Recently, someone I follow on Twitter linked to a story by Katie MacBride titled “Overconfidence kills: The CDC and WHO still haven’t learned how to effectively communicate uncertainty.” That seemed right to me, so I clicked ❤️, followed the link, and read the story. Despite agreeing with the thesis, the actual article gets so much wrong that I went back and withdrew my ❤️ from the Tweet linking to it. This isn’t something I do very often.Continue reading “Overconfidence about overconfidence”
The dialectic of science journalism, especially as refracted through social media, is to begin with the overenthusiastic claim “Study proves P.” Within a couple of days, the antithesis: “Study shows nothing of the kind, and anyway not-P.” Then there’s a storm, a cute puppy, or racism, and the matter is never resolved in a progressive synthesis.
Take the recent specimen of a study on the effectiveness of various kinds of face mask. Coverage popped up in my feeds from numerous friends.1 Most people took away the lesson that gaiters were worse than no face mask at all.
Yesterday, Slate ran the antithesis under the headline For All We Know, Gaiter Masks Are Fine.Continue reading “Science journalism and the experimenter’s regress”