Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Anna Westland discusses how the media can provide the general public with a common misconception about a scientific issue by trying to create a ‘shock factor’, and how scientists and journals alike can alleviate the problem by becoming more understandable and accessible.

The science stories that attract the most attention are often the more controversial ones, but sometimes science is simply miscommunicated to the public. While most now realise that much of the research, like that linking MMR vaccines with autism, was fraudulent, people often still believe the views of the mainstream media. Topics such as genetically modified organisms and stem cell research are still painted in a negative light, as often the mainstream media prefers to concentrate on the more shocking aspects of research rather than actually asking scientists what the applications of their studies are. Scientists are infamous for not being able to communicate well, or simply not bothering to, but this is something that is now changing.
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