Popular Science Coverage

The Guardian has a weekly “Bad Science” column, mostly exploring a poor interpretation of an experiments results, usually on the part of mass media. This week’s column, Don’t dumb me down, takes on the question of why mainstream media coverage of science is so bad. At the expense of some potshots at humanities scholars – who are all lumped in with a particular type of anti-scientific mindset – Goldacre does put together a fairly comprehensive list of the classes of mischaracterization in science stories, making for a nice crib sheet for when to question a science story. The fault, which Goldacre only hints around at the end, is at the feel of both scienists who are not interested in making their work accessible and journalists who assume scientist’s work cannot be both accessible and engaging. I’ve always believed you shouldn’t be able to get a PhD without being able to explain, to someone from a wildly unrelated field, what you did and why it was interesting. I think that simple exercise, applied to more research projects, could do a lot to help things along. Because the underlying point, that mainstream science coverage is dangerously inaccurate, is definitely valid. [via Slashdot]

3 thoughts on “Popular Science Coverage

  1. I really like the focus on science sometimes being uncertain and even unintuitive. I would not have thought of the impact this would have on media coverage of news stories, but the argument made seems plausible.

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