"‘‘Spin’’ was identified in 17 (41%) abstracts, 19 (46%) press releases, and 21 (51%) news items."They even give an explicit example of how a report on acupuncture in breast cancer patients that showed no statistical significance ended up being reported (in the abstract, the PR release and the mainstream media) as showing a reduction in hot flashes and improved sex drive for the patients!
This report focused on just medical research arena, but even in the fields of polymers and chemistry, the same insanity occurs, albeit probably to a smaller degree. I've discussed numerous examples of this over the years, including such overhyped claims of the invention of the perfect polymer, or cashiers having higher doses of BPA in their urine, both of which were not supported by their own research. In all these cases, you don't have to have inside knowledge of the field of research. You just have to read the articles, see what conclusions the researchers reach, and then compare them to the hype [*]. Sure, some of the articles do have tremendous amounts of jargon and technical details that can scare you away, but the analysis and conclusions are written with a great amount of non-jargon that anyone with a high school education can read.
I am never surprised by the overhyping that occurs in PR blurbs, as these blurbs are released by the PR department and not the researchers themselves, although I think that the researchers, en masse would have enough weight to have some serious influence over that department. But the fact that abstracts will also overexaggerate is what I found to be really bothersome. This indicates not only poor reviewing of the paper by the referees, something that is entirely unnecessary and avoidable, but also some complicity on the part of the authors. All of this leads to a further degradation of science in the public's eye, and we have only ourselves to blame.
[*] I always spend the extra time whenever I review research to ensure that my posts have the needed links so that everyone can read the articles and reach their own conclusions about what I am saying. It's a hassle, but it is necessary in my mind to maintain credibility (and why I try to focus as much as possible on free/open access articles).