The media has played substantial part in exposing science to the world. The television shows, programs and movies had both been good and bad at widely disseminating science and also distorting the truth.
Science can be just plain facts as well as debunking. A communication research conducted by Hwang and Southwell (2009) on the Science TV exposure, revealed the
“evidence that stories from a well-funded TV science news project specifically intended to encourage people to view science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as a realm relevant to their everyday lives in fact positively predicts such beliefs, even after controlling for potential explanations for spuriousness.”
Since TV can be influential at this age too, there are two key questions, as science communicators needless to say, should always be cautious of while interacting, collaborating with people and collecting information.
- How do you know who to trust?
- What is your source?
Today, it takes only a few hours and and any debunking is always belated. Long gone the days when journalists had to take a phone, make appointments and interviews with his or her own eyes.This had changed to a click of the mouse and information is available. A journalist would spend most of his or her time on the internet.
Whilst on this sometimes the science is not well represented and reported accurately because of various reasons.
- The reporter collected wrong information
- The writer misinterpreted due to lack of science background knowledge.
- Due to vague assumptions.
So how can these be corrected? It goes back to answering the first two questions, as a communicator. Nonetheless, the information trail is like the ‘Chinese whisper’ that as the information is passed along the trail, it can get distorted, misunderstood or intentionally misrepresented. Sometimes just because everyone is saying something about an issue, it doesn’t mean it is always true.
This video further highlights how communication is not represented well by a team. What challenges are there for a science communicator? Do you think we have a role to play?
Hwang, Y., & Southwell, B. G. (2009). Science TV news exposure predicts science beliefs. Communication Research, 36(5), 724-742.