I get it. Journalism is hard. The story has to be remarkable and titillating or it will not disseminate. All the better to affix a catchy headline and allow the newswire to pick it up and boom.
Except we should do better. As TheBMJ aptly reminds us--answering questions, questioning answers.
The people that make publication decisions are often pulled into the discourse as well. Read the editorial response debating the merits of qualitative research as high priority for review and publication.
Excerpt from rejection letter tweeted by McGill Qualitative Health Research Group (@MQHRG), 30 September 2015
An additional example is straight from my professional life. Although invited to report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, Eurekalert denied my access to embargoed content because I wasn't writing for an "accredited publication". Apparently the merits and broad access of blogging or writing outside the sphere of influence of publication heuristics or agendas is not worthy of access.
A radical new drug?
This headline article is a mix bag of information. Nothing new to see hear folks. It has all of the ingredients for a story that will sell copy.
Although, LM11A-31 isn't a radical new drug. It has been studied for its potential ability to mediate cell death in various neuropathological conditions such as spinal cord injury (mice), retinal dystrophy and even Alzheimer's disease,
The article and even the overall Longevity Issue postulate other theories that sound more plausable than yet another longshot monotherapeutic drug.
The acknowledgment that AD was barely nonexistent 50 years ago. Obesity and diabetes? Same thing. Why aren't we funding the research to measure the commonality and shared thread of the new blockbuster chronic diseases? Call me crazy but when I think of parallel "discoveries" of the time I think of the launch of USDA Food Guides, prepared foods (think TV dinners and space program), modern agricultural subsidy programs, and other variables of a modern society. Coincidence?
Here is what I find fundamentally strange about the reporting. The article that leads into the Alzheimer's From a New Angle Story, stresses the importance of modifiable risk factors and how they impact longevity and healthy aging. The New Age of Aging, We Need To Start Thinking Further Into Our Own Future, Much Further is a compelling vote for improving the social determinants of health. There are no links to this story on the highlight reel of the issue. Why not? Laura L. Cartensen PhD is a powerhouse in the field of aging and longevity. Her book, A Long Bright Future is a must read--the context is required if you are interested in filtering the hype from the hope.
The author of the more thoughtful article reported findings of the Sightlines Project at Stanford Center on Longevity. The mission statement echoes the research question about aging well by defining strengths and vulnerabilities of the US population. The focus collapses multiple measures of the social determinants of health into 3 larger buckets: healthy living, financial security, and social engagement.
It should come as no surprise that a culture that evolved over the millenia to support short lives has failed to optimize long ones in these three key ways--Laura Carstensen,PhD The New Age of Aging (TIME magazine)
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