Ben Goldacre of the Guardian, has a major beef with the poor standard of science reporting in the media. And who can blame him?
You read the newspapers, you listen to the radio, you watch television and scientists and researchers are claiming this, that and the other, to the extent that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the public to decide what is absolute fact and what is more debatable.
Perusing the media we can see that exercise makes you fat, coffee makes you see dead people, and Facebook causes cancer, the list is endless – what are we, the public, to make of these apparently scientific facts? The swine flu issue is now under close examination – with claims that lobbying by pharmaceutical companies managed to increase the hype and perceived danger, for their own advantage. Lobbying by industries is seen as a legitimate function but what are the implications for the reporting of scientific fact? And if that wasn’t enough, the reporting of scientific evidence surrounding climate change is a highly contentious area, not least exemplified by Channel 4’s Great Global Warming Swindle and more recently by the data leaked from University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. With two such entrenched camps in the debate, how balanced is the media in its scientific reporting?
During the Darwin Lecture Series, CB3 met Ben and asked him to justify his anger at scientific reporting in the media.