A couple of months ago the science minister Lord Drayson was saying that British science journalism is fabulous, the lessons from MMR had been learnt, and so on. I disagreed, and after a bit of chat on twitter I’m very pleased to say that the minister’s office have organised a public discussion on the topic, together with Times Higher and the RI, details below, tickets may go swiftly so I would recommend booking now on 020 7409 2992 or online at www.rigb.org
I think this issue is really important for a number of reasons, and I’m delighted to see a politician taking it seriously. Firstly, the media can mislead the public on individual issues, like MMR. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they mislead the public more insidiously, undermining their understanding of the basics of science, of what it means for there to be evidence that something is good for you or bad for you, of how we gather evidence, and of what scientists actually do. Lastly, it is really important that people who work in science share their passion and their knowledge with the public.
Lord Drayson recently announced that public engagement activity will be rewarded in the Research Assessment Exercise: it’s excellent that the importance of public engagement is being recognised, but to expect that this should be done through the mainstream media, who have proven themselves to be so iffy, is like serving lambs up to the slaughter. I think one of the most interesting parts of the evening – alongside “yes it’s rubbish, no it isn’t” – will be discussions on alternative routes to engage the public in science that bypass the evils of mainstream media.
See you there!
Science reporting: is it good for you?
The Royal Institution, together with Times Higher Education, invites you to join Science Minister Lord Drayson and doctor and author Ben Goldacre (Bad Science) for an open discussion on the state of science reporting in Britain.
Don’t miss this chance to air your views on what’s good and bad about the coverage of science and science-related stories in this country. It’s also an opportunity to reﬂect on the importance of public understanding of science and to share ideas about how best to improve it.
For people unable to attend in person, this free event will be streamed live on the THE website. Viewers will be welcome to participate in the debate via Twitter.
16 September 2009 at 7pm Royal Institution, Albemarle Street London W1S 4BS