Why don’t journalists link to primary sources?

March 19th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 66 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 19 March 2011

Why don’t journalists link to primary sources? Whether it’s a press release, an academic journal article, a formal report, or perhaps (if everyone’s feeling brave) the full transcript of an interview, the primary source contains more information for interested readers, it shows your working, and it allows people to check whether what you wrote was true. Perhaps linking to primary sources would just be too embarrassing. Here are three short stories.

This week the Telegraph ran the headline “Wind farms blamed for stranding of whales”. “Offshore wind farms are one of the main reasons why whales strand themselves on beaches, according to scientists studying the problem”, it continued. Baroness Warsi even cited it as a fact on BBC Question Time this week, arguing against wind farms.

But anyone who read the open access academic paper in PLoS One, titled “Beaked Whales respond to simulated and actual navy sonar”, would see that the study looked at sonar, and didn’t mention wind farms at all. At our most generous, the Telegraph story was a spectacular and bizarre exaggeration of a brief contextual aside about general levels of manmade sound in the ocean by one author at the end of the press release (titled “Whales scared by sonars”). Now, I have higher expectations of academic institutions than media ones, but this release didn’t mention wind farms, certainly didn’t say they were “one of the main reasons why whales strand themselves on beaches”, and anyone reading the press release could see that the study was about naval sonar.

The Telegraph article was a distortion (now deleted, with a miserly correction), perhaps driven by their odder editorial lines on the environment, but my point is this: if we had a culture of linking to primary sources, if they were a click away, then any sensible journalist would have been be too embarrassed to see this article go online. Distortions like this are only possible, or plausible, or worth risking, in an environment where the reader is actively deprived of information.

Sometimes the examples are sillier. Professor Anna Ahn published a paper recently, showing that people with shorter heels have larger calves. For the Telegraph this became “Why stilletos are the secret to shapely legs”, for the Mail “Stilletos give women shapelier legs than flats”, for the Express “Stilletos tone up your legs”.

But anybody who read even the press release, which is a readable piece of popular science itself, would immediately see that this study had nothing whatsoever to do with shoes. It didn’t look at shoe heel height, it looked at anatomical heel length, the distance from the back of your ankle joint to the insertion of the Achilles tendon. The participants were all barefoot. It was just an interesting nerdy insight into how the human body is engineered: if you have a shorter lever at the back of your foot, you need a bigger muscle in your calf.

Once more, this story was a concoction by journalists, but more than that, no sane journalist could possibly have risked writing the story about stilletos, if they’d linked to the press release: they’d have looked like idiots, and fantasists, to anyone who bothered to click.

Lastly, on Wednesday, the Daily Mail ran with the scare headline “Swimming too often in chlorinated water ‘could increase risk of developing bladder cancer’, say scientists”. There’s little point in documenting the shortcomings of Daily Mail health stories any more, but suffice to say, while the story purported to describe a study in the journal Environmental Health, anyone who read the original paper, or even the press release, would see immediately that bladder cancer wasn’t measured, and the Mail’s story was a simple distortion.

Of course, this is a problem that generalises well beyond science. Over and again, you read comment pieces that purport to be responding to an earlier piece, but distort the earlier arguments, or miss out the most important ones: they count on it being inconvenient for you to check. It’s also an interesting difference between different forms of media: most bloggers have no institutional credibility, and so they must build it, by linking transparently, and allowing you to easily double check their work.

But more than anything, because linking sources is such an easy thing to do, and the motivations for avoiding links are so dubious, I’ve detected myself using a new rule of thumb: if you don’t link to primary sources, I just don’t trust you.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

