The sad, sad state of modern science reporting
Science reporting is one of the saddest casualties of the schools of journalism. It is one thing for reporters to fawn over this or that politician and to vilify the opponent; we can, after all, decide for ourselves in such matters. We are not so ready to declare ourselves experts in science, and especially in the hard sciences such as astronomy and physics. We rely on impartial experts to inform us, but what happens when the supposed experts are leftist ideologues? What happens when they have an agenda other than doing good science? Worse yet, what happens when reporters don't even understand the science they deign to report on?
Science reporters should have serious training in the subject matter on which they report, along with the highest standards of objectivity and rational skepticism. Instead, they oftentimes seem little more qualified than reporters for high school newsletters, if that much. They basically transcribe what the scientists tell them, dumb it down to their own simplistic level, and then report it to us as if they knew what they were talking about. Imagine if the standards were so low for sports reporters that they thought field goals were kicked in baseball.
I was a commentator on my college newspaper, and I saw firsthand the journalists-in-training whose so-called training was basically leftist indoctrination. They learned how to propagandize. The idea of presenting facts and letting the reader draw his own conclusions was alien to them. There is only one right conclusion to be drawn, they seemed to say, and that is "mine." Facts must accordingly be hidden or twisted.
That is bad enough in most reporting, but in science, the potential consequences are far worse. It is vital that the public understand basic issues in science, especially when so many politicians are using science as a shield for promoting unscientific policies.
One important fact that is underreported is that the field of science is so heavily dependent on government funding, directly or otherwise, that it is almost impossible for scientists to remain politically independent. Indeed, some subjects of research are entirely forbidden. Funding is always at stake, and scientists know that.
For example, the money factor heavily governs reporting on the space program. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is a hugely expensive bureaucracy. It also is one of the most prestigious and should be trustworthy. Those of us who fund it, taxpayers, expect it to be empirically objective and politically neutral. The reality is disappointing. NASA has expressed among its goals the promotion of programs to reduce man-made climate change, whatever the agency means by that, and even to bring more Muslims into the agency.
Whether or not one considers those laudable goals, they are not relevant to the mission of the agency, unless the mission includes increased funding from an increasingly leftist government. That is partly why NASA seems incongruously ideologically leftist at times, sometimes at the expense of good science.
With the establishment of the Space Force by the Trump administration, it becomes more vital than ever that the science underlying its policies be solid and objective. A recent report by Space.com on the Force made implausible and extended excuses for the new president's press representative, Jen Psaki, who revealed profound ignorance on the subject in a press conference. I wrote the community contact at that site, respectfully urging that the people involved set aside their bias and just report facts.
They owe the public an apology. I don't expect one.
Image via Pxhere.