Why do the media cover science so poorly?
A columnist in "The Guardian" posed that question earlier this month, coming up with examples of science writing that he says were overly simplistic, poorly written and in some cases just plain wrong.
The author came up with several theories as to where the problem lies: news budgets favor more outlandish claims rather than minor updates; scare stories get exaggerated for effect; and science gets "dumbed down" to make it more appealing to the lay reader.
But a bigger problem lies in the journalists themselves, most of whom are not scientists and have no science background. That argument seems to fit the thinking of the bloggers, many of whom shared their own tales of misunderstood and misreported science.
Blog community response:
"I do fundamentally agree that humanities graduates are now taught to mistrust science and push the idea of it as just one of many competing discourses."
"It's true though: when we published some of the data from the project I'm working on (hint: it has to do with telomeres), we got a few reports in semi-respectable media outlets. They made it sound like we had found the cure for aging."
"A bit tetchy, perhaps, but still insightful. Britain has a long history of antipathy towards science, technology and engineering, despite our country's vital contribution to them all."