Infrastructure maintenance is not just an issue for bridges and roads. Sometimes the infrastructure that needs an update is how we assess risk, especially for patients where treatment continues to change.
It is a pleasure to give a shout out to commentator par excellence and ACSH friend Trevor Butterworth. In his recent Forbes op-ed Butterworth sticks his arm deep into the muck created by the mixing of science and politics, and comes up with a disturbing conclusion.
Reporting about health risks isn't easy. It involves an understanding of the complexities of risk assessment, an ability to distinguish between scientific and pseudoscientific information, the capacity to evaluate and digest complicated material, and the communication skills to portray the risk in the proper context. Simplistic or contradictory messages can leave readers confused and wary; they "tune out" and you lose your audience.
To the Editor: While scanning my wife's copy of April 1999 Elle I was dismayed to see poor health advice dispensed because of inappropriate risk comparisons. On page 275 the "Health News" column states that oral contraceptive pills have dangers that include "a 50% greater risk of circulatory disease and a 20% increased risk of breast cancer," which belies the next statement that the risk is "very remote."