The Decline of Accuracy in Science Communication: Who is to Blame?

The Authorea Team

Proper science reporting can take a while. And it should, as daily science news stories—new treatments, tests, products, and procedures—have a huge impact on consumers. While Americans' trust in the media is at an all-time historical low, still 4 in 10 Americans trust mass media. Many journalists are accused of cutting corners, sacrificing accuracy in an attempt to push interesting (and often false) scientific findings at vulnerable readers.

In Kill or cure?, Paul Battley lists Daily Mail’s "ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it." Below, we've included the list of articles associated with Aspirin, which apparently both causes and prevents cancer.

But Is Media 100% to Blame?

It’s easy to point fingers at journalists, who often have to meet many deadlines in a single day. But findings show that institutions may be to blame for the exaggeration, too. Press releases from universities, organizations, and scientists themselves may oversell research findings to reporters in hopes that it will break through the clutter and make big news. The use of descriptive words, both positive and negative, in research paper titles has increased dramatically over the past few decades.