Articles

sloppy scientists, sloppy journalism

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Last Friday, at least in the UK, there was a big news story about a new study that showed that babies in buggies facing away from their mothers were more stressed than those facing towards their mums, and that those stressed babies would grow up into axe-wielding maniacs. OK, I exaggerate, but only a bit. Really, the completely unsupported claims being made by this research and the way they’ve all been picked up uncritically by the media does make one despair – read the polite but firm critique of the study on the NHS “behind the headlines” pages; they conclude that “… the results have been over-interpreted and may cause parents unnecessary anxiety.” An example of an over-zealous researcher, probably having the best of intentions, actually doing harm.

Talking of sloppy journalism a recent news story in the Times about the tories being taught the basics of the scientific method seemed happily to confuse understanding the basis of evidence-based policy (which from my conversations with people who move in those sorts of circles has a very different idea of what ‘evidence’ is) with understanding scientific principles of (e.g.) stem cell research or nuclear power. It’s all so full of sloppy thinking and a lack of acuity – scientists, the media and politicians all guilty. Oh well, though has it ever actually been any different?

But thank heavens, eh, for us bloggers; restoring some much needed accuracy and impartiality to international discourse…

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