And in science news … can we have more science news?


Why is science not delivered as part of our routine news bulletins in the same way as, say, business and sport?

Enter a group from the University of Queensland, who yesterday posted an open letter to radio station Triple J and initiated an online petition asking that the station include at least 20 seconds of science news in its hourly news updates.

The group, calling itself And in Science, has garnered wide support for its goals of increasing science reporting in news, including from the doyen of science reporters, Robyn Williams.

Give them what they want

The Australian National University’s ANUPoll of 2010 showed some interesting data regarding how Australians view science.

It is noteworthy that more Australians were interested in hearing about health issues, new medical discoveries, environmental issues, new scientific discoveries and new inventions and technologies than they were about sport or politics.

Written By: Peter Ellerton
continue to source article at


  1. We could do with more science related reporting here in SA.An indigestible chunk of inane ANC doings and far too much sport on the menu is everyday fare.If one drives out to rural areas satellite dishes catch the eye, so, many of the poorly educated have TV sets.What an opportunity to educate and inspire! But no, rubbishy soapies etc are the order of the day.And this is what people are ingesting.Scary.

  2. We also need more intelligent presenters. I am constantly rolling my eyes when they do give us something scintific only to make some pathetic jokey remark as an aside after the item which shows they didn’t even understand what they just told us.

  3. Any of my fellow Brits feel like setting up a petition like this for the BBC? They already have a Science/Environment section on their website along with everything else, I don’t see why they couldn’t extend that to at least their own news channel.

  4. In reply to #5 by AsylumWarden:

    Any of my fellow Brits feel like setting up a petition like this for the BBC? They already have a Science/Environment section on their website along with everything else, I don’t see why they couldn’t extend that to at least their own news channel.

    They have the same pages on their TV digital text pages, and mention them in news reports.

    The text pages vary between weekdays and weekends, with science, technology and medicine as separate sections at times.

  5. Here in Canada the CBC is great that way. They tend to focus on the weird, but there is at least one fascinating report every day.

  6. An excellent related link is another article from Peter Ellerton, who teaches critical thinking at the University of Queensland:

    Teaching the nature of science (and keeping students engaged)

    Here’s some extracts from his article:

    I mean something very specific by the term “nature of science”, as the following points will hopefully illustrate:

    • it’s about the philosophical and practical understanding of the processes and reasoning of science, including its nature as a very human endeavour

    • it’s knowing what the difference is between hypotheses, laws and theories (and how most science textbooks get this wrong) and what the characteristics of a good hypothesis are

    • it’s about how the structures and processes of science are the way they are, in large part, to account for our cognitive biases, and that unique subjective experience is not foundational in science as it is in other areas of knowledge

    • it’s about knowing that there is no one scientific method, but that there are many scientific methodologies and that what makes an idea scientific is the goal of maximum explanatory and predictive power combined with exquisite falsifiability

    • it’s understanding that solid scientific ideas have many defined parameters – the more the better – and that this is what separates them from pseudoscience, where goalposts are constantly shifted (ever seen a psychic renege on a promise to read minds because the presence of a sceptic is “disrupting the energy”?)

    • it’s being able to explain the difference between induction and deduction, to characterise and instantiate the types of inferential reasoning that are acceptable in science and what problems and opportunities this presents in public understanding

    • it’s realising that the search for certainty in much of science is a fool’s game, but to ignore levels of confidence makes you a bigger fool.
      Thinking critically in science means, in large part, to be able to do such things.

    Even experimental work is all too often prescribed via worksheets that lay out methods to follow and hypotheses for testing that leave little room for serious reflection, imagination or understanding.
    Some (many) even contain phrases such as “has the hypothesis been proved?”, which shows a miserable understanding of the nature of experimentation.
    So discussion in classrooms about the nature of science is scarce because:

    1. the nature of science is not well understood by science teachers or even scientists
    2. the clear implication that without content knowledge in the nature of science there can be no pedagogical content knowledge
    3. science curricula rarely articulate exactly what skills or knowledge are constituent of an understanding of the nature of science.

    Knowledge of the nature of science is as least as important in creating scientifically literate citizens as factual content knowledge – perhaps more so.
    Few of us can claim a deep knowledge of all the scientific knowledge relevant, indeed critical, to our lives. But at least through knowing something of the nature of science we can appreciate the epistemic credibility of what comes out of scientific inquiry.

  7. It’s like familiarity breeds contempt. With the lessons of history remaining unlearned and forgotten.

    Around 75 years ago Karl Popper identified that most scientists don’t really understand science. Similarly he demonstrated many decades later, regarding democratic politics and proportional representation, that most politicians and voters don’t really understand politics.

    The problem is that all those scientists or statesmen who took notice of his criticism at the time have since retired or become extinct. The educational processes shaping their replacements is more or less ‘teaching to the test’. Kind of like the scientific research that gets published in peer-reviewed journals – which are mostly stuff that seems to show ‘acceptable’ results. (While all the work that shows that much of the research being funded is a load of crap just stays in the bottom drawer.)The outcome is the amazing public health and economic policy as we know it today.

  8. That would be very good, but it would have to be somehow vetted for accuracy. The few narrow niches of science that I know in any depth are all too often reported with inaccuracies that I recognize. So there must be so many other so-called scientific reports conataining inaccuracies that I don’t recognize.

  9. CNN used to include a ‘science report’ fairly regularly with Miles O’Brian. He was enthusiastic and in the know – space was his forte’.

    Then a few years ago, CNN dumped him and the science part – I was so upset and dismayed. O’Brian has moved to other green pastures, but out of the spotlight, to the viewers loss.

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