When journalists don’t coordinate with scientists, the public suffers from misinformation

, | July 13, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A few weeks ago in this space, we wrote about the bias toward sensationalist science reporting:  lazy journalists report the press release and present the results in traditional scientist-as-hero mode, while the more thoughtful members of the press see through the hype and want no part of it.  The result is that readers are exposed only to the puffery but only rarely to the skepticism.

Here’s an example.  Recently, one of us received the following email from a reporter for the news section of the journal Nature:

“The paper is about paedophiles being more likely to have minor facial abnormalities, suggesting that paedophilia is a neurodevelopment disorder that starts in the womb. We’re a bit concerned that the stats look weak though—small sample size, no comparison to healthy controls, large SD, etc.

“If you have time, could you take a quick look and let me know if the statistics seem to be strong enough to back up their conclusions? Thepaper is here:

We spent a few minutes looking at the article in question and replied:  “Yes, I agree, I don’t find this convincing, also it’s hard to know what to do with this.  It doesn’t seem newsworthy to me.  That said, I’m not an expert on this topic.”  And the reporter followed our advice and did not cover the article.

So, good news, but you can see the bias.  The study was covered in various high-profile news outlets including the London Times and Daily Telegraph, with the latter report being entirely uncritical (for example, using the words “researchers discovered” and “found,” rather than “claim”).

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Don’t mistake genetic for fate

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
a a b b a f ac a

Video: Death by COVID: The projected grim toll in historical context

The latest statistics, as of July 10, show COVID-19-related deaths in U.S. are just under 1,000 per day nationally, which is ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
types of oak trees

Infographic: Power of evolution? How oak trees came to dominate North American forests

Over the course of some 56 million years, oaks, which all belong to the genus Quercus, evolved from a single undifferentiated ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend