One rotten apple? Photo by Sparrow’s Friend.
In this week’s Bad Science column Ben Goldacre eviscerates science journalism in the UK. He lays the blame for poor science reporting firmly at the door of humanities graduates in the media. As a Humanities graduate with an interest in science I’ll say that he is 75% correct +/- 5% error.
There is a problem not simply in the reporting of science in the media, but with the attitude of many in Humanities to Science. Andrew Ross’s acknowledgment “This book is dedicated to all of the science teachers I never had. It could only have been written without them.” in Strange Weather, Culture, Science, and Technology in the Age of Limits is, with all due respect, one of the most unutterably moronic statements of all time.
What would you say of a History department that insisted that its students read no books, to prevent them from being prejudiced by the evidence? My problem is not so much with Ross, who at least is kind enough to broadcast his book is worthless at the beginning, thus preventing many wasted hours. It is with an academic environment that considers such an academic a credible person. You could argue that Ross’s position is more subtle than I paint it, but it’s only the bold strokes that will be seen by mediocre undergraduates and that’s what they’ll take with them when they go into journalism.