Science and the Media
I am by most accounts a very fortunate individual, because I have the luxury of doing pretty much what it is I want to do for a living and am still able to make a living, pay the mortgage, groceries etc. In addition to the preparing the weather for Rogers, chatting with my buddy AK every Friday about all the science issues I want, writing books and playing with various in sundry ideas and my personal education, I am a science and factual documentary film maker. I have been making documentaries for broadcast for almost 15 years. And I have begun to notice a trend, one that I find to be disturbing and I think worthy of a blog.
The health food pundits like to say that “you are what you eat” and I think this slogan is something I can play off. I think, “your brain is what you expose it to” is the media equivalent of the above adage. Even though I produce TV programs and have been a TV fixture from time to time (weather, science shows etc) I am wondering whether I am becoming the equivalent of the media purveyor of drugs. Most of the products that get commissioned domestically and I see on TV make me wonder whether I am part of what I perceive to be a massive problem, especially as it relates to what is termed “factual and science programming.”
In the past ten years we have had proliferation of specialty channels, the sports, Discovery, Food Channels et al that have been cutting into the main networks on a huge scale. The networks have been complaining and responding. Their main weapon has been reality programming and it has worked to a startling successful degree. And because of that success, the specialty channels have responded and of course, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not to mention ratings. Now all I see on TV are pseudo science reality shows.
When I tune in to see a documentary, I expect to see, not a wacko show host who masquerades as a scientist by being outrageous, but thoughtful and intelligent programmes. What I see is an extension of reality programming where information is non existent and effects and sensation are the real content.
This has become a steady diet on the tube these days and its small wonder, as the thin edge of wedge in information and education, that we are becoming less and less cognizant of what real science is. More and more people are drifting to pseudo science as the general level of education falls. Fewer young people are choosing to become scientists and engineers. Mathematics is no longer a prerequisite in our public schools and innumeracy levels are rocketing.
I encounter people who believe vaccinations are a threat to their health, people who believe that climate change is a conspiracy, intelligent design is a viable theory and time travel is a possibility. I am flabbergasted until I walk over to the TV, turn it on and see the fare that masquerades as science and factual programming. It is small wonder that just when we have such incredible problems to hurdle, problems that can only be solved by our most powerful weapon in our arsenal, science, that we find the arsenal depleted and wanting.
One Response to “ Science and the Media ”
Add New Comment