Monday, September 19, 2005

Somerby on Science

Now this is a very good post on the nature of science and the 'simple' stories that the press likes to tell. Bob has been a long time critic of the way the press dumbs down important stories. Too much of the news is broken into simple he said/she said type of presentation. Also, the press seems to be determined to present some simple narrative to every story that is brought up. The press has an absurd aversion to uncertainty and ambiguity. Bob links to this article by Harvard Physics Professor Linda Randall in which she discusses the uncertainty that is inherent in any new scientific research. She goes on to lament the extent to which descriptions of recent results so often fail to present any ambiguity and uncertainty. Results are too often presented as some kind of clear certainty. This is a grave disservice to the public who see some conclusion presented as a positive result only to have that overturned a few months or years later. Place your favorite food related warning here. It is an excellent read, both the original article and Bob's commentary.

One thing I take exception to, however, is the claim that the public won't accept the ambiguity. I don't believe that is the case. I think the public, by and large, will accept the uncertainty, it is the pundits and commentators that do not.

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At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Corey Esquer said...

Well, that could be true.


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