Drug Therapy Hype: The Misuse of Data

Reynold Spector


Hype is promotion of an intensive extravagant nature that is often deceptive and frequently meant to stimulate the recipient to do or not do something. There is both positive hype (meant to stimulate action) and negative hype (to discourage action). Hype can be differentiated from hyperbole (and what in advertising is called “puffery”), an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally. Complicating matters is the imprecision of language; ambiguity and vagueness abound.

We should separate hype from lies, although in many cases extreme hype tends toward lying. But to define lies we must first define truth. Truth applies to statements (propositions). A statement is true if:

  1. 1) The statement corresponds to reality;
  2. 2) The statement is coherent with other facts;
  3. 3) The statement has pragmatic implications, e.g., predictions based on the statement have not been falsified.

Lies are statements that are not true and may be told with or without intent to deceive.

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