I am generally a fan of science in the news. I’m honestly a believer that some public coverage, regardless of how basic or general, is good for science because the more people hear about what’s going on, the more likely they are to care. Call it wishful thinking, or call it naivety, but it seems like we have to keep talking about science (and not only amongst ourselves) in order to spread the word. I read a book by Chris Mooney called Unscientific America that describes the divide between scientists, the media, legislators, and the American public. Though it didn’t do a very good job of providing solutions to the scientific illiteracy it critiques, the book did explore the disconnect between the scientific community and the rest of the country. With scientific findings being the “supposed” underpinnings a large amount of legislation, especially in areas of energy reform and health policy, this disconnect between science and policy is especially frightening.
All of this, actually, is just my circuitous way of sharing a really funny article from MindHacks that my friend Brett showed me (copied below)… My favorite parts are “Rhetorical Question?” and “Caution about over-interpretation. Over-interpretation.” Haha So sad, but it is a great characterization of how much of science news ends up being presented.
Dramatically titled neuroscience story
Question about your life. Introduction to a thematically related tragedy. Promise of hope.
Over-simplified premise. Mention of a brain part and an inadequately explained technology in the same sentence.
Dramatic claim of a breakthrough.
Researcher and affiliation. Description of motivation related to a minor personal detail.
Overly-technical account of experiment.
Allusion to a controversy.
Quote from the researcher. Quote from another researcher.
Caution about over-interpretation. Over-interpretation. Mention of future work.
Genuinely insightful point.
Earnest but misleading conclusion. Optimistic ending.