Book: Bad Science
|The Group:||Caitlin Carroll, Hazel Geraghty and Mia Larkin|
Caitlyn Carroll – My name is Caitlin Carroll. I am currently studying Analytical Chemistry in TU Dublin. I choose this course as I have an interest in chemistry and the modules in this course all appealed to my inquisitive personality, I love to question why and how things work. The different aspects such as forensic, environmental, and pharmaceutical chemistry also appealed to me as they all play extremely important roles in our society.
Our chosen theme is, ‘how the media shapes our opinion on scientific matters’. It is aimed at teenagers and adults as they tend to be the media’s target audience. We hope by doing this exhibit people understand that they can take many media articles with a pinch of salt and not believe everything to be true. We hope they can spot misleading headlines and debunk a misleading article and hopefully inspire them to do some extra research on any wacky or scary headline they read.
The content associated with our exhibit will be based on articles and foolish stories the media have released in the past on different scientific topics. We will discuss the science behind their stories and if there is anything to support their claims. One thing we will discuss is the media’s impact on how the general public have tackled the Covid-19 pandemic – especially the misleading headlines on the vaccines which only further scare people. We will also discuss how the media have also caused a frenzy over the MMR vaccine when they made the impression that scientists were split over the safety of the vaccine and how it may lead to autism. This sort of material can cause parents to avoid vaccinating their kids, which is obviously not a good thing. We will also discuss headlines targeted at pregnant women saying what they should or should not do while pregnant for the health of the baby. These articles tend to sound very factual and scientific when they are not and can again cause more harm than good.
Hazel Geraghty – My name is Hazel Geraghty and I am studying Analytical Chemistry in TU Dublin. I chose this course because I was always interested in science, particularly chemistry, and how science is all around us in every aspect of our lives and sometimes, we are unaware of it.
I love to learn new things and to educate others especially those who might not have much of a science background. We chose the theme of “how the media promote the public misunderstanding of science”. We chose this as it is very topical and controversial with the current pandemic and how many people are misled to believe rumours and lies which has contributed to a split in society. We wanted our audience to be able to spot misleading headlines and be able to research and come to their own conclusion.
Our exhibit will be based around “scientific” articles published by the media that were truly foolish and had little to no research behind them but that scared people.
Mia Larkin – My name is Mia Larkin and I am currently a first year student studying analytical chemistry in TU Dublin. I have always been passionate about the sciences throughout my life, I studied both biology and chemistry throughout secondary school and for my leaving cert.
Part of our course is studying pharmaceuticals, environmental science and forensics. All of these are so interesting yet so misinterpreted within the media. The chapter my group and I have chosen from the book that we read, ‘Bad Science’ by Ben Goldacre, is ‘Chapter 12- How the media promote the misunderstanding of science’. This topic was important to us as a group of up-and-coming chemists because we pay attention to any relative topics in the media and notice how often only half the story is shown.
Through our exhibit we hope to shed some light on the overlooked parts of viral media stories which would have otherwise not have been shown, and we are going to show that the science can be morphed to fit the ideal story and that when listening to the news there may be more to it than first appears. Eg. vaccinations. This topic is very prevalent in the media at this time as the Covid-19 vaccines have recently been released and the media is mainly portraying the bad side of them.
Due to this ongoing media portrayal of our whole journey through Covid-19 and its portrayal of the vaccines, my group and I decided it would be best to do a project on something so large in our lives.
Caitlyn Carroll – Chapter 12 “How the media promote the misunderstanding of science”, Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. This reading sparked my interest in this topic as I thought it was very relevant to the times we are in now. There is so much misleading news being written about the Covid-19 vaccines which is only scaring the public who may not even understand how vaccines and viruses work.
We can clearly see the impact it has when we see people protesting on the streets saying it is a “death jab”. It got me thinking how much the media affects and shapes our opinions on certain topics and how articles can make people lose faith in science when without it we would be unable to evolve and develop. I have read headlines and been shocked and felt conflicted, only to read the article and realize it was all just a load of mumbo jumbo trying to scare me with no actual scientific evidence to back it up.
Media articles tend to play with people’s emotions and medical worries by making ridiculous claims (I once read how burnt food can cause cancer), instead of listing all the beneficial things people can do to improve their overall healthy like wearing sunscreen, exercise, quit smoking, etc. Fake news is too accessible these days as it can be published on all forms of social media and be spread from one side of the globe to another in minutes.
Ben Goldacre really emphasizes not take everything you read as the truth, to do some research and find the scientific evidence to support or debunk these headlines and come to your own conclusion and I hope from our exhibit the audience will do this as well.
Hazel Geraghty – The book ‘Bad Science’, particularly the chapter on how the media promote the publics misunderstandings of science, inspired our exhibit as there are so many examples of incorrect information particularly from a science point of view made available to the public everyday – whether it’s in the newspaper, in blogs or on social media. Some examples could be the Coronavirus vaccine, the MMR vaccine or something as silly as the “flat earth conspiracy”.
From the book we learned not to believe everything you read or see, especially when it involves science, and how fake news can spread so quickly. It taught us to find the correct valid information and come to a conclusion from that. From our exhibit we would like people to take away the same approach, to not believe everything they read and realise how our lives heavily revolve around the information we get from the media
Mia Larkin – While I was reading the chapter I was taken aback at how much I knew but didn’t realize about the media and the giant influence it has on the views of society, how it rarely shows the positives and mainly focus on the negative as that’s what people want to watch. It mad me think about all the different types of media there are that might be misinterpreting or even misleading about science. For example, I didn’t realize how influencers in the media could misinterpret science and yet I read an article about a major Hollywood film star, who has millions of followers and fans, advises not to use sun cream, due to chemicals in them. Sun cream should be worn almost daily to prevent the UV rays that can damage your skin, which can at least give you a burn and at worst can be the cause for skin cancer. This is one small example of how a section of media in this case an influencer who has no ties to chemistry or the science behind it, can put a story out there and the world will listen to it. The chapter in Bad Science highlighted the many ways media portrays science and how society listens, and it inspired me to dig deeper and find out why media is so biased.