John Oliver Does Science Communication Right (I Fucking Love Science)

May 15, 2014 | by Stephen Luntz

photo credit: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO). Satirist John Oliver shows how scientific pseudo-debates should be covered

One of the most frustrating experiences scientists, science communicators and anyone who cares about science have is the sight of media outlets giving equal time to positions held by a tiny minority of researchers.

This sort of behavior turns up for all sorts of concocted “controversies”, satirized as “Opinions differ on the Shape of the Earth”. However, the most egregious examples occur in reporting climate change. Thousands of carefully researched peer reviewed papers are weighed in the balance and judged equal to a handful of shoddily writtennumerically flaky publications whose flaws take less than a day  to come to light.

That is, of course, if you ignore the places where the anti-science side pretty much gets free range.

So it is a delight to see John Oliver show how it should be done.
We have only one problem with Oliver’s work. He repeats the claim that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are warming the planet. In fact the study he referred to has 97.1% of peer reviewed papers on climate change endorsing this position. However, these papers were usually produced by large research teams, while the opposing minority were often cooked up by a couple of kooks in their garage. When you look at the numbers of scientists involved the numbers are actually 98.4% to 1.2%, with the rest undecided. Which might not sound like a big difference, but would make Oliver’s tame “skeptic” look even more lonely.
HT Vox, with a nice summary of the evidence


Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/environment/john-oliver-does-science-communication-right#9A4CD6abdJTOOMHK.99

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