66 Responses

  1. Sirius said,

    March 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Over the last half-century, the enterprises of this author have intersected with numerous disciplines and fields, among which Mathematics and Journalism prominently figure. On occasion, when I find myself meeting a mathematician for the first time, or in a group, or (most frequently) at a conference, I will tell them that I’m a journalist, merely for the pleasure I experience as watching the sneers of derision arising from the faces in the crowd.
    Some experiences stand out. Around 1996 I obtained an invitation to come to Amherst College and address an audience consisting of mathematics students and faculty from the 5 colleges in the area. My talk was about my search for and interview with the very famous recluse mathematician, Alexandre Grothendieck in his hermitage in the Vaucluse region of France in the summer of 1988.
    When I began speaking from the podium it was explained that I’d been financed as a journalist by Le Nouvel Observateur, a glossy Parisian left-center magazine.
    The chairman of the department was sitting in the front row. At the first mention of the word “journalist” he lowered his head and covered his face with his left hand – from shame! I knew exactly what he was thinking:”What sort of bimbo have I thoughtlessly invited to address our community of sages?”
    Curiously: more or less the same reaction attended my initial inquiries at the Institute Henri Poincare in May of 1988. The secretaries had directed me to a researcher who was known to be friendly towards Dr. Grothendieck – as much as anyone can be – and who might be persuaded to pass me the address of the secret locale where he was hanging out.
    He didn’t know what to make of me. He wondered why I was so anxious to meet the great man. He warned me that Grothendieck’s work in Algebraic Geometry was very technical and I probably wouldn’t be able to understand him. Then I, once again, explained that I was a journalist researching an article for Le Nouvel Observateur. He dismissed me at once, rudely, with a wave of the hand …(“Of course, I should have known. One of those bums!”)
    Journalism is the science of the instant, the moment, the “now”. A good journalist is a historian, in the best sense of the word, who delivers, often under well nigh impossible conditions, an accurate, faithful and wise rendition of events unfolding in the spectacle passing before his very eyes.
    It is altogether wrong-headed to apply the standards (or methods or objectives) of a mathematician to the activities of a journalist. The mathematical sciences are dedicated to investigation of necessary and eternal truths, the timeless domain of numbers, relations, patterns, structures, and logic (where it overlaps with philosophy) . A mathematician may work for half a century to prove a theorem – the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem required over 350 years – yet the little spark of illumination he brings to our darkness is as immediate, spontaneous and fresh as if he’d discovered it right at the beginning, 50 years previously.
    Those great minds, those colossi whose legs, like marble pillars, bestride the vistas of eternity, have every right to look with disdain (hopefully with a dram of pity) on the mercenary Peddlers of the Actual, those (literally) “day laborers”, who so resemble those poor souls one finds on city streets, plastic sacks slung over their shoulder, who collect old soda cans from trash baskets, redeemable at a nickel apiece.
    Yet the real question is this: do those worthy souls (whose eyes have perhaps been blinded by gazing to fixedly at the sun of Eternal Truth) possess the capacity to be able to record – in the very thick of its multiple force fields –the events of a natural catastrophe, or a battle, or a political demonstration – or even something so thoroughly planned as an inauguration or royal wedding – those essential details that will allow thousands of readers to understand what happens, or still happening, or even to feel, however briefly, that they themselves are there, being carried along in the relentless flood of lived experience?

    (1) On the dangers of being a research mathematician
    “Archimedes … was …, as fate would have it, intent upon working out some problem by a diagram, and having fixed his mind alike and his eyes upon the subject of his speculation, he never noticed the incursion of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. In this transport of study and contemplation, a soldier, unexpectedly coming up to him, commanded him to follow to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew his sword and ran him through.”
    -Plutarch on Archimedes
    This story famously illustrates the perils associated with high-level research in mathematics. In his autobiographical writings Einstein admits that he found it impossible to relax at a party, even if he happened to be the guest of honor. He could sit alone for extended periods, deep in his private thoughts anc calculations, unable to relate to anything going on around him. Fortunate it was that the presence of others on these occasions gave him some protection against Roman soldiers!
    Such obsessional mental labors can be disabling. There are people who have becomes so muscle-bound through their pre-occupation with mathematics, that the capacity to function at doing anything else has effectively atrophied: whether operating machines, driving a car, using a camera, holding a conversation, learning other subjects, playing musical instruments, dressing properly, cooking or paying attention to what one is eating (cf anecdotes about Isaac Newton at the dinner table), that is to say, the entire range of skills required for normal human living.Paul Erdös is the classic example. (Note that this did not inhibit him in the least from a lifestyle built around constant travel!)
    These handicaps can become life threatening when crossing the street, driving a car, walking on ice-covered pavements, drifting into stupid arguments, remembering appointments, warding off danger, and similar crises.
    Based on these observations I have developed the following provocative thesis: it isn’t because mathematicians are any smarter than other people, that the fields of mathematics took so many centuries to evolve (For example: although the conceptual basis and essential constructions for the calculus were developed by Archimedes in the 3rd century B.C.E., it did not emerge as a practical universal tool until the 17th century C.E.) but because in times and places in human history, the psychological disabilities associated with being a research mathematician rendered the profession too dangerous.
    People who tried to do mathematics in the past risked being killed in war, dying from accidents, wandering off and getting lost, falling off cliffs, and so forth. The dearth of mathematicians before the rise of civilization is thus explained: people who fell into the category of research mathematicians frequently ended up being eaten by wild animals (or cannibals)!

