Ban reporters from scientific meetings.

I’m serious.  Scientific meetings should be for scientists to disseminate results among themselves and plan future research.  Meeting coordinators need to stop holding press conferences and distributing press releases.  What is their goal?  Influencing funding?  All that seems to be accomplished is the proliferation of articles exaggerating or completely misinterpreting the results.  Studies presented at meetings are often pilot studies, preliminary analyses, and exploratory projects.  There’s no peer-review beyond selection of which studies are presented based on very brief abstracts (summaries).

An example:

AD retina

Your eye doctor could look at your eye and tell if you are developing Alzheimer’s Disease?!

No.

The studies described compared people with full-fledged Alzheimer’s Disease to people without the disease.  This is far from detecting it early.   In fact, based on the article, the test missed 15% of AD patients and misdiagnosed 5 – 15% of unaffected controls.

That’s another problem with reporters covering scientific meetings — we can’t read the actual source paper presenting the results because it doesn’t exist yet.  At a meeting, results are either presented as a short platform presentation with Powerpoint slides or as a large poster.  Sometimes results and conclusions change by the time the full paper is published which could be months to years later or even never.  In this case, I had to read four articles before one actually named the meeting:  Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen.

 

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