Alerts flood your home screen when you wake up in the morning. A text from a friend, a linkedin notification, a calendar reminder for an important meeting, and a news alert reading “Bacon, Ham, Sausage as Dangerous as Smoking: Report.”
With the escalation of constant access to media and the media’s desire to capture their user’s attention, our relationship with scientific information is undoubtedly changing. Is the media ruining science?
When information is disseminated as a constant flow, the public often takes anything they read as fact. Individuals may assume the information is credible and do not take a moment to second guess what they are absorbing. In order to consume media about issues that are either factual or not and are highly consequential, we all must be critical readers. Think about the study an article cited, because often it is not a credible survey, instead one that is generalized, has experimental flaws, and may not be representing exactly what the article frames it to. Because our attention spans are so short, the media strives to draw attention, either ethically or unethically. Often scientific headlines will be flashy, giving up complete accuracy in order to get people to click on it. Media is making science clickbait, gossip, and sensationalized.
One cannot say the media is ruining science because the two have become so intertwined. Without science, we would not have the tools to create the media. On the other hand, without the media, people would not be as aware of the scientific discoveries happening everyday. It is better to educate individuals with science happening around them and risk the unethical articles and studies that will appear than to not make science accessible to the common person. If science media consists only of academic journals, those who are interested in science, yet do not have a master’s degree in a scientific area, will not be able to fully understand a finding that could be very consequential for them. Media makes science easy to access, therefore making everyone more aware of the important steps scientists are taking everyday.
Written by: Sara Siqueira