By Ken Perrott 11/05/2016 1


This video is getting plenty of coverage – and despite its length, it is worth watching. The humour helps, of course. You certainly won’t be bored if you commit the 20 minutes required to watch the video right through.

Oliver warns about the way journalists often misrepresent the science. Further, he is warning that often the science itself is suspect – or even no good.

It’s a warning we should all take on board. If we are interested in understanding something, and not just cherry-picking to confirm an existing ideological bias, then we have to approach what we read in the media about science critically and thoughtfully. Not accepting things at face value. Nor interpreting a journalist attempt at a false balance as somehow authenticating an article.

Hell, all good working scientists know that we should approach the peer-reviewed scientific literature itself in the same critical way. So we should hardly be more gullible when it comes to the media reporting of science.

I do get annoyed at the way our media often presents scientific issues in simplistic and shallow ways.

But then again, I also get very annoyed at the way our media presents important political issues in the same way – or even worse. Just look at the disgraceful way our media covers important issues like the war in Syria.

 


One Response to “Don’t be fooled by simple media “science””

  • To some extent, the media has to present scientific and other issues in a “simplistic way”. It is hard enough for scientists to understand other scientists at times. Nonscientists have little hope of understanding a scientific issue if it isn’t simplified. Of course, if you are a scientist listening to it, it may well make you cringe. I guess that scientists who also have teaching responsibilities must be less annoyed by it. There is a BIG difference between simplification and misrepresentation! The latter is BAD! Simpification is not bad, but it may entail a small amount of unavoidable misrepresentation.