Friday, December 18, 2009

Mooney & Kirshenbaum on Unpopular Science

Some blog followers may be interested in a recent discussion-list post of the above title [Hake (2009). The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum in their Nation article "Unpopular Science” write:

“. . . .the newspaper industry is hemorrhaging staff writers and slashing coverage. . . this trend is killing off a breed of journalistic specialists that we need now more than ever . . . . . who are uniquely trained for the most difficult stories, those with a complex technical component that are nevertheless critical to politics and society.

We live in a time of pathbreaking advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology, of private spaceflight and personalized medicine, amid a climate and energy crisis, in a world made more dangerous by biological and nuclear terror threats and global pandemics. . . . . .The media ought to be bursting with this stuff.

Yet precisely the opposite is happening: even in places where you'd expect it to hold out the longest, science journalism is declining.. . . . . . for a disturbing glimpse of what to expect from a media world with vastly fewer trained science journalists, we need only recount how much of the press managed to bungle the most important science-related story of our time: global warming. . . . .

Can science blogs and science-infused websites fill the gap?. . . the 2008 Weblog Awards, a popularity contest that featured a tight race for Best Science Blog . . . .came down to the religion-basher versus the misinformation-machine, and the misinformation-machine won. That speaks volumes about the form science commentary takes on the internet. . . . .

We must stop assuming today's media will dutifully carry the best and most reliable knowledge to policy-makers and the American public. Rather, it falls to us to shift gears and carry that knowledge to the entirety of the remaining media, and well beyond. In the latter endeavor, we may have to create media of our own.”

To access the complete 17 kB post please click on


Hake, R.R. 2009. “Mooney & Kirshenbaum on Unpopular Science,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at . Post of 14 Aug 2009 15:33:21 -0700 to AERA-L, Net-Gold, and Physoc. The abstract was also distributed to various discussion lists.

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