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Is academia to blame for pop science hype?


Yes, actually. It’s not just pop media pursuing clickbait in search of ad revenue (much as things may seem that way):

A paper published in 2014 in The British Medical Journal analyzed 462 press releases issued by universities in the UK. They found that “40%… of the press releases contained exaggerated advice, 33%… contained exaggerated causal claims, and 36%… contained exaggerated inference to humans from animal research.”

The authors also discovered that if a press release contained exaggerated information, news reports were also likelier to contain exaggerations. Specifically, the odds of exaggerated advice were increased 6.5 times, the odds of exaggerated causal claims were increased 20 times, and the odds of exaggerated inference to humans from animal research was increased 56 times. In other words, university press offices greatly influence the tone of subsequent media coverage. Alex Berezow, “Blame Academia For Junk Science And Media Hype?” at American Council on Science and Health

Nothing’s changed except that in the era of media meltdowns, fake news, Twitter wars, and mass layoffs of journalists, it’s more intense than ever. So keep in mind, when you hear nonsense coverage of issues that concern us: The writer may be 27 years old and not know anything, and soon be looking for a job doing something else.

There are indeed remarkable breakthroughs happening out there but, as the study showed, the relationship between hope and hype is often not as advertised. 

Pop hype is possibly more common in coverage of artificial intelligence (AI) than anywhere else. See also: Top Ten AI hypes of 2018 Robert J. Marks)

That robot is not self-aware (Jay Richards)


It’s 2019: Begin the AI hype cycle again! (Jonathan Bartlett)

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Well, at least the pop sci hype entertains the gullible masses. :( PeterA

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