Every Naked Facts book includes a handy guide to help you judge the latest science news. It's our way of dealing with the crappy science coverage in most news media, most of which headline poorly written "gee whiz" stories that give readers whiplash when one story is contradicted by the next (Today: "Coffee Causes Cancer!" Tomorrow: "Coffee Stops Cancer!"). It's not good for readers, and it's not good for science.
So we put together a list of seven simple questions to ask the next time you read about a "breakthrough". We'll run one of these tips every day for the next week.
Question #1: Where’s the proof? This seems almost too simple. But many people reading the news don’t pay attention to the one thing that really matters: Where’s the evidence that this “discovery” is real? Never accept anything just because a reporter says so. Demand proof. If the story doesn't quote some real scientists from real laboratories and refer to some real articles in real journals, junk it. The reporter's trying to scam you.