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Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better DecisionsEnvisioning Health Care 2020$
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Gerd Gigerenzer and J.A. Muir Gray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016032

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016032.001.0001

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Statistical Illiteracy in Journalism

Statistical Illiteracy in Journalism

Are Its Days Numbered?

(p.153) 10 Statistical Illiteracy in Journalism
Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Decisions

Bruce Bower

The MIT Press

At a time when financial pressures and a digital revolution threaten the survival of many media outlets, a focus on statistical literacy can improve health and medical reporting and perhaps foster survival-enhancing changes in how the media cover these topics. Journalists often lack knowledge about statistical thinking. First reports of scientific findings, advances in “hot” research fields, and results that contradict previous assumptions draw special attention from the media, but underlying statistical problems and uncertainties in such studies are rarely mentioned in news stories. Clinical trials, significance testing, and meta-analyses create particular confusion for journalists. Possible ways to remedy this problem include early statistical education, professional development courses, online assistance sites, and efforts to use personal stories to illuminate the predictive value of medical tests.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, clinical trials, medical reporting, professional development, risk aversion, statistical education, statistical literacy, scientific misinformation

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