements, and emphasises that ultimately the most effective way to protect your brain is to cut back on alcohol all together.

◦Do you think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding?

         Overall, I do think that the article from TechTimes does reflect accurately on the scientific findings made at Loyola University Chicago, however the article seems to jump to conclusions while providing limited evidence of the research that allowed such conclusions to be drawn, and does not highlight that research needs to continue into this area, so that the true effects of fish oil on the neurological well being of alcohol abusers can be identified.

◦How are these two different?

                    The primary source of this article definitely gives more details into the research carried out, and emphasises the ‘potential’ of fish oil rather than its known effects.

◦Where is the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented?

                 There is slightly more emphasis put on the neurological benefits of fish oil to those who consume high quantities of alcohol (rather than the drawbacks). For example, the article does not point out that more research is required using adult rodent models as opposed to just cell cultures. However, to my surprise I do not think that any aspect of the article has been misrepresented.

◦How would you improve the popular media piece?

            To improve the popular media piece I would like to see more details of  how the research was carried out. For example, details on how many cell cultures were used to obtain the statistic of 90% less neurological damage than the culture without exposure to Omega-3 fish oil. Also, the age range of the cells used in the research (could young cells possibly resist the effects of alcohol more easily than ageing cells?)

Alzheimer’s Disease

July 19, 2014

Popular (secondary) piece:



Primary Article:



Summary of “5 things you didn’t know about Alzheimer’s”

CNN’s article “ 5 things you didn’t know about Alzheimer’s” discusses the future of Alzheimer’s, how to lower your risk for Alzheimer’s, and the simplicity of detecting Alzheimer’s in the future. Firstly, already about 40 million people live with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Scientists predict that by 2050, almost 115 million people will be living with Alzheimer’s. That means about 1 in 100 people will be living with Alzheimer’s.  In the light of these surprising future growth numbers, the Alzheimer’s Association held a conference in early July to discuss the research. Secondly, the article talks about how many ways you can lower your risk all throughout life. Studies show middle age people benefit greatly from playing games and exercising your mind on a daily basis. Even working out your body can help avoid this disease. A Mayo Clinic study shows that exercising seemed to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s. Lastly, in the future, Alzheimer’s could be very easy to detect. Scientists have seen an odd trend that people who are in the early stages of developing Alzheimer’s have trouble differentiating between odors. A small sniff test could show early Alzheimer’s. “Early detection means early intervention and treatment…”, says the article. This, while not a cure, could take us in a huge step in the fight against Alzheimer’s.



Summary of “Thesis: Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: Current Challenges

This primary source from University of South Florida goes over the differences of dementia and Alzheimer’s, diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and the treatment of the disease. In the opening, the article discusses the possibility of a new diagnosing technique (could be the same technique from the CNN article). According to the passage, 5.3 million Americans are effected by Alzheimer’s today; but no future estimate is given. The first main section talks of the difference of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dementia can be roughly defined as a loss of cognitive ability that is significant enough to affect social interactions. AD ( Alzheimer’s Disease) is a common type of dementia which is created by a build up of plaque in the brain. The second section talks of diagnosis and symptoms. AD can be split up into 3 sections that range from 2 years to 10 years in length. Diagnosing by mere observations can be difficult in the first stage because forgetfulness or slower recall of information is also a natural part of aging. The second, and longest stage, is easily diagnosable and brings a drastic change in life. AD is easily diagnosed by an MRI. Lastly, there is no cure for AD but there are many drugs that slow the progression of the disease and treat symptoms.

o   Do you think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding? I do think that CNN accurately reflected the scientific thesis I found.

o   How are these two different? The CNN article is much easier to read and is most likely for the reading level of someone with absolutely no experience in any science.

o   Where is the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented? I think the CNN article may have exaggerated the future growth of the disease.

o   How would you improve the popular media piece? I actually thought the piece was really well written and well presented. I wouldn’t change much, but if I had to I would give some of the biochemistry behind how AD works.

Research Excercise

July 19, 2014

Popular Media Piece: http://time.com/2978648/organic-food-pesticides-antioxidants/

Time Magazine’s article, “Study: Organic Produce Has Fewer Pesticides, More Antioxidants” states statistics have switching to organic foods is worth it. Often, it is believed that organically grown food is beneficial to one’s health. In comparison to conventionally grown food, organic fruits, vegetables, and grains have substantially higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides. The article was written upon the basis on a new study done at Newcastle University, proving that organic contains 17% more antioxidants than conventional. The new study from the British Nutritional Journal claims that despite popular belief, eating organic foods does not lead to better health.

Primary Source: http://blog.journals.cambridge.org/2014/07/new-study-finds-significant-differences-between-organic-and-non-organic-food/

Based on the actual studies, organically grown crops are 18 to 69% in antioxidants in comparison to conventionally grown foods. The study also done proves that these antioxidants are necessary for the reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers. These crops were also found to be 48% lower in toxic heavy metals. Incidentally, the study does not claim the point of view stated in the secondary article. This study is the first step to figuring out whether or not there are substantially large differences between organic and conventionally frown foods. With the evidence gathered from this study, researchers hope to conduct more studies upon the topic of whether organic foods contribute to a better health.

