Intelligent Design

A tale from the decline of science journalism: Facts don’t matter

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From Alex Berezow at ACSH:

Recently, the website Undark, whose publisher is science writer Deborah Blum, published an op-ed by an environmental activist who told lies and half-truths about the safety of glyphosate. This was particularly striking because the website’s editorial team and advisory board have several high-profile names in science journalism, and the site’s stated mission is “true journalistic coverage of the sciences.”

So he wrote to her. After some further business, she replied:

He now responds:

That’s a stunning admission from a journalist. In other words, because it’s an op-ed, facts don’t matter. Buzz off. Would her response be the same if Undark published an article questioning evolution, climate change, or vaccines? For the sake of the truth, let’s hope not. More.

One hesitates to press the point, but when facts don’t matter, they don’t. And Berezow can’t really hope to choose for others which facts that don’t matter are to be highlighted or ignored, any more than he can tell them how to choose toppings for their ice cream sundae.

Science media today are unusually bad for several reasons. One is self-importance. They defend “science” against its enemies, real and imagined. What scientists, like artists and athletes, need from media is well-informed constructive critics.

And here we are not even getting into paid partisanship…!

See also: Science writing in an age when we ran out of pom poms to wave

2 Replies to “A tale from the decline of science journalism: Facts don’t matter

  1. 1
    timothya says:

    It might help if you made clear what your scientific evidence is regarding the safety of glyphosate usage (for example: measurable safe dosage rates, half-life in the human environment, differential toxicity between species, mutagenicity etc etc). You know, the stuff that environmental scientists obsess about.

  2. 2
    johnnyb says:

    I, too, worry about the safety of the food supply with the many chemicals we have added to it. A growing number of my family members are having to do strange diets for medical reasons dealing with their body’s reaction to the food they are eating.

    However, I was shocked at Deborah’s response. She didn’t correct the facts or make an argument in response, but just said, “it’s an op-ed, so facts don’t matter”. That is truly disgusting behavior, if it fairly represents the exchange.

    On the other hand, I don’t know if the real beast is glyphosate, worsening, genetics, or some other cause, but I think that we are all seeing a dramatic increase in strange, autoimmune-like diseases in every age range, which is at least partially alleviated through food choice. The pro-Monsanto group seems to also miss this blatantly obvious fact. I don’t know if it can be laid at Monsanto’s feet or has some other cause, but too many people are treating the problem like it doesn’t exist.

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