Headline conveys misinformation

A headline in the Los Angeles Times mistakenly reported a causal relationship based only on correlational data. The headline, “Watching TV shortens life span, study finds,” implies that a factor causes an outcome. However, as is clear in the body of the article by Jeannine Stein: “Researchers found a strong connection between TV hours and death from cardiovascular disease, not just among the overweight and obese, but among people who had a healthy weight and exercised.”

As is true with many tools (see, e.g., the scalpel), language is a powerful tool that can misused. We educators must do a better job of helping students understand the logical relations in statements. To be sure, small slips are bound to occur; as the saying goes, “nobody’s perfect.” Therefore, it’s incumbent on we readers to be alert for misinformation.

Read Ms. Stein’s story about the correlation between inactivity and cardiovascular health.



Filed under Amusements, News, Notes and comments, Running, Skepticism

2 responses to “Headline conveys misinformation

  1. I thought I would point out that the headline writers for newspapers are seldom the reporters.

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