[ASC-list] Was and probably still is Statins but more like balanced science reporting

Susan Kirk skirk at iprimus.com.au
Tue Nov 12 22:10:01 UTC 2013

Renato raises some really good points. "Is everything (no exceptions) in
'science' subject to question/ critique/ challenge? Is this one of the
defining criteria of 'science'?"

I think science has to be questioned.  Life evolvesŠ.our knowledge
evolves..science evolvesŠ.That's not a linear statement either.

Renato concurs with what I raised in a previous email.  Whose evidence is
it?  Why their evidence and not Joe Blow?

Without naming names I will give you an example.  There is one scientist in
a specialised area, that always has the same viewpoint.  It never changes.
She is living in a time warp.  Her thought processes never change. She lives
by her premise, even when it is changing and her colleagues are saying it is
changing. If I give her space on the page, will that be balanced?  Well it
depends on what you think balance in the context of reporting is.

Balance is a process of reporting that has its roots in media law and
ethics.  It's not an outcome per se.

For example, Mr Y said this about you or a subject you've written about what
do you say Mr Z?  That's the process underlined by the ethics and the
legality of giving the other side the right to retort.  If you don't you're
in trouble (legally, ethically).

That's not balance, how could it be, two opposing opinions do not make
balance, that's a debate.  In the case of the statin reporting, balance was
lacking?  Really, how?   The statin hypotheses stands.  Catalyst was going
after the 'other' opinion.  If you think about 'balanced' reporting the
statin hypotheses was not balanced.  Did catalyst try and get other 'expert'
opinions to balance the reporting.  Yes they did but these experts refused
to comment.  

Does the public have the right to know this information is (one of) the
criteria for journalism and I think typifies what balance means.  Balance
means that the public knows both sides.  If the journalist can't get both
sides then give either side and let the people decide. That, I believe, is
what happened here.

Toss also raises some points about non specialists reporting on science.
This is something I have grappled with for a long time.  Am I looking for a
debate on the science when I report it.  No I'm looking to understand it.
The more people I speak to the more I understand it.  There are many people
that influence our reality, balance is about incorporating all those
perspectives, and then deciding what's right and it's not my job to decide
whether that is right for the public.

This brings me to the changing face of journalism.  Everyone's a journalist
now.  I had someone question my use of a media release on twitter this
morning.  You're plagiarising was the assumption. Even though I make it
quite clear on my website that it is a media release and written by the
'editor' He doesn't know the rules.  Do I have to educate him?  Did I spend
7 years at university to be a professional to be questioned by amateurs?  Is
this what is at the heart of all this discussion.  Having your (statin)
science and credibility questioned? To be undermined by lesser minds?

Now back to the mitochondria....


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