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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How Headlines Mislead

Headlines, including those on the Internet, can sometimes mislead readers about the content of the article. Consider some of the reporting on the Korean study showing a prevalence of 1 in 38.

From The Detroit Free Press:
This headline suggests that there is much more autism in Korea than in the United States. But the study says no such thing. As the AP report notes accurately, the study found a higher prevalence in Korea than previous estimates suggested, and that a similar study in the United States might reach a similar result.

Here, the headline might lead a reader to think that true rates are increasing. They might be, but -- again -- the study says something different. The content of the article is more accurate:
“There's a lot more people in America and around the world that have autism then what we previously thought,” says Betty Lehman, executive director of the Autism Society of Colorado.

An extensive new study looks at a wide range of kids. Experts say casting a wider net and looking at mainstream kids, not just children in special education programs could raise the statistics here in the U.S