John Oliver questioned some scientific research and how media is covering like a “morning show gossip”, during his HBO show Last Week Tonight on Sunday. Oliver highlighted that some misleading studies and their coverage could have consequences like leading people to distrust scientific studies in general.
The Emmy-winning writer mocked in particular about how coffee is the cure for everything but at the same time it can cause people major harm, this is due to several studies that ended up contradicting each other, according to Oliver on his show.
“In just the last few months, we have seen studies about coffee that claim it may reverse the effects of liver damage, help prevent colon cancer, decrease the risk of endometrial cancer, and increase the risk of miscarriage,” Oliver said. “Coffee today is like God in the Old Testament: It will either save you or kill you, depending on how much you believe in its magical powers,” he joked.
As the reason for this kind of misleading research, the comedian said that some scientific are constantly depending on funding that is related to how the results are published. Although, real scientific contributions depend on some fact-checking, which is when another group of scientists tries to replicate the experiment and find similar results.
According to Elizabeth Jorns, Ph.D., from Science Exchange, these replica studies are unfortunately under appreciated in funding and publishing because people do not want to be the second to discover something. This leads, according to Jorns, to have just the exploratory studies that led people and media showing them as a fact when they still have to be proven.
In addition, some studies use samples that do not represent any population in general. For example, the comedian showed a study which said that dehydrated people driving have similarities with intoxicated people driving as well. About 10 men participated in the study, that was funded by the European Hydration Institute, which has received about $7 million from Coca-Cola.
Oliver offered a solution to all the fun scientific facts sources, Trends, Observations, and Dangerous Drivel (TOOD), this is where the format of TED talks meets the intellectual rigor of morning news shows, the comedian said.
During the so-called solution, attractive infomercial-like scientific research was presented by some people who were using a lab coat although they were not actually scientists, because according to one spokesman, using it increased credibility.
Source: Huffington Post