Though most of the information found online, on adverts, or through word of mouth, is considered to have some truth, some of your own research is necessary. CBD is an excellent example of a product that does have real medicinal value—a point that has been proven through various studies—with exaggerated claims made about it. The CBD business is booming, and given this public interest, media outlets have begun covering CBD health claims more frequently.
So, how do you go about spotting fake health claims from media outlets?
Find the source
When trying to verify the accuracy of a claim, your first step is the check the source. Where is the information coming from? Generally, you want to see links to unbiased research studies or authority sources.
Many of these sources may be government-run, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the World Health Organization (WHO), or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A good thing to watch out for is the website extension—.gov, .edu, and others that can’t be simply purchased like .org or .coms are an excellent place to start.
Though you may find authority sources with one of these purchasable extensions, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), which is a .org, the most important thing to consider is whether or not the site has a reason to misrepresent the facts—do they have a bias? All of the before-mentioned source examples would not benefit from making false health claims to the public.
Back in our CBD health claims example, for instance, if they are claiming CBD reduces anxiety—and it does—you would expect to see actual research on the subject linked rather than say, a CBD retailers website, who very clearly benefit from you believing this to be true.
Read the source
The next step is to read the source being provided. A common trick of the media is to misrepresent what’s been shown in an actual study to suit the sensational format of headlines better—they are manufacturing clickbait—and the best bait has just enough truth to be believable.
The media might say something like, “CBD cures cancer!” which is not true. CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of cancer treatments and may help destroy certain types of cancerous cells, but it has yet to be determined as a “cure.” While CBD has been proven to help with pain, and there are even websites like iSum going over the best CBD oils and highly-ranked CBD gummies for certain conditions, be wary of big promises and a “one size fits all” cure for all ailments.
However, if you saw this headline, along with a study attached, but didn’t read that study, you’d still be falling victim to a false media claim.
This sort of almost-true information can be particularly dangerous. Can you imagine what would happen if a cancer patient chose to forgo traditional treatment entirely and rely solely on CBD to cure their cancer? Odds are it would end tragically.
The final step is to expand on the source you’ve been given—do your research. Perhaps one study says that CBD is useful for treating disorders such as schizophrenia as an antipsychotic, but others may find the opposite.
The media tends to pick one study and present the findings of that study as fact, again, using the power of half-truth to sell a story. It’s crucial to review research on the subject as a whole to view the complete picture and draw a factual conclusion yourself.
The media is not as unbiased as one might think, like a typical business, they have a bottom line to think about, and in cases, will skew the truth or outright make false claims to bring in readers. Especially with the Internet -granted ability of misinformation to spread like wildfire, it is important to check, read, and compare sources to spot fake health claims from media outlets.