Science Communication

Last updated: 10 May 2011

Can the subtleties of science really be reduced to a series of headlines and soundbites? In this week's programme Adam and guests put science communication and science journalism under the microscope.

Broadcast Tuesday 10th May at 7 pm.

Listen to the latest programme online

A glass of red wine. Good or bad for your health?

From Icelandic volcanoes to GM crops and cancer cures to climate change, science is always in the news. But how much do we really understand about the science behind the dramatic headlines?

A major concern is that science stories often seem to contradict each other. One week there might be a news story saying that scientists have discovered that red wine or caffeine or aspirin are a possible cause of cancer. Then another group of scientists reveal research apparently showing that the same products can prevent the disease.

So who can you trust? The scientists who are doing the research? The journalists who are reporting it? Or neither? Or do we need to re-assess the reporting of science stories to remind ourselves that science isn't about absolute truths - it's about testing the best available theory and, hopefully, find a better one.

This week Adam Walton chairs a discussion about science communication. His guests are Richard Evans, a former journalist who is now Head of Communications at the World Cancer Research Fund; Dr. Toby Murcott, biochemist turned science journalist and visiting lecturer in Science Communication at the University of Glamorgan; and Dr. Lorraine Whitmarsh, a lecturer in Environmental Psychology at Cardiff University who has studied public perceptions of climate change.

We also hear from Science Cafe reporter Alan Daulby who goes out onto the streets of Wrexham to canvas opinions on climate change and on how much we can trust scientists.


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