The media doesn’t do science many favours in its endless search for the eye-grabbing headline. One of the NewScientist bloggers has a good summary of the problem, using as an example the AFP headline used to announce the results of a genetic study of the Maori people of New Zealand, and the identification of a gene that influences aggression and risk-taking in Maori males. The headline? “‘Warrior’ gene claimed to fuel violence in New Zealand Maori.” Overstatement may encourage discrimination and stereotyping, but hey, it sure shifts newpapers.
One thought on “The Misrepresentation Of Science”
I agree that the media goes about misrepresenting scientific findings like the one the supposedly “links” a gene to the behavior of the Maori, but scientists themselves are not exactly innocent. The researcher presented his finding to the genetics council in New Zealand with the intention of suggesting the Maori people have some genetic deformity. The real truth is that there are probably THOUSANDS of genes that are in some way linked to aggressive behavior (and the same can be said about something like intelligence), but because of the overly high appraisal given to scientific technology that can scan genes, the focus on biological determinants unjustly gets the major focus. Who suffers?–the people who don’t understand what biodeterminism is.
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