(Source: http://www.ipp.mpg.de/w7x - Homepage of the Max-Planck institute in Greifswald, which operatesWendelstein 7-X is the world’s largest fusion device of the stellarator type. Its objective is to investigate the suitability of this type for a power plant.
You're absolutely right, that people should not be satisfied with a news story about some event without checking into sources.
people come away with a false impression just because they only read the headline.
People don't have time to fully read anything these days. Marketers know this extremely well and craft catchy and sometimes down right deceiving headlines. It's the problem with news information being a business. Social media has made it worse.
I have read a quotation posted by my nephew on the US election, determined to influence opinions. As I've looked up the sources of that article, I've found the first seven sources have been a self-quotation of formerly posted statements on the same website and the eighth has been a FOX news report ...I'm willing to bet extremely few people outside the relevant specialty give any time to investigating sources.
Flow chart for claims of major proofs:
Is it sent to one of the leading journals?
-- No: It is not a valid proof
-- Yes: Did it pass peer review?
-----In progress: It is probably not a valid proof
-----No: It is not a valid proof
-----Yes: It gets interesting. Did a mathematician find a flaw within 2 years?
--------Yes: It is not a valid proof.
--------No: It is probably a valid proof.
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016...eate-tabloid-science-headline-five-easy-stepsSo, without further ado, the recipe for transforming a modest developmental biology paper into a blockbuster story, as it played out yesterday in the media:
- Take one jargon-filled paper title: "Mice produced by mitotic reprogramming of sperm injected into haploid parthenogenotes"
- Distill its research into more accessible language. Text of Nature Communications press release: Mouse sperm injected into a modified, inactive embryo can generate healthy offspring, shows a paper in Nature Communications. And add a lively headline: "Mouse sperm generate viable offspring without fertilization in an egg"
- Enlist an organization to invite London writers to a press briefing with paper’s authors.
Headline of Science Media Centre press release: "Making embryos from a non-egg cell"
- Have same group distribute a laudatory quote from well-known and respected scientist:
“[It’s] a technical tour de force.”
- Bake for 24 hours and present without additional reporting. Headline in The Telegraph: "Motherless babies possible as scientists create live offspring without need for female egg," and in The Guardian: "Skin cells might be used instead of eggs to make embryos, scientists say."
I've never before read so much "quotes" of questionable content than in this year's campaigns. Even if I didn't search for their origin doesn't mean I believed them. Mostly I took it as an entertainment.You are not the average reader :)
But how many of the members of the general public will (i) do that and (ii) be able to understand the technical details of the paper?
That is true: It is a research reactor designed to test the plasma. It had test plasmas already. Now they are installing a better divertor, with the aim to increase the plasma pressure and pulse duration afterwards. At no point do the articles claim that the reactor would have had fusion reactions or other similar wrong things. Calling Wendelstein 7-X a "fusion reactor" is misleading, but that is done by the scientific community as well.People will think that the stellerator is now working and they’re moving on to the next phase.
Journalism adapts to whatever the target audience wants to read. If many people prefer fake/misleading news over actual news (for whatever reason: sounds better, fits better to their world view, ...), then they get fake/misleading news.IMO weak journalism is the real danger to our modern democracies.
Sounds a bit like the hen-egg-paradox. I seriously doubt, that worse journalism leads to better orders.Journalism adapts to whatever the target audience wants to read. If many people prefer fake/misleading news over actual news (for whatever reason: sounds better, fits better to their world view, ...), then they get fake/misleading news.
At least for one of the magazines I can tell that quality deteriorated in the last decade. So less quality doesn't imply better order figures. Thus it is at least questionable, that people like to read bad journalism.What does that plot show, apart from the general decline of printed newspapers and some different historic development of those two particular newspapers?
But neither does the simple claim thatBut even then there are many things that can influence the success of a newspaper, reducing that to a single number does not work.
This might apply to media like FOX news, The Sun or similar with an automatic high demand, but I doubt that this simple rule of economy also applies to markets with lower demands without adjustments in form of restrictions or initial values. Adam Smith isn't the cure for everything.Journalism adapts to whatever the target audience wants to read.
A nice article!
I'm not sure if Wendelstein was the best example:
That is true: It is a research reactor designed to test the plasma. It had test plasmas already. Now they are installing a better divertor, with the aim to increase the plasma pressure and pulse duration afterwards. At no point do the articles claim that the reactor would have had fusion reactions or other similar wrong things. Calling Wendelstein 7-X a "fusion reactor" is misleading, but that is done by the scientific community as well.
I have seen far worse news on similar websites.
Wendelstein did more than checking the magnetic field already, and without a scientific education it is hard to follow the details of that. "Wendelstein tests things about fusion, they did some tests of their new machine, the tests were successful" is already something correct to take away.They ALL had different answers EXCEPT for the most important part, which was the verification of the magnetic field, which was the whole point of the publication that was cited.