Where is the line between scientific fact and making an article sound so catchy that is becomes misleading? It seems that every week scientists have discovered a ‘miracle drug’ or ‘medical breakthrough’, but in reality the science has barely past lab experiments.
The 2012 winner of the “Orwellian prize for journalist misrepresentation” is evidence that in the pursuit of an eye-catching headline, journalists can often ignore the facts in front of them. Is it appropriate that someone with no scientific background can represent years of someone’s work inaccurately to the general public?
“Just one cannabis joint ‘can cause psychiatric episodes similar to schizophrenia’ as well as damaging memory” was credited with 23 points for its confusing inaccuracies; a landslide compared to the previous years score of 17. Points are awarded for factual errors in the title, subtitle or main text of the article on a scale of 1-3. Publishing of this story has been linked to the anti-cannabis campaign the Daily Mail was running at the time so was manipulated to suit their opinion. The problem is escalated when other newspapers follow suit. An average person will get their information through the media, not by a scientific paper, so they aren’t enlightened to the real, unbiased facts. This presents a major problem for science communication.
It seems that for real progression in this field, science articles need to be written by someone with an understanding of the topic and irrespective of current trends and political opinions.