Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spotting Bad Science: Kindly ignore the playmate and the pediatrician

I refuse to write about the recent op-ed from the Playboy model-cum television host and parenting expert who learned everything she needs to know at Google University and one suspects Hugh Heffner's famed grotto. Girlfriend knows how to get media attention even if it means re-branding herself as a vaccine advocate, a defender of public health who had absolutely nothing to do whatsoever what in the world are you talking about? with the return of measles, an illness that as recently as 1989 to 1991 sickened thousands while killing 123 kids in the US.

I also refuse to write about the Santa Monica-based celebrity pediatrician who supports vaccines in general (i.e. in theory if not practice) but doesn't recommend the MMR and sent a letter to his families that they needn't vaccinate against measles or worry about the current outbreak in California.

Instead thanks to my new and improved mature perspective, I will focus on the positive. Here's something you can do to prevent the spread of pseudoscience or botched media coverage of science. Check out A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science, a piece of visual journalism sure to delight the evidence-seekers in the crowd. Thanks to Compound Interest for sharing this aesthetically-pleasing checklist that should appear in fine print below any health article or claim. Now if only there was a guide for spotting the flawed claims that comes out of the mouths of celebrity pediatricians, I could rest more easily and maybe run a marathon for charity or build a school in Africa.

Oh and here's something you can do to help children stay healthy who don't have a celebrity pediatrician or really any pediatrician or access to vaccines - sign up at Shot At Life, the UN Foundations grass-roots campaign to raise awareness, funding and access to vaccines in the developing world. Join the Global Moms Relay. 

6 comments:

Awesome Mom said...

One thing I have done is share pro vaccine information over Facebook. I have come out as a pro vaccine person even though I have friends that are anti. I am tired of letting them be the vocal minority. I am hopeful that the flood of science could convince them to change their minds.

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hi Awesome, long time, no see. You've come out just in time for World Immunization Week. Let the flood of science begin!

andrea said...

You are a hero among women. I had to hold my tongue today and not mention a Clueless actor dispensing medical advice. It hurt. Also, this. http://publichealthrants.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/justin-bieber-thinks-all-polar-bears-are-gay/

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

I know, Andrea, it is very painful. Especially after reading Frank Bruni's piece in the NY Times.http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/22/opinion/bruni-autism-and-the-agitator.html?_r=0

Thanks for that! I always knew the Bieber had it in him. And PHR worked in the NFL too, well done.

I wonder if PHR would be willing to team up with Momma Data to write the bad pseudoscience news before it happens and before celebrities think it up? It would be a prophylactic public health service of sorts.

andrea said...

Omg that would be so much fun... truly someone has to protect the public from news that hasn't happened!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Absolutely. That sounds like a tag line- Protecting the public from botched health news before it happens.