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Report Analysis: Article on KSWB as an example of inadequate information in journalism

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Read the complete article on the KSBW website.

MONTEREY, Calif. — While many are lining up in droves to get the H1N1 vaccine, others are seeking a more natural way to fight the virus. One of these alternatives is using naturopathic medicine, which is based on the belief that the body can heal itself through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.

“I don’t recommend vaccinations for H1N1,” said Beatrice Levinson, owner of Monterey Bay’s Naturopathy. “My recommendation: the very basics are exercise, diet, water and sleep. I call them the four pillars of health.” Besides a diet full of natural health foods and getting plenty of exercise, naturopaths also recommend certain natural products and supplements to boost the body’s immune system.

This is actually something that pops up quite often whenever the flu is in the news for an extended period of times. It seems that there is already a well established desire to look into preventative measures and treatments outside of the avenues of modern medical practices.

Of particular interest here are two oddities that I felt warranted pointing out:

  1. Many of the claims made here are, un-journalistically in my opinion, not citing references or attributing a source. Who says elderberry syrup contains compounds that can fight off viruses?
  2. The author has gone so far as to mention silver as being of particular concern as an ingredient in some of the ‘remedies’ that the FDA has somehow confiscated from the internet. It does not mention why this is of particular importance.

It is precisely this lack of precision that breeds misunderstandings and irrationality on the part of the reading public. I’m all for finding a more traditional method for virus prevention, but do articles such as these do more harm then good?

Note to flu-phobes: Vitamin D is your friend

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

With the advent of the dreaded(?) H1N1 virus, Vitamin D is popping up in the news again as a hot-topic flu-fighter (see this article). Ever the sceptic, my first question (after “Really?”) was “How exactly?”

As it turns out, the vitamin in question is purportedly not your average vitamin. It’s a secosteroid (a steroid where one of the bonds has been broken). Most other vitamins aren’t, and so the behaviour is a bit different. Read more…