Do you think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding?

The popular piece does not accurately reflect the scientific finding. The media article had not included that range of percentage of antioxidants. Instead they had given a flat answer, a number below the range as well. The perspective presented in the Time article was confident and unwavering, it suggested that there was a 100% guarantee that the study claimed the eating organic foods were not going to aid the betterment of health. But the study had not claimed that, the only claims made involved the study of antioxidants and the percentage of lower toxic levels. The researcher of the study simply state that there is not enough evidence to prove anything yet. But more studies were going to be conducted upon the basis of a better health.

How are these two different?

These two are different because the original study provides the public with more encouragement to make the switch to eating organic foods. The media article however, takes a firm stand that there is not difference, despite the higher levels of antioxidants found. The information provided in each influences the decision of the public. People are more likely to read media articles instead of actual studies. This will impact the progression of the topic in the future.

Where is the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented?

Time’s article had misinterpreted the statistics and views of the study done at Newcastle University. The numbers given are not reasonable in comparison to the actual study results. The perception of the study is also inaccurately represented in the article. Instead of trying to provide information correctly, the Time article may sway the verdict of the people in the future, when there comes a time to decide between organics conventionalism.

How would you improve the popular media piece?

To improve this popular media piece, I would first start be viewing the actual study. Using correct statistics will also accurately represent the results, instead of providing false information. Also, I think it would be beneficial to write an article or summary based on the study itself. The Time article had actually quoted another secondary article, ‘Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants’ written by the New York Times. Quoting secondary article isn’t effective and may not be accurate.

Research Exercise

July 19, 2014

Popular media article
“Why Coffee Is Good For Many Hispanics’ Health”
This article talks about the study conducted on the effects of coffee in relation to cirrhosis mortality. It focuses on this study in relation with another study, which showed that Hispanics were twice as much vulnerable to chronic liver disease compared to “non-Hispanic whites”. By putting these two studies together, the article is able to make the connection that Hispanics should be drinking two or more cups of coffee per day to reduce their risks of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%. The authors of this piece make it seem as though they have come up with a solution for Hispanics, specifically, regarding this issue.

Primary Literature article
“Coffee, alcohol and other beverages in relation to cirrhosis mortality: The Singapore Chinese Health Study”
This study observes the correlation between coffee consumption as well as the consumption of other beverages, such as black tea, fruit ice, or soft drinks, and the risk of cirrhosis mortality. This research was carried out amongst a population of 63,275 middle-aged and older Chinese subjects. The follow-up check ups resulted in the findings that daily drinkers who drank two or more cups of coffee had a 66% decline in the risk for death from cirrhosis. Other beverages were not associated with the mortality risks of cirrhosis. In conclusion, the study showed that coffee had a positive impact on people with non-viral hepatitis risk of cirrhosis.

Do you think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding?

The popular piece does provide some of the main factual information and findings provided by the study, but does not go further to explain it in the circumstance of the study. On the other hand, the study itself is informative, while clearly explaining its purpose, data, and conclusion. It is not trying to sell its study, which prevents it from making biased and distorted statements. The popular article, however, tries to use the information in the study selectively to formulate a solution to a significant issue, while targeting Hispanic people at risk for cirrhosis.

 How are these two different?
These two pieces are different in that the study focuses solely on its own findings and its data to reach a conclusion, while the popular article connects this study to another to prove its argument and reach its conclusion. Although the two studies were not similar enough to be used in the same context, the popular article made it look as though their solution was justified by simply placing the two studies in the same piece. The audience is going to believe it, because the article has all the information they want to hear. They do not realize the skewed difference between this article and the original study, which prevents them from understanding the information from the study in context.

Where is the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented?

The popular article starts out with, “Are you a Hispanic? Do you like coffee? Well good news, your fondness for that “cup of joe” can be showing you liver some love.” This is a hook that gets people reading such articles, as it addresses someone personally by asking a question. The article goes on to state facts and subsequent interpretations based on the two studies presented in this article. However, the article is is not particularly correct in connecting these two studies. The first study compares the risks for cirrhosis of Hispanics in comparison to non-Hispanic whites. The second study clearly states that, “Limited experimental and epidemiologic data suggest that coffee may reduce hepatic damage in chronic liver disease” The popular article has misinterpreted the context of the study, resulting in an article that promotes coffee amongst the Hispanic population. Coffee could be effective on the Hispanic population, but it is not possible to make such assumptions based on a study on a different population.

 How would you improve the popular media piece?
This popular piece could be improved by firstly changing the misleading title into something more study-centric. Sensationalism does not have to be risked, as appropriate and relevant comparisons can also lead to an engaging article, while simultaneously promoting the study in the right context. Context is extremely essential to evidence, as it is crucial to provide some background information so that the readers can get the complete picture. Many people read only one article on the topic, and that article should be able to give them all the necessary information in a simple but effective manner.