BBC: "Too much weight to fringe views", says review


Senior Member.
This is not directly about debunking, but it allows a glimpse into media behaviour and mechanisms:

The BBC is to revamp its science coverage after an independent review highlighted weaknesses and concluded that journalists boosted the apparent controversy of scientific news stories such as climate change, GM crops and the MMR vaccine by giving too much weight to fringe scientific viewpoints.

Mick West

Staff member
That is great news! The "false balance" thing has been a particular bugbear of mine:
Jones likened the BBC's approach to oppositional debates to asking a mathematician and maverick biologist what two plus two equals. When the mathematician says four and the maverick says five, the public are left to conclude the answer is somewhere in between



Senior Member.
Now, the BBC can be said to be high on the scale of honesty and reputation. And yet I am not convinced that it was only "impartiality" which is named here as the issue. Controversy is just way more interesting than consensus, and documentary programs have to include overdramatized mysteries and big open questions nowadays. The fight for market share seems to dictate that style.

I see it pop up increasingly at the public broadcasting corporation where I'm employed, and I see it overflow at the commercial competition.

In short, I'm skeptical about the outlook for improvement in the long term.

Mick West

Staff member
Yes, I can't say I hold out much hope for the media in general. But this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Public broadcasting (i.e the BBC) is a lot bigger in the UK than in the US, so this is quite significant.

Ross Marsden

Senior Member.
There seems to be a pervasive view that all opinions are equally valid. This was not always the case. Somebody or some movement has advanced it so that it is part of modern thinking.
It is patently not true. Some opinions are just rubbish.
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