In another typical news day we are told that a "Major New Study Reveals Cellphone Radiation Causes Cancer." If, like most people, you react to headlines, your first (perhaps only) thought is "HOLY SHIT!!!".
The news story begins with:
The $25 million study, conducted over two and a half years by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, found significantly higher instances of two types of malignant tumors on male rats exposed to the same radio-frequency radiation currently used in the United States.
Hmmm. Sounds pretty serious. But track down the sources and you discover that
- The radiation used in the study was "similar" to cellphone radiation.
- The rats were exposed to nine hours of continuous radiation per day.
- The radiation was up to five to seven times the intensity of a typical cellphone.
- Only the male rats developed cancer.
Also not mentioned in the "news" story is that while the rats that were (over) exposed to the (similar) radiation did have higher rates of cancer, they also lived longer than the rats in the control group.
Each link I followed (until I found the original study report) softened the headline from "causes cancer" to "may cause cancer" to "suggests a link between...".
When the media reports a story that has the potential to scare millions of people and even disrupt an entire industry they must report it responsibly even if such reporting might go over the heads of some of their audience. For a story like this it would obviously include the above numbered points. It should also include information such as the size of the target and control groups, and most importantly, who is funding the study (are you listening, anti-vaxers?).
Too bad Jon Stewart has retired. I had much more respect for his "comedy" news than I have for "real" news".