    Ground down to dust is the cliché that a mathematician, unlike a physicist or biologist, only needs a pencil and a few pieces of paper to do his research: a sand-pile will do. This is incorrect: if mathematical discoveries were so cheaply underwritten, everybody would be making them. Doing mathematics requires access to the most complex and expensive piece of equipment on earth: the organized power, as narrowly focused as a burning glass, of the human brain, absorbed in difficult activities of visualization and calculation to the virtual exclusion of everything else, over the full 24 hours of each day. No cyclotron can compete with this.

    Yet this also carries great risks, risks far greater than one can allow in a world with tigers roaming outside the cave, or decimating plagues , or multiple invasions, or herds of wild elephants trampling the crops.

    It is not merely a question of “having enough leisure time”, ( yet another time-worn cliché) ; it is a matter of having the kind of leisure that permits certain people to allow themselves to become so distracted from the perils of life that they can replace normal vigilance by an ingrown mindset based on obstinate ratiocination.

    How dangerous is the life of a professional research mathematician! Has anyone written about that? To everyone who knows this community, or who has done such work themselves, it’s an obvious fact of life. It may help explain, for example, why so much research is accomplished by persons in their 20’s: after a decade or so of intensive research, the accumulated risks make it impossible to continue.

    No-one needs to have their attention directed to the great dangers in professions such as fireman, policeman, coal miner, medical investigator of infectious diseases, or stunt man, or auto car racer. That the risks run by mathematicians are equally great is much less understood. The so-called ‘absent-minded professor’ may actually be the victim of a occupational hazard, one that can, and sometimes does, prove lethal.

    (3)On the Joys of Melancholy

    “Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
    Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
    Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
    There let me live forlorn.” Lachrimae Pavane, John Dowland

    The exquisite joys of melancholy have perennially been praised in verse and song. In the remarkable study by Ethan Watters “Crazy Like Us”, we learn the story of how, up to about 2005, Japanese society had no notion of depression. What we call the depressive or melancholy type, was considered to be a superior type of person, very reflective and thoughtful, well disciplined and in his or own way, wise.
    It was the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmith Kline , that set itself the goal of turning this perception around. It mounted a huge advertising campaign to convince the Japanese population that it suffered from a serious disease, labeled “depression” and that only their poison “Paxil” could relieve it. By the year 2009, the sales of Paxil in Japan passed the billion dollar mark.
    Yet many European and American poets agree with the Japanese.
    John Milton:
    “But hail thou Goddess, sage and holy
    Hail divinest Melancholy
    Whose saintly visage is too bright
    To hit the sense of human sight” – Il Penseroso

    John Keats:
    “Veiled Melancholy has her sov’reign shrine
    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
    Cab burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine.”
    Ode on Melancholy

    Percy Bysshe Shelley:
    “Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is
    What if my leaves are falling like its own
    The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
    Will take from both as deeper autumnal tone
    Sweet though in sadness”

    And Emily Dickinson (of course!):
    “Give Balm – to Giants –
    And they’ll wilt , like Men –
    Give Himmaleh-
    They’ll carry – Him!”

