Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW Periscope

Some cancer centers are misleading the public by advertising clinical trials as a way for patients to access cutting-edge treatments, two ethics professors argue in a paper published today. Billboards like this one imply that clinical trials amount to a patient benefit, two ethicists say. Alex John London, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University and... more
We’ve been critical in the past of HealthDay’s practice of rehashing news releases and presenting them to readers as journalism. Now they’ve sunk to a new low: re-posting news releases from an advocacy group verbatim without any acknowledgment that the content is public relations material. It’s shovelware, plain and simple... more
A chemical compound can “reverse aging” in mice, many news outlets recently reported, including ABC News, TIME, STAT, and The Boston Globe. “Reports have suggested that this might someday lead to a new drug for human use,” ABC News speculated. The Boston Globe told us the lead scientist thinks the compound “could not... more
On Monday, the New York Times “Well” section published this column by Jane Brody: The Value and Limitations of a Cardiac Calcium Scan (The headline was later changed to ‘One More Heart Test to Consider: A Calcium Scan’) Coronary calcium scan promotion from Riverside Heart & Vascular Institute in Chicago It caught our... more
Courtesy of Rebecca BoyleRebecca Boyle Earth has a memory problem. Few rocks have survived from the first billion years of the planet’s history, when all kinds of important things happened, including—perhaps—the first stirrings of life. This amnesia has made it hard for researchers to piece together our origin story, and answer the really big... more
The following guest post is by Jeanne Lenzer, an award-winning independent medical investigative journalist and author of The danger within us: America’s untested, unregulated medical device industry and one man’s battle to survive it. She is a longtime contributor to The BMJ  and her articles have appeared in outlets such as the... more
Full disclosure: there is no theme that neatly ties together all the fantastic stories our staff have picked out for this 5-Star Friday. It’s an incredible smörgåsbord which, if nothing else, serves as a reminder of just how vast the health care beat is. There’s some really provocative reporting and writing here. Have a look and, if... more
A recent New York Times story decrying limited uptake of a clot-busting drug for stroke pigeonholed skeptics of the treatment as ill-informed “naysayers” while deeming the drug’s boosters to be “experts.” At the same time, the story didn’t acknowledge the heavy hand of industry funding that has influenced... more
Last year it was this: “The Mesentery: A ‘new’ organ you didn’t know you had” (CNN) This week it’s this: “The Interstitium, the largest organ we never knew we had” (The Daily Beast) “New organ called ‘interstitium’ may explain how cancer spreads” (Fox News) “New human... more
On the surface, this headline from looks like a good thing: It’s news about an experimental drug that shows promise in treating a severe form of MS. And the information has been fact-checked to boot. Both good things, right? But the story didn’t include key details like side effects, and it used a quote lifted directly... more