Do not take their advice, they are not known for their brains! January 7, 2009Posted by dorigo in internet, news, science.
Tags: journalists, media, pseudoscience, science reporting
Sense about Science, the british organization which
respond[s] to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation […],
has issued their 2008 report on many dangerous claims held by celebrities about scientific issues, exposing their falsity and the scientific facts that prove it. The claims that the Tom Cruises, the Mariah Careys, the Kelly Osbournes distribute are dangerous not so much for their content, but because of the enormous amplification those claims get by the media, always hunting for anything connected to famous people.
While commendable, the report is a drop in the sea, as it does not address the source of the problem: the pseudo-scientific approach that newspapers and other media deliberately choose to support. It is in fact the responsibility of the journalists if those claims are reported without commentary or the opinion of a scientist. It would take them the effort of a phone call in most instances, but they fear to bore or distract their readers. That is nonsense! Really, the newspapers and magazines would not sell fewer copies if they appended a few lines of healthy, matter-of-fact criticism to the farnetications of the starlet on duty.
My suggestion would be to expose the journalists rather than the celebrities! A well-organized site targeting professional writers and commenters would go a longer way in this fight against the diffusion of pseudo-science, because these people do it for a living. SAS does not seem to be aiming in that direction. Are readers of this blog aware of any such enterprise ? It would get my support.
In any case, the SAS report is interesting. You can download it from this link for an entertaining break. Happy reading!