Encouraging science illiteracy

Mark Liberman at Language Log:

My point here is that journalists still maintain the presumption that the news media ought to tell the truth about politics, economics, natural disasters, and so on. If it’s shown that fabricated evidence has been presented as if it were true, someone ought to apologize or even get fired. However, it’s clear that there’s no such presumption in the area of science reporting, even when the issues have major public policy implications. Has any journalist ever been disciplined for publishing a source’s fabrications about science, even when a small amount of research would have uncovered the problems? I’ve never heard of a case. Science writing is treated as a form of popular entertainment, of a vaguely utilitarian sort, and even when articles present quantitative “facts” that are completely fabricated, as has recently become common in the case of the “science” of sex differences, there are no consequences.

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