    There can be no denying that one can find great pleasure in attuning one’s soul to “the still, soft music of humanity”.
    It sets me to wondering: maybe that’s why I so far out of my way to court disappointment. Just so I can sit back and enjoy it…

    (4) On the traditional “Doctor of Philosophy” degree
    It was just a month or so ago that I found myself in conversation with an administrator from the university I happened to be visiting. After learning that I referred to myself as “Roy Lisker, Doctor of Philosophy”, he wanted to know if I’d obtained my doctor’s degree from his institution:
    “Well, from some other institution then?”
    “So, Mr. Lisker. From where did you get your degree?”
    “Not from any institution in the ordinary sense . I contacted a dozen or more scholars, several with outstanding international reputations. They all sent me letters (I can show them to you) testifying that, in their opinion, I had earned the right to call myself a “doctor of philosophy”. “
    “Why- that’s outrageous! – You’re a fraud, sir!”
    “Only a certification by a legitimate institution of higher learning gives someone the right to call himself a doctor of philosophy. Did you know, sir, that in Germany you can be thrown into jail for calling yourself a doctor if your PhD has not been acquired at a German university? A German university!” He was apoplectic. I advised him to calm down, given his age, his jowls, and his tendency to overeat at the high table.
    “ I’m curious. How many Berkeley PhD’s are languishing in German prisons?” He hemmed and hawed
    “That’s beside the point. Why I could take your to court right now, for fraud and – and imposture – undermining the credibility of our credentializing system!”
    Afterwards I gave all of this some serious thought. I decided that, since I happened to be visiting a famous university, and since I was not adverse to legitimizing my doctorate, I ought to seek out the Philosophy Department and ask them if they would do so for me.
    Alas! I spent the whole of the next week looking for the Philosophy Department and couldn’t find it! Unfortunately I had to leave, although I’ve been assured that it does exist somewhere.
    So, I ask you: what is all this stuff about the university’s unique right to bestow a PhD, if philosophy itself is hidden away in a rat’s belfry at the top of the most antiquated and neglected building on campus? Who’s “illegitimate” around here?

    (5) On what is being called a “Master’s degree” in Liberal Studies
    An Open Letter about the “Graduate Liberal Studies Program”
    For the last 4 years I have attended 2 month lecture/research courses on Statistical Mechanics and related subjects at the distinguished Institute Henri Poincare in Paris. I now feel that I have sufficient knowledge and background to offer a course entitled “Entropy Explained” with the Greater Liberal Studies Program at Wesleyan University, in the city, Middletown, Connecticut, where I live.
    About a month ago I approached Dr. Brian Stewart, now chairman of the physics department at Wesleyan with this proposal. He agreed with me completely that I am very qualified to give such a course. He pointed out that virtually all GLSP courses are taught by Wesleyan faculty, and that, at a minimum, a Master’s degree is mandatory. Just 15 years ago a strong endorsement by a department and evidences of competence were enough to be admitted to the GLSP faculty.
    Several people have suggested to me that Wesleyan’s concern is that a public recognition of high and dependable standards be guaranteed. This explains, presumably, why the threshold degree level of the GLSP faculty degrees must be the MA, and all its teachers must also hold a regular teaching position at Wesleyan.
    Brian made a call to Sheryl Scullota and pitched my qualifications. From the point of view of activity at Wesleyan, the most prominent of these was my organization of the Einstein Miracle Year centenary in October, 2005. I’ve also given 5 seminars in the Physics Department itself, and maintain an archive on Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Atom Bomb in the lounge of the department. As references to the quality of my command of the subject, and my general work in science, I can recommend Dr. Stewart himself, Dr. Reinhold Blumel, Dr. Tsampikos Kottos, and faculty members in Physics and other departments.
    Ms. Scullota put my name on the list of invitees for the GLSP Open House that took place last night at 6:30 in the USDAN Center. This turned out to be a very good idea, because from this Open House, and from discussions with former GLSP students afterwards, I learned all that I needed to know about the GLSP.

