Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bad science journalism

Almost every day we read something about how a "major breakthrough" has been made in this or that disease, or how some whizbang new technology or discovery has just been made. And almost every time, the actual science is obscured and distorted by the journalists to the point of stupidity. It's almost as if journalists never studied any science...

People who know me know that after ranting about Microsoft, my favourite targets are journalists. So it comes as a major surprise to me to read this piece in the Guardian on bad science journalism. Kudos to them. Here's a quote:
Statistics are what causes the most fear for reporters, and so they are usually just edited out, with interesting consequences. Because science isn't about something being true or not true: that's a humanities graduate parody. It's about the error bar, statistical significance, it's about how reliable and valid the experiment was, it's about coming to a verdict, about a hypothesis, on the back of lots of bits of evidence.