STATS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to improving public understanding of science and statistics . Each December STATS issues a list of scientific studies that were mishandled by the media during the preceding year. This year’s “Dubious Data Awards” detailing the worst examples of shoddy science reporting go to:
7. Media Gorge on Obesity! – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report suggesting that a little extra weight may not always be dangerous – which the media trumpeted as proof that the “food police” were dieting us to death. But some of the results were statistically insignificant, and even the CDC didn’t claim they were conclusive.
6. Toothpaste Terror! – After American researchers found that an antibacterial substance found in toothpaste can produce chloroform, the British press published panicky reports that warned of “depression, liver problems and… cancer.” After supermarkets in England began taking toothpaste off their shelves, the American Dental Association pointed out that the effect occurred only in experimental conditions that placed pure forms of the chemical in very hot and heavily chlorinated water – not the way most people brush their teeth.