Is this the future of Scientific Journalism?

I switched off the TV this morning as I saw a news flash claiming another scientific breakthrough that can make us live better for longer while we do no exercise and eat whatever we like while using this new compound to lower cholesterol. This sort of thing infuriates me for so many reasons. How irresponsible of the media. Who do they think they are?

The previous morning, I watched a panel of experts discussing politicians making statements regarding vaccinations. They were saying how irresponsible of our politicians to discuss medical policy. Who do they think they are? The morning show host and 2 radio shock jocks with their university degrees in drama and the arts had to give us the real scientific news.

Scientific journalism is getting out of control and damaging our health by inspiring us to make emotional decisions based on fear and greed rather than educated decisions based on the science.

What is worse is that it is now damaging our future and science is now becoming a victim. Science is changing. White papers are used as brochures and marketing material. Failures are hidden instead of celebrated as a new discovery for the scientific community.

The American Council on Science and Health has stated that the field is in a shaddy state. “If journalism as a whole is bad (and it is),” says the council, “science journalism is even worse. Not only is it susceptible to the same sorts of biases that afflict regular journalism, but it is uniquely vulnerable to outrageous sensationalism”.

A recent investigation has been conducted and the results are shared on the infographics below. The lesson for us here is to understand that scientific data needs to be peer reviewed and interpreted by experts in the scientific field.

 

EXAMPLE:

Here is an example of poor scientific journalism and irresponsible branding and marketing departments.

The purpose of this study was to show how overconsumption of highly refined fructose such as high fructose corn syrup in junk food, candy bars, soft drinks / soda pop and added to processed and refined foods can change the sugar composition of breast milk. The exposure of the mother to those sugars and the subsequent insulin resistance and obesity is all linked to the growing epidemic of obesity in our population.

Using a picture of a strawberry a fresh piece of fruit with a heading that fructose poisons your breast milk and makes your kids fat is wrong and misleading and damaging to public health policies. The fact that what looks like sucrose sprinkled over it is even more irrelevant and is not highlighting the point of the story.

With people’s concentration span coupled with desire to follow the references to get the full story we are left with bias, confusion and opinions based on fear and not on education and facts.

http://www.nature.com/news/science-journalism-can-be-evidence-based-compelling-and-wrong-1.21591?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20170309&spMailingID=53581932&spUserID=MjM3Nzg3OTI5NTM0S0&spJobID=1121402588&spReportId=MTEyMTQwMjU4OAS2