Saturday, January 05, 2013

Saturday Stories: Happiness, Misinformation and Guns

Roger Law with a fabulous piece on cultivating happiness.

The Columbia Journalism Review on the media's provision of a daily diet of misinformation consequent to "personal health" journalism.

The New England Journal of Medicine with a free full text editorial on how guns in America kill twice as many children as cancer, 5 times as many as heart disease, and 15 times as many as infections and provides us with the evidence supporting their regulation.

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  1. Yoni, I don't see how you can see fit to recommend the CJR article. I was dumbfounded by his intro where he discusses the seemingly "obvious" journalistic abuses in Tara Parker Pope's weight-loss reporting, among other NYTs writers, but then commits worse abuses himself. For example, he says that studies "routinely" show a 30 percent success rate for long-term weight-loss maintenance. He doesn't define long-term or what is significant maintenance; he doesn't cite any of these routinely published studies or a meta-analysis that would support his statement.

    In fact, the most respected meta-analasis (which he should have read but didn't), Tracy Mann, et. al., contracted by Medicare to identify the diet programs it should re-imburse based on long-range success, had to concede defeat because it proved the null hypotheses. There are no reliable long-term weight-loss programs, not even Weight Watchers, which this CJR author seemed to think was so wonderful. But, hey, you don't need facts, do you, when you're reporting on those lazy Fatty McFats? Our CJR reporter tells us the EVERYONE knows someone in his or her family who has maintained long-term loss, so hey, it's prima facie obvious that long-term maintenance is not only possible, but "routinely" happens at a 30% success rate. What a maroon!

    1. Hi Debra, perhaps my take of Ms. Parker Pope's article will help shed light on why I felt the CJR article had merit. Click here and it'll take you there.

  2. Anonymous9:46 am

    The Cultivating Happiness piece just didn't do it for me. I'm not feeling particularly awesome, so hearing the motivational speak in these terms just made it feel like a sham. Obviously, happiness must begin with self worth, but still...