Cancer news: how to recognize a lie?
Cancer is a very topical topic, it is regularly raised in the media. That scientists came up with a new medicine, then, on the contrary, a new tool to someone did not help. Given the prevalence of the disease (almost everyone has either a familiar or familiar friend) news about cancer people perceive emotionally, and these emotions can hinder the work of critical thinking. Sometimes it happens otherwise – a new promising technique is called ” miraculous healing “, and the credibility for it immediately falls. How can you understand whether you should trust this or that news? Several tips have been prepared by the Cancer Research Foundation in the UK (Cancer Research UK).
Look for the answer to the question, where and how the study was conducted. Did it involve cell cultures in the laboratory, mice or humans? All these stages are necessary for drug development, and until the agent shows its safety in the laboratory and on animals , there will be no clinical trials on humans. At each stage, the new drug can work in different ways, so the “magic potion”, tested only in a Petri dish, is not likely to be a cure yet. In addition – how many mice or people participated in the work? 10? 100? 1000? The more – the more reliable the result.
Another important factor. How long did the patients watch? A week? Month? Year ? The longer – the better, because the drugs can have side effects, manifested in the long term. And if the data for the work were taken from long-past studies? The life of mankind is constantly changing, and newer data can be more trustworthy.
There are a huge number of factors that can affect the outcome of the experiment. If we talk about cancer – it can be alcohol, food, physical activity. It is impossible to influence only one variable, in addition, often for scientific works, use the data provided by the participants themselves, and in this information there may be inaccuracies. Something scientists take into account, but the gaps always remain, so long-term observation and a large sample are needed.
From what source did the news arrive? If the World Pillar Association says that pillows are good for health, it does not mean that they are wrong, but still somebody here is obviously an interested party. Read is not only the very news or article, but also expert comments, often one can understand how the results of the work correlate with the already available scientific base. However, experts should also be treated critically .
Scientists prefer to publish their articles in journals that are revised by other scientists, and these articles usually contain enough data to allow other groups to repeat the experiment. Such verification allows the results to be considered reliable. But if the information came from the conference – it is likely that it is still “preliminary”, and the research itself is not yet complete.
One of the favorite tricks. “Pillows double the risk of cancer” – but this risk can be initially, for example, 0.0001%, and with cushions – 0.0002%. Not such a big difference really, the discomfort of the lack of pillows in some people it will outweigh it. It is always worth considering specific data.
All this does not mean that “everyone is lying”, “everything is bad” or something else like that. Nevertheless, if you detach yourself from emotions and view incoming information through the prism of critical thinking, it is possible to distinguish the first steps in any sphere from a real scientific breakthrough.