Today’s scientific developments affect all of us. In this technologically advanced and rapidly changing world, the general public needs to grasp not only the science itself, but also its interaction with economics, politics and public policy.
Science & Politics
In a news story about evolutionary biology we read about citizens' groups making legal challenges to basic scientific curricula in public schools. In the debate over stem cell research we find examples of the U.S. executive branch establishing ideologically based limits on research in the life sciences. What is the rationale behind political support of some projects and rejection of others?
In issues spanning the human life cycle—from when life begins to how it ends—science has become politicized. Climatology, ecology, population genetics and geography influence public policy and legal decisions.
Science & Commercialization
To understand the creation and distribution of wealth in the world today, we need to understand developments in science, technology, environment and health.
Politics influence science; science influences politics. Social behaviors such as attention deficit disorder, depression and sexual performance attract medical and pharmaceutical research and product development. Corporate decisions affect ecology and climate change, which in turn may influence regulatory action.
Science & Balance
National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, professional journalists and the listening audiences are very interested in defining and adhering to standards of balance and objectivity.
But "balance" in science stories requires reporting beyond the obvious.
A science report must present the spectrum of scientific approaches toward solving a problem. Methodology and originating questions are as important as conclusions.
The questions researchers pose and the answers they seek differ, depending on their field—and even on their subfield, laboratory or geographic location.
It's essential that we learn to recognize and "balance" these varying perspectives and methodologies. To the layperson they may seem confusing and even unimportant, but the distinctions are extremely important to understanding science, and thus to science reporting