Please read the entire article, an interesting discussion about the problems in adequately reporting science to the public. In short, there must be a collaboration between reader, scientist, and journalist.
5 January 2007
The process of science [or sciencing mpb] is far less linear than the media’s image of a neat series of breakthroughs suggests. Elmien Wolvaardt describes how simplistic reporting can distort.
The problem-solving ‘breakthrough’ science of the media is far from the messy truth….
The media’s portrayal of science as objective and self-policing is, said Borchelt, “a narrative of hubris: it perpetuates the view that science is a linear process of steps and breakthroughs, and gives no account of the trials and errors that actually occur along the way.”
Borchelt, a former press officer in the United States’ Clinton administration, expressed concern that this image creates unrealistic expectations that science always gets it right. “When the inevitable errors then occur, confidence in scientific enterprise is eroded, eventually cultivating a cynical public,” he said…. “We must emphasise the fact that science is an incremental process, with many wrong turns and blind alleys — which is why it is important to report negative results.”
…Such journalism, said Borchelt, focuses on the processes, methods and people of science — a crucial element of science reporting.
“The processes of science are actually quite boring. Of course, if there is an interesting product or result at the end of the day, the processes by which this was reached can be interesting to read. But I don’t think most people want to read about the average day of the working scientist.”
He adds, “However, it is very important for science journalists to understand the processes of science. This understanding should inform the way we report its products and results – which can include negative results.”
Wolfgang Goede, editor of the successful German popular science magazine PM and co-founder of the World Federation of Science Journalists, says journalists don’t report on the process of science because “very few of us have been trained and, more importantly, encouraged to look at science as if it were a political party or a public enterprise — those things we have been brought up to criticise.”