Monday, March 17, 2008
It's been discussed before on the Bayblab (in the comments here, for example) about the state of public understanding of science, and how more mainstream attention to science news and issues could help that problem. It's a bit of a chicken and egg dilemma: The media (for the most part) reports on what people want to hear, but how do people get interested if they never hear about science? Matt Nisbet at Framing Science highlights the issue, pointing out a study that shows for 5 hours of cable news, only 1 minute of that will be science covereage. Looking at the numbers Nisbet quotes, I might be more generous and say it's 6 minutes (lumping in 'the environment' and 'health and health care' with science), but that's still a miniscule fraction of reporting. I've said before that if a newspaper can devote a full weekly section to "wheels" or "food" then surely it can spare the pages for a science section. What needs to change? Does the media need to be more active in reporting science? Does education need to change so people are more aware of science issues? Or is 10 minutes of celebrity news to 1 minute of science a ratio that everybody is happy with?