An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
The mediated public sphere is host to countless debates, of varying accuracy. (Fallon 2013) The information for debate on most topics comes largely from the media, which members of the mediated public sphere rely on for their sense of the truth. This then means that the types of media the viewer’s choose to consume shapes their sense of reality, and it is when media “truth” comes into conflict with either members of the public sphere previously established sense of reality, or another media sources information that debate arises.
One of the substantial benefits about science reporting however, is that science only conveys demonstrable facts. This means that, dissimilar to the reporting of politics or commerce, any opinion only becomes valid through its supporting data. To quote science writer Alex B. Berezow, “Science, therefore, is a world where truth trumps ideology.”(Berezow 2013)
This becomes a controversial when scientific facts presented conflict with the viewer’s own perception on the truth, especially when it comes to pseudoscience, such as alternative medicine, and religious beliefs, for example creationism. It then becomes a constant battle for scientists and science journalists to debunk the scepticism surrounding these issues, in an attempt to better educate the general public.
In this interest, Real Clear Science, a prominent online science journal released an article titled “Settled Science that Is ‘Controversial’” in an attempt to address common scientific misconceptions such as the controversy around evolution, animal testing, vaccines and alternative medicine. (Lightman 2013)Whilst this would have created a public uproar if published by a more main stream media site such as the Daily Telegraph, as most of the readers of Real Clear Science already have a clear understanding of basic scientific concepts, these misconceptions came across as informative rather than offensive to their perception of reality.
Thus is the struggle for science to communicate itself. The general public fear either what they don’t understand, or information that conflicts with what they think to be the truth. Wanting to avoid controversy, the mainstream media has a tendency to sideline science reporting, which only serves to increase the ignorance of the mediated public sphere even further. This sets society into a death spin of scientific illiteracy, only stoppable by viewers themselves making the choice to search for greater knowledge via wider reading.
Berezow, A. B. (2013). “Our Most Controversial Science Articles of 2013.” Real Clear Science.
Fallon, D. J. (2013). Habermas and the mediated public sphere. DHAMMA2553’S BLOG. wordpress.com. 2014.
Lightman, A. (2013). “Settled Science that Is ‘Controversial’.” Real Clear Science.