"Science" news

Last week, while reading the local paper I saw this article about Sarah Brightman postponing her trip to space. The article goes on to say that she refers to "family reasons", how much she was supposed to pay for the trip and who was the last person to take such trip. But, why am I bringing this article to your attention? Because the article was (and still is 5 days after) in the Science section, more specifically under the Astronomy and space news of the newspaper. This is not the first time that I see this type of news being presented as science, but it's the first time I talk about it here.

You see, I have no problem with this being considered news, for they are after all, pieces of new information. I even understand the intention of (maybe) trying to use such subjects to lure readers with into a more science oriented article or even an article that gives a bit more info (in this case) about the International Space Station (ISS). But often all it ends up being is yet another gossip like article, with nothing to do with the section it has been placed on.

The increase of this type of articles is not due to the lack of scientific news. On the same day alone, there was news about 3 astronauts that will have to stay at the ISS for at least a month more. This article (on the website of the same local paper) was shared 2 times; Brightman's article was shared 98 times.

So it would look like the reason why articles such as Brightman's keeps spreading, not only in the science section, but others too is that people seem to be more interested by a soprano canceling a trip than news of people already there, with actual information on ISS. But then the next question would be: why not use her article to give people more information?

We or rather the newspaper assumes then, that people don't care about said information and hence gives them less actual science news. And so people see even less science news and more about people's vacations. It is a vicious circle. The general public is offered less and less scientific input and whit less offer there is no higher demand, or at least not yet. The problem becomes not just that the public seems to not be interested on science news, but the fact that the newspaper answers by offering even less science news.

This is one of the reasons why news with "stars" giving their personal opinions as scientific advice has so much momentum. We are putting this type of news to the same level, and then it's no wonder that the general public will take scientific studies and voices from "The View" as having the same weight. Once again, this problem doesn't only apply to science, also to politics and economy. People taking advice about very important subjects (vaccination, mortgages, laws passing) from others that have as much or even less knowledge than they do, but that somehow have become revered for their screen time.

We cannot just blame the general public being misguided on the voices of "famous people". We have to also consider, how much real information is being shared with the public, and more importantly, how this information is being presented. We need more real science news in the science section but we should also work on making them as appealing as vedette's news have become. This shouldn't be that hard, when you think how amazing and mind blowing science can be. Let's put more science out there people!, let's make it more accessible! Let's work on not letting real science news being drown by yet more celebrity news about their latest diet or vacation misshapen.

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