    It turns out that the restrictions of having a Master’s Degree and being on the Wesleyan faculty are not really based on the high quality of teaching. In fact, the purpose of having these credentials in the GLSP catalog is to camouflage the very low quality of the Master’s degree offered by the MALS (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) and the CAS (Certificate of Advanced Study) programs. These are “Adult Education ” courses claiming to be fully professional graduate level courses, with the intention of giving secondary school teachers an MA credential to put into the official documents of their institutions of public education.
    As Adult Ed courses they are, perhaps, at a higher level than the more honestly labeled Adult Education courses offered by the Middletown Board of Education in a building on Main Street, but they do not begin to have the substance of even the excellent Teaching Company DVD sets, in Statistics, Chaos, Philosophy, Art History, Music, Cosmology, Classics, etc….
    The GLSP course listings are totally inadequate to what one must expect from even the minimum requirement for a graduate degree in any subject. Of course, many secondary school or elementary school teachers on their career track are quite happy to cough up $2,250 per course for a 12-course program ($27,500 for the complete program!) that will enable them to boost their status and their income once the letters MA appear after their names on official documents.
    Succinctly, the “high quality” MA of the teachers on the GLSP faculty is in direct inverse proportion to the “low quality” of the material being taught that give its graduate the official and legal right to affix the initials MA after their names.
    A cursory examination of the GLSP catalog bears this out. The lone math course Linear Algebra is not even a college course. It is taught in the senior year of any up-to-date modern high school.
    The content of Noah Berman’s Survey of Jazz Styles can easily be covered by a year’s attendance at all the Buttonwood Tree jazz and folk music concerts, at a fraction of the cost. The concerts that Noah himself gives there are excellent! As for The Graphic Novel : I was raised on a diet of comic books! As for the course on The Origins of Mankind : Any one who wants to learn about the hominids can go to the town library and take out a dozen , perhaps more, first class DVD’s on this and related subjects. The Graduate Liberal Studies Programs in American universities, do not offer a true graduate degree. I stop short of calling it a scam, rather I see it as an “end-run” around the System , a way of getting a deceptive credential for career advancement, having a bit of fun (field trips, do-it-yourself painting, whatever , listening to jazz recordings ) and, of course, a mother lode for Wesleyan’s sorely tried treasury.
    I don’t have the MA but I’m obviously over-qualified to teach a course on Entropy with the GLSP. Believe it or not, I would require from my students some background in algebra and calculus, at least one basic physics course, and a minimum level of general science literacy. My lack of a genuine MA however, does not, unfortunately, qualify me for teaching a course that leads to a bogus MA.

  2. lyra9514 said,

    March 30, 2011 at 12:13 am

    I think people commenting on newspaper articles should also have to cite their sources, and have their comments removed if they don’t.
    For example, some internet presence called “Mark Lyndon” quotes the same statistics on every relevant online article, without ever referencing the original data. Google “In Malawi the HIV rate is 13.2%” and you’ll see what I mean. He has an anti-circumcision agenda and clearly too much spare time…
    Incidentally, if anyone can find the original research I would find it interesting – I’ve had no luck.

  3. Karl Withakay said,

    April 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Interesting. I spend so much time on quality blogs (such as this and Neurological, Respectful Insolence, Science Based Medicine, etc) that when I read certain types of articles that don’t cite the primary sources, I either search for the primary source (if it was a study), or wait for a decent blog to cover the story. Often, I will read about it in the blogosphere before it hits mainstream news anyway. It’s amusing to compare the spin in the regular media compared to what I see in my favorite blogs.

  4. qlmhuge said,

    April 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    This is such an inspiring article.

    There are surely two things that can be done immediately by all who care.

    First, comment wherever you can on the article itself. More and more newspapers let you comment their articles. What not ask, always, “Sources?”

    The other practical thing is to do the service of adding the sources for other readers. Let’s help our journalists out! 😉

  5. scishark said,

    April 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I think its a matter of taking time to actually find the sources, locating them and then finding out where to put them. Recently I tried to write an article
    that was both interesting for the general public and had enough references to be believable, and linking this in was rather difficult. I settled with creating links with each major statement and it kinda works.

