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Top 4 Tips To Spot Bad Science Reporting

How can you spot bad science reporting? Host Myles Bess helps you get above the noise by following 4 simple letters: G – L- A- D.

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices.

ABOVE THE NOISE is a show that cuts through the hype and investigates the research behind controversial and trending topics in the news. Hosted by Myles Bess.


In an era of sensationalized news and “alternative facts” it can be hard to figure out what to believe or not. And this is especially true when it comes to science and health news.

Crazy claims and sketchy science reporting dilutes the public’s understanding of science, which can have some big consequences, especially when it comes to our health and environment. How can we make solid decisions–like how to vote, what to buy or what can make us sick, if our science news is hyped?

What to look for when reading or watching science news?
We’ve combed through resources, and talked to scientists, journalists and educators to come up with our top four tips to help you become a critical consumer of science news. We call it G.L.A.D. :

Get past the clickbait

Look out for crazy claims

Analyze sources

Determine outside expert opinions

–What is clickbait?
Clickbait is a term used to describe eye-catching and often sensationalized phrases and images designed to make viewers click on an Internet link, often to increase the number of views or for commercial gain.

–What is a credible source for science news?
Questions to ask yourself when determining if a source is credible: Where is the information in the article coming from? Is it from research published in a well-respected peer reviewed journal, or is it coming from an organization or person with an agenda? Who are the scientists quoted in the article? Does the article ask scientists who were not involved with the research what they think about it? Are the scientists interviewed qualified to talk about the subject matter? Do they work at research institutes, universities, think tanks, pharmaceutical companies, etc.?

Sketchy Open-Access Science Journals as determined through an investigation:
Understanding Science: Untangling Media Messages and Public Policies
HealthNewsReview: Tips for Analyzing Studies, Medical Evidence and Health Care Claims

Tips for analyzing studies, medical evidence and health care claims

Greater Good: 10 Questions to ask about Scientific Studies:
Forbes: 10 questions to distinguish real from fake science:
Analyzing Science Media:

Analyzing Science Media

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About KQED
KQED, an NPR and PBS affiliate in San Francisco, CA, serves Northern California and beyond with a public-supported alternative to commercial TV, Radio, and web media. Funding for Above the Noise is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Silver Giving Foundation, Stuart Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.