Science suffers from faked sense of controversy

Science news coverage of the BBC is good and actually improving over time. But journalists will have to better distinguish between proven facts and opinions, in order not to misrepresent the state of scientific research.

In order to improve public understanding, the weight of the science coverage should be where the scientific consensus lies, not where a potential for controversy can be found.

These are findings of a review by Imperial College Londen, which has looked into the quality and impartiality of the British national broadcaster, one of the largest and most influential news media in the world.

The report states ‘undue attention to marginal opinion’ has for instance led to public misunderstandings about the risks of GM crops, vaccination schemes and disbelieve that humans cause the Earth’s climate to change – views that do not represent those of the majority of scientists within respective disciplines.

Let’s not shy away here from complimenting the BBC on opening themselves to such investigation and to what we perceive to be excellent [though sometimes flawed, sometimes politically correct] science reporting – comparing the BBC to other leading news media, many of which seem to work by lower journalistic standards. On the positive side this means the world media would have a lot of room for improvement.

And from that we wonder: if science news coverage were to ameliorate – would the general public also come to different environmental prioritisations?

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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