    If anyone has any comments on better ways to do this please comment on my site or here


  6. Alec-Ross said,

    April 4, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I remember my first journalism class at University and sources was the most fundamental thing. Alex Lockwood, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland said: “Quoting the correct source gives your article auhenticity and credibility. No story is worth reading without the primary source.”

    I actually just made that up, but you get the idea. It’s a cliche, and I hate to say it, but you can’t believe what you read in the papers.

    Loving Bad Science by the way, just started reading the book – I’m hooked.

  7. fontwell said,

    April 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

    The extent to which journalists are not interested in the truth may be open to debate but in my experience they are mostly interested in an angle and a good narrative above accuracy.

    If you have ever been at an event which was subsequently reported in a news paper you can almost guarantee that some aspect of the story will strike you as spin or just plain wrong.

    I think the only thing you can believe are the match reports on the sports pages and that’s just because there are too many witnesses to get away with stuff up.

  8. scishark said,

    April 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I think its also an issue that some primary sources aren’t free to all users. I’m usually behind an academic intranet where all journals would detect the university’s subscription.

    It would be a shame to link an article only for the reader to realize that it would cost them 50 dollars to read it

    scishark.com/2011/04/cloaking/ – new article about the science behind cloaking


  9. UselessFactoidCollector said,

    April 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I have it from a good source that the admiral of the Dutch Navy in charge of the northern fleet used to use sonar to warn herds of whales that the Norwegian whaling fleet was out and about. He did not know at first whether it would do any good, but figured that it would be annoying for them and that they would escape. He later came to believe that the whales actually knew that it was a warning as opposed to just being scared by the sonar.

    Unfortunately I cannot reveal my source without first asking them if it would be OK.

  10. jon1467 said,

    May 16, 2011 at 12:01 am

    On the subject of journalists failure to produce references this chap uses such evidence (without reference) to justify an attack on the judiciary. I did attempt to find an email address for him to ask for said references but failed to find one. Perhaps someone else may have more luck.

    See Telegraph article:


  11. sleeprunning said,

    June 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Ya’ll may like this from Yanklund — Jonah Lehrer is Not a Neuroscientist – neuroself.com/2011/05/29/jonah-lehrer-is-not-a-neuroscientist/#comment-243

  12. ccsrsj said,

    June 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Prof. Ahn shows that people with shorter heels have larger calves. The Telegraph, the Mail and the Express ALL then mistakenly go on to write about stilettos.

    How did this happen? Probably not coincidental stupidity… None of the articles mentioned bothered to credit an author, so referencing sources in newspapers seems quite some way off yet.

  13. DavidMe said,

    August 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    If they don’t link the primary source then I don’t give the story any weight. If somebody is referencing, quoting or curating content then the original author should always be referenced. Clearly people don’t do it so that ther sensational story isn’t ‘found out’, at least not stratight away.

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  16. Mark Lyndon said,

    November 21, 2014 at 11:51 am


    I don’t normally cite the source, since most commenting systems block comments with links to avoid spam.

    The exact quote would have been something like “Eg in Malawi, the HIV rate is 10.3% among circumcised men, but only 7.9% among intact men. In Rwanda, the HIV rate is 3.5% among circumcised men, but only 2.1% among intact men.”

    These are available here:
    Malawi: www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR247/FR247.pdf table 14.11, p207 (10.3% v 7.9%)
    Rwanda: www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR183/15Chapter15.pdf , table 15.11 (3.5% v 2.1%)

    You could have found those yourself in five minutes as I’ve posted them in enough places where links are allowed. Or you could just have emailed me – I’m easy enough to find.

    Why do I have “too much time on my hands”, when I’m arguing that spending hundreds of millions of dollars circumcising males in Africa is misguided?

    From a USAID report:
    “There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher.”
    This will include many men who have undergone tribal circumcision, but they are also likely to believe that they are protected against HIV.

    The one randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised btw.
    The figures were too small to show statistical significance, but there will be no larger scale study to find out if circumcising men increases the risk to women. Somehow that’s considered unethical, yet it’s considered ethical to promote male circumcision whilst not knowing if the risk to women is increased (by 54%?, 25%?, 80%? – who knows?)