• experience has suggested that academic
scientists can be as ‗guilty‘ as the popular
press in generating a ‗moral panic‘ causing
mass anxiety and hysteria
• how dementia is represented in the media
is a good surrogate market of how the
issue can be represented in certain
segments of the culture of a society
• the concept of dementia, a term which
they attribute to Celsus in the first century
A.D. — has long carried ―social
implications for those so diagnosed and
has been associated with reduced civilian
and legal competence, as well as with
entitlement to support and protection‖.
• a range of emotionally charged metaphors
about dementia pervades the popular
• these are typically found in newspaper
accounts, political speeches, and in both
documentary and feature films.
• the ‗G8 dementia‘ summit allowed many of
these recurrent motifs to resurface
• I‘ve been intrigued how the G8 Dementia
Summit was covered in the English-
speaking media on the web.
• So I did a Google search for ―G8
dementia‖, on the UK Google site. It only
came up with languages in English
article, and I included the top 75 search
• a preliminary exploration of how the
#G8dementia summit was reported on the
internet in the English language.
• analysis has never been done G8
dementia summit which received
unprecedented media attention
• author names,
• location of authorship of the article (e.g.
• endings, invariably, ―Read more‖ ―You may
also like‖, ―You can read more about‖ and list
of other ‗links‘ to look at
• Exact duplicates,
• one article which was largely a compilation of
tweets was excluded.
• ―research‖ 334 times
• wellbeing‖ is 8 times
• ―data‖ is used 30 times
• ―collaboration‖ 28 times
• ―international 103 times
• ―carers‖ 30 times
• ―social care‖ is used 14 times .
Clear bias towards medical model:
• ―diseases‖, 203 times
• ―treatment‖ or ―treatments‖, 91 times;
• ―cure‖ or ―cures‖ 72
• There‘s clearly a bias towards Alzheimer‘s disease, in that
―Alzheimer‖ was used 145 times, with the word ―vascular‖
used only 6 times. Strikingly, no other forms of dementia were
• Various authors, including the blogger Kate Swaffer who lives
with a dementia herself, have often remarked on this bias
known in the literature as ―Alzheimerisation‖.
• Other conditions mentioned
simultaneously: ―cancer‖ (45 times), HIV
(25 times) and AIDS (29 times).
• Thankfully, the usual dramatic terms were
not used often.
• ―Timebomb‖ was only twice – once by the
• The terms ―bomb‖ or ―bombs‖ were only
used four times. This is encouraging.
• The only use of the word ―tide‖ was in a
direct quotation from a speech by Jeremy
Hunt, current Secretary of State for Health:
• The danger of flooding has long been
associated with dementia.
• A 1982 U.K. report was entitled: ―The
rising tide: Developing services for mental
illness in old age‖ (Arie and Jolley, 1983).
“We have turned the global tide in the battle
against AIDS. Now we need to do it again.
We will bankrupt our healthcare systems if
we don’t,” he said.”
• There is a sample bias introduced with how
Google orders its ranking.
• Page ranking is not only calculated on the
basis of traffic, but also in terms of degree of
linkage with other websites.
• It is possible that higher ranking
articles, particularly online versions of
newspaper articles, have a common root
such as the Press Association, leading to a
lack of independence amongst authors in
their coverage of the Summit.
• Encouragingly though the frequency of words
such as ‗timebomb‘ and ‗flood‘ were not as
much as one might have feared, from the
(albeit small) literature in this field.
• If you assume that the 75 articles form a
representative cohort of copy on the G8
dementia summit, the picture presented has
a clear emphasis on a magic
pharmacological bullet for dementia.
• Whitehouse concludes a recent abstract as
• ―Creating a more optimistic future will depend
less on genetic and reductionist approaches
and more on environmental and
intergenerative approaches that will aid in
recalibrating the study of AD from an almost
exclusive focus on biochemical, molecular
and genetic aspects to better encompass
‗‗real world‘‘ ecological and psychosocial
models of health.‖
• The copy therefore doesn‘t represent a
balanced debate, on behalf of all
stakeholders, but reads like a business
case to invest more in
neuropharmacological-based research into