Science Vs. Journalism or Convenient Bedfellows
It appears that you can’t turn on the TV or listen to the radio or read a newspaper these days without a dose of medical advice on latest health risks to the public or the newest breakthroughs, or drugs that can perform circus tricks.
Unfortunately much of this medical information are grossly misleading and/or address cure rather than prevention. Such information often lack context and ignore many other parameters in the body that need to be taken into consideration before such general advice can be relevant or accurate and often end up giving needless reassurance or cause needless worrying.
Context is key and knowing the background of a subject is essential and with an added dose of logic and clarity of thought and understanding information can be analyzed, dissected, and its relevance and accuracy can be established.
For instance, GMO (genetically modified organism) foods are created when a gene from one species is transferred to another, creating something that would not be found in nature. This by itself should be alarming despite Monsanto’s effort to provide grants for universities to indirectly bribe academics into creating disinformation to confuse the subject. Supporters of GMO foods, in almost every possible case, are receiving financial benefits directly or indirectly from Monsanto or Dupont or other chemical companies. At the core of their argument belies their notion that “there is no definitive proof that GMO harms people”. This is obviously a disturbing thought-process since they should be making the argument that “there is absolute proof that GMO does not harm people” instead.
Genetically engineered foods need to be proven to be safe to eat and may leading scientists have suggested that GE foods have unpredictable consequences. When trans-fats were first introduced heavily into our diet in the early part of the 20th century, corporations battled to get them into every food item on the grocery shelves yet after decades gone past it is recognized that many major illnesses, heart conditions, and health problems are the result of trans-fats in our diet. Many leading scientists are worried that the genetically altered foods, once consumed, may pass on their mutant genes to bacterium in the digestive system, just like the canola plants on the roadsides of North Dakota. How these new strains of bacteria may affect our body systems’ balance is anybody’s guess. This extremely important information is not being discussed or presented via nationwide news media.
Scientific community no longer comprises of those that are highly respected and accomplished individuals and organizations whose prior work is recognized by other highly respected scientists and knowledgeable experts. For most of 20th century scientific community relied on major publications and scientific magazines, such as New Scientist and others, to release the latest ideas and discoveries. But these days anyone who is a researcher at a university and gets their grant from Monsanto is regarded as an expert from the newly defined scientific community – simply because they are studying at a university, without any scrutiny by real scientists and experts who can comment on the validity of their work or critique their conclusions.
On the other hand reporters get paid for content and in a ever competing world of media, they have to create the biggest headline to get the attention to have their audience pay attention and read their work. Without this attention grabbing headline, they will not have the ability to make money from advertising or subscriptions. Therefore they “create” exaggerated headlines pressured by the desire to produce an exciting story that leads them to make conclusions that are inaccurate or absent of other relevant information that gives a much clearer understanding of the published studies. And we all know that bad news is inherently more compelling that good news.
Conclusive and reliable information depends of the science of clarity which can only be achieved by understanding the details. Headlines and 21st century journalism is more often based on grabbing attention of readers with the spotlight on sensationalism, eye-popping visual effects, the intensity of the tone of the reporter, the sound bites, the often unqualified so-called ‘experts’, and witnesses that are not often scrutinized enough to establish credibility.
Even peer review is not what it use to be. Peer review was when experts in the field had judged a study to be of sufficient quality, relevance, and importance to deserve the merit of publication as was the case with The New Scientist, The Journal of Medicine, Journal of Medical Association, etc.
Today’s scientific information and the supposed journalism are combined to create a rigorous deficiency in quality-control process that leads to a biased and misrepresenting news provider (e.g. Monsanto funded researchers) whom behave more like the judge, the jury, and the executioner feeding un-fettered medical advice or conclusions on studies without establishing any credibility whatsoever – all thanks to a competitive environment that feeds off of the “winner take all” mentality. Now success is measure by the size of the bank account which leads to not what is good for the public but what is good for the beneficiaries. This is why a near $50 million media advertising campaign by chemical companies wins the public’s vote to deprive the public of the right to know the real information about ‘real’ studies that show GMO harms people and hence the proposition in California to label GMO loses the vote to give people the freedom to know what is in their food.