Clickbait and the Insanity of Health Reporting

This post is going to be mind-blowing!!! You won’t even believe what happens when you get to the end of this paragraph!!!!!!!!!!!

End

I bet you didn’t see that one coming

I cannot stand obnoxious faux-reporters and ‘click bait’ headlines. I get it, serious journalism is in trouble and clicks can pay big. But please tell me why we have titles screaming that “Drinking Half a Bottle of Red Wine Before Bed Can Help You Lose Weight” or “Science Says: Eggs Will Kill You Almost as Fast as Cigarettes”? Yes, those are real titles.
With the sheer volume of articles and videos appearing on a daily basis, it is very hard to get noticed. We live in a world where those who shout the loudest often get the most attention. That means resorting to eye-catching images and formulaic headlines. After all, when one feels they have something important to say, they want people to notice. In that point, I understand. However, what we have happening is the equivalent of throwing a brick at someone every time you want their attention. Now, imagine that happening hundreds and even thousands of times each day. Okay, so don’t imagine that. It is not a pretty picture. The basic idea, is that eventually we will becomes so used to the ‘bricks’, that we will start ignoring them.

Bored

Were you saying something?

So, who should you listen to in these times of chaos?  Professional (and usually credentialed) Health Educators!  Health Educators (meaning those of us who actually graduated from an accredited university and specialized in health education) typically, but not always, carry a professional certification of CHES or MCHES.  Most of us also maintain professional affiliations with organizations such as SOPHE, APHA, HCEA, and/or AAHE.  (Note: Membership in these organizations can be cost-prohibitive, so some individuals prefer the ‘obsessively following on social media’ route.)  Rather than scream from the rafters, we keep on delivering our evidence-based health messages in a calm and rational manner. We strive to be a trustworthy source of health information. The idea is to be like your favorite aunt. You know the one … former librarian, not keen on gossip or lies, tells you to ditch that friend that was always taking advantage, bakes award-winning apple pies, and gives hugs that settle something deep in your soul.

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We are ‘that’ aunt

Health Educators, such as myself, all operate under a code of professional and ethical conduct. If you are interested in the details of my particular ethical code, you can view it here on the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing website. I view these responsibilities to the public and the profession as sacrosanct. There is nothing that threatens trust and credibility more than behaving in an unprofessional and sensational manner. Of course, I try to keep my blog (hopefully) enjoyable, but I always want to make sure that everything I write is fact-based. I write within my sphere of expertise (general, environmental, and oral health; infectious diseases; education & research; food allergies; 20th century history (pre-1970); and psychology). As you can see, I have a lot of information floating around in my brain and I am always looking for opportunities to share. That said, I will always admit if something is beyond my scope of knowledge. Trust me, biostatistics still makes me cringe, a lot. I will, if possible, try to refer you to appropriate resources.

I am staring at a suspiciously empty inbox. If you have a question, please email your queries to Rie Of Letters.

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4 thoughts on “Clickbait and the Insanity of Health Reporting

    • Thank you for the link to the article. I noticed that the original (in Newsweek) appeared in a special edition on Spirituality. In that way, it makes sense. As an interest piece, it’s not a bad read. However, categorizing it with Science and Technology… That’s a strange choice, to say the least. I’m always open to the possibility that there are some things that are beyond my understanding, but there isn’t even an attempt to explain how he can “heal” people, which I’d expect in an article categorized like that. As you implied, it seems more like an advertisement. Sad…

      Liked by 1 person

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