When it comes to reporting on “scientific” studies, flashy headlines often take precedence over the facts. This was true in the case of a recent report claiming a soda tax in Berkeley caused soda consumption to drop considerably say Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier in a piece for RealClearHealth.
Headlines cheered the report, which was based on a street survey, as evidence that the tax was working. But, according to Kelly and Stier, “The headlines not only sounded too good to be true, but an actual reading, let alone analysis, of the study showed they were completely wrong.”
Kelly and Stier actually took the time to analyze the report and found major flaws with how the survey was conducted, including that “intercept interviews are inherently suspect and even the researchers admitted as much.” They also pointed to significant differences in the groups that were surveyed and then were used to compare soda consumption.
Kelly and Stier say most of the coverage of the report ignored the fact that the lead author of the study is a vocal proponent of soda taxes and that the study was funded by “the soda-tax-supporting Global Obesity Prevention Center.”
The old saying “don’t take it at face value” applies more often than not when it comes to sensational headlines. So next time you see a headline that makes you think twice, you probably should.