In commenting on the pros and cons of a research paper or news story the evidence is exactly what is required. There is a requirement to dissect the publication from top to bottom. This means establishing whether the research paper was reviewed by other experts prior to publication (called peer review), having an opinion on the reputation of the journal in this respect, assessing the reliability of the statistical data and so on. This is referred to as the weight of the evidence. In other words is the evidence strong or weak and why. This story, for example, is published in a reputable journal, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), but as we will find out later there are questions about the weak statistical analysis used to form the conclusion that white rice causes Type 2 diabetes.

How the science can be criticized is only one important aspect of this story. It is how it is presented to the media that is also important. Even though, as will be seen later, the newspapers face a barrage of criticism regarding reporting style we should not forget the responsibility of how the science is disseminated to the media. The website,, which addresses these problems is well worthwhile looking up. It will point you towards some important ways to assess news reports about health issues. The publisher, Gary Schwitzer?s is specialized in health care journalism and for many years he has addressed the serious issues of how the media mislead the public in this area. On the ?white rice story? his website raises the obvious weaknesses of the evidence presented in the BMJ article but it also raises the point about why the BMJ press release regarding a statistically and methodologically weak paper should headline ?white rice increases risk of Type 2 diabetes?

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