Another Demonstration of Media’s Role in Science Policy

Nov 2, 2011 by Daniel

Above is a link to an opinion piece on a financial website. What would this have to do with science?

The piece claims that the global warming debate is settled; the new consensus is that global warming is caused by nature, not by humans.

There is some rationality at work here–there has indeed been an interesting discovery about cosmic rays being involved in cloud formation. Interesting, but nowhere near enough to “settle” the global warming debate.

And then we see this helpful information at the bottom:

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

Clearly there is no small amount of bias present. Clearly there is no further evidence of “scientific consensus.” But sure enough, the news spread like wildfire and required rebuttals, as demonstrated in the following link.

But then we turn our sights to another media release announcing a potential AIDS vaccine, and we note the emphasis on facts, the guarded tone and caution for making surefire statements, and the discussion of potential for the future rather than the end of a debate, and we see a) how the media can successfully report on science and b) how it is intrinsically different in presentation from what could be termed damaging media reports. So how do we make people aware of this difference, and how do we also convince the media that objective (relatively speaking–see previous post) reporting is a much greater benefit to society than fear-mongering or supposed debate-winning?