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The science cringe

The Science Media has also issued this video about how wonderful they are.


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Reader Comments (21)

Doesn't mention climate once, that I heard. What someone says about it being 'pro-science' but willing to deal with justified criticisms with honesty, towards the end, seemed the most relevant.

Oct 5, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard - There's Rapley parading himself as a "climate scientist".

I am sorry I could not watch it all. The extremely recent story on how the media pollute science kept springing back to mind.

Oct 5, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Some financial data for the period ended 31 March 2012

Income: £740,295


Staff: £302,091 (7 staff)
Other: £123,599
Governance: £11,328
Generating Funds: £24,340

Surplus: £278,337

One member of staff earned between £60,000 and £70,000

You can download the accounts from here

Oct 5, 2012 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Ah, didums! Elmer Thud "Does the poor scientist get upset cos nobody beweeeves him????" Get a life guys, get real, live in the real world, & not the world of puter models! It never ceases to amaze me how many "scientists" don't have a life outside the all too cushy world of academia!

Oct 5, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

This video is a mistake. It is also a contradiction.

The fragrant Fiona uses the A-word: Altrustic.

Anyone producing a self-aggrandising video calling themselves altruistic with lots of "establishment" talking heads saying how wonderful are, immediately gets my antennae twitching.

The video is mistake because it immediately makes me want to know what this organisation really is about, as it acts as a filter between increasingly dumbed down scientific media and ever-increasing media aware scientists.

Jiminy's antennae are sensitive things.

Altruism this is not.

Oct 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Omnologos: I obviously blanked it out!

Oct 5, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Is it just me who thinks the woman from the SMC is just like that character from Perfect Curve in Twenty Twelve?

Oct 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Miller

Andrew - et al.
Not being savvy with such things, I had never heard of the SMC.

I am not sure what the criticism here is. Surely, outreach and communication to the public of scientific results is important. If such an organisation exists to facilitate this process, it sounds like a good idea to me.

If this is an issue of trust of scientists, surely trust can only be gained through communication.

Every confused with the sceptical world.

Oct 5, 2012 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Wilson

It semed to me a bit of a curate's egg. The idea behind it is good - to make science more responsive and comprehensible to the public. Obviously there is a danger that it just becomes a spin operation, but I didn't feel that was the whole story. It does perhaps encourage science journalists to become lazy rather than make their own enquiries. In other words it's integrity is essential if it is the main source for science reporting. But Colin Blakemore for instance is somebody I respect and if he feels it does a good job I wouldn't condemn it out of hand. And yes, the woman is like Siobhain from Perfect Curve.

Oct 5, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Hi Rob, so just ignoring my deep suspicion of anyone who shouts "We are altruistic" at me, then perhaps consider the some of the following,

So would you be concerned that this funnelling of communication lines could be manipulated to achieve invisible ends. What are the motives of the people who run it? Could it be used to propagate certain views?

Ok, say you do not question the motives, accept altruism (though politics was mentioned many times in the video and altruism and politics do not mix.) In Consulting I have met many senior people who do not know their arse from their elbow, however put a microphone in front of them and plausibility oozes from every pore.

Media friendly means nothing. Experts often are not. Cannot be by their very nature.

Do you subscribe to the model that a major record label promotes the most talented musicians? Because this is a similar model. What are the rules for suggesting an egghead to the media? What notes do they keep after a performance?

Who is driving this market? A market where you cannot see the rules?

Altruism? Altruism cannot exist in a market. And definitely not a political one like this.

Oct 5, 2012 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Jiminy Cricket at 1:36pm.

Those are all good points which are helping my thinking. Thanks.

Oct 5, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Rob Wilson

The evidence that Fiona Fox gave to the Leveson Inquiry, and Andrew’s and my evidence which the inquiry has chosen to publish, may explain why some of the readers of this blog find the video rather disturbing, particularly in view of the dramatis personae the SMC seems to have mustered.

It might be amusing to send a copy of our Leveson submission to each of the talking heads in the video and ask them to comment on whether they feel they were justified in lending their names and their time to promoting this organisation.

Oct 5, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

Heh, Rob confuses 'narrative' with 'communication'. I don't think the Science Media Centre is as confused.

Oct 5, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

The SMC was set up with the best of intentions at a time when the media was full of ludicrous science articles. When academics and others remonstrated with the media about this they were told consistently that it was very difficult, if not impossible, to get 'real' scientists to talk to journalists.

SMC was created to act as a link between the media and scientists: if a journalist wanted a scientific view but didn't know where to go he could ask the SMC and they would rapidly find someone prepared to talk. The SMC itself did not at that time have a 'narrative', my personal experience of them was that they acted as honest brokers and did a very worthwhile job.

AFAIK they still do in the majority of areas, and I am still on their contacts list. However Climate Science, as we know is a difficult area where there is a strongly held consensus view and a minority opposite view (which may very well be correct). It is not therfore surprising to find the SMC putting forward scientific spokespeople from the consensus

Oct 5, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Isn't it telling that the SMC has said not a word on the "100 cods left in the sea" hoax news by the Sunday Times?

Oct 5, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Arthur Dent: thanks for that first-hand testimony. Yet I'm sure they did a hopeless job when it came to Oxburgh. I admit I can't recall the details but I read the piece by Bish and Harmless (and what a great name for a band that is, Josh please note) at the time and it was not good. But the level of deception surrounding the inquiries was much greater than other issues the SMC has to deal with I'm sure. It would have taken a lot of guts to ask some hard questions before effectively lending support.

Oct 5, 2012 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I made it till 3:30 min then seen some 20 something try to tell me he know's better then me a 50 something. ;>)

Oct 6, 2012 at 3:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterLorne50

What? The Science Media Centre presents itself to the public with a video that begins with a symbolic, tone-setting shot of ... our old mucker the Glass Man? Here's that photo (and the source) - sorry for the slow download, it's a high-quality version. I'm laughing aloud here.

Oct 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Rob Wilson, the video is about an organisation which purports to explain to the public the complexities and subtleties of science, yet it starts with Paul Nurse, a man who uses the term "denialist" to refer to views on climate which are held by atmospheric physicists like Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer and Judy Curry.

Oct 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

Sounds like an Apple keynote abut the iphone 5 !

Oct 9, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

As far as I can tell, David Shukman likes the SMC because "as a science journalist" it tells him about science?? Isn't that HIS job?

Silly me, I forgot that the BBC science editor has a BA in Geography. How many Ph.D. qualified employees work at the SMC, I wonder? [I'm sorry, I found it too painful to watch all of it.]

Oct 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

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