Scandals in science

Authored by: Heather Akin

The routledge companion to media and scandal

Print publication date:  April  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815387596
eBook ISBN: 9781351173001
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351173001-39

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Abstract

Many science issues make headlines because of disagreements or conflicts: climate change, childhood vaccines, genetic engineering, and fracking are just a few. Two reasons explain the upsurge of science scandals in recent years. One, the nature of the science has changed such that new developments, for instance genetic engineering or nanotechnology, tend to raise moral questions: In what ways will these technologies be used? Are we overstepping moral boundaries? Second, the nature of modern media can allow controversies and scandals to be propagated to wider audiences much more quickly. Modern media tools like social media also give critics (or supporters) a platform, which can draw viral attention. In such cases, controversial science issues may be depicted as more controversial than they are among the scientific community, with a vocal minority appearing to have greater support for its opinion than it actually has (Scheufele 2007).

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