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Exaggeration is Just Part of the Game

The Wall Street Journal published an article titled Academic Medical Centers Often Guilty of Research Hype by Sarah Rubenstein in 2009. Rubenstein discusses an article by Woloshin et al. Press Releases by Academic Medical Centers: Not So Academic? published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Rubenstein:

The media may be guilty of exaggerating the results of medical studies, but academic medical centers that hype the results aren’t blameless themselves . . . The press releases [sent out by academic medical centers] “often promote research that has uncertain relevance to human health and do not provide key facts or acknowledge important limitations.”

Woloshin et al found that 58 out of 200 (29%) press releases by academic medical centers exaggerated the findings’ importance. Rubenstein:

Exaggeration was more common in releases about animal studies than human studies. (Emphasis added.)

No surprise there.


Out of the 200 releases, 195 included quotes from the scientific investigators: 26% of them were “judged to overstate research importance,” the authors write.

As I have said many times, animal use in general, but especially in basic science research, is sold to society on the basis of the mythical ability of animal models to predict human response. While the media is certainly complicit in this, the real blame must rest with the researchers and academic institutions with whom these lies originate and who profit from them.


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