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Welcome to The Studies Show!
We're here to guide you through a world of complicated, uncertain science.
Welcome to The Studies Show! It’s a podcast, and we’re Tom Chivers and Stuart Ritchie. We’re both science writers: Tom works for Semafor.com, and Stuart for the i newspaper in the UK.
Over the last many years, we’ve both written loads about how much bad and/or misleading scientific information there is out there. Sometimes that bad information is because science is hard, sometimes it’s because journalists aren’t very good at understanding science.
But it’s also because the media is ever more dependent on cash-for-clicks, and exciting-but-false stories get more clicks than boring-but-true ones. And science itself is battling with problems of fraud and bad practice. Whatever the reason, you need to know what you can trust and what you can’t, in order to make decisions about things that matter in your life – how to vote, what to eat, what medicines to use. That’s where this Substack comes in.
OnThe Studies Show, we wanted to help you navigate that. We’ll take a look at some controversial science- and health-related stories in the news, and do our best to have a look at what the studies actually show. Something we’ve both noticed over the years is that to do that, you often have to look beyond what the headlines say about the studies, or even what the studies themselves say in their introductions: the authors might want to say they’ve found an enormous breakthrough, but the data might show that it’s all a bit more complicated than that.
So we’re going to dig into the studies themselves – The Studies Show is a show about what the studies show, you see, it’s very clever – and try to guide the listener through the things you need to look out for. Can the studies show a causal relationship? Were the studies weak or fraudulent? Might it all be statistical fluke? Do the media stories accurately represent the consensus?
Our first episode, which came out this week, was about semaglutide, the new weight-loss drug – which actually works! – and the reaction to it. In the coming weeks, we’re planning to look at various other things, such as whether artificial sweeteners cause cancer, and the impacts of breastfeeding.
We hope you’ll enjoy it. And if you’d like access to some bonus material, such as ask-me-anythings and the occasional bonus episode, you can become a paid subscriber for just £5 a month.
Thank you for listening!
Tom and Stuart