Critically analysing scientific issues

In the classroom, there is not much debate about the science, but when it comes to topical issues and media discussion of them, things become more complicated.

When a scientific story is being covered, it's important to remember every source may have a different bias which can influence whether it paints a positive or negative view. However, a better balance is usually found from looking at multiple sources. This allows for you to make your own decisions by separating fact from opinion.

Over the next few pages, some topical science issues will be exampled.

Practice looking at these whilst thinking of different opinions you may have heard about them and how they may fall into any of these categories:

  • ethical
  • moral
  • environmental
  • social
  • political

There is not always an easy or correct answer - which is why scientific issues are hotly debated.

Check the source: opinions will usually be backed up by a pieces of evidence which supports this view. Doing your own research is important to discovering whether a source is trustworthy or may also have a similar goal. For example, for many years oil and gas companies funded research that wanted to defend the pollution of oil and gas.

So it's important to ask why anyone holds a certain opinion and who benefits from that.

The best thing you can do to help your own decision is look for a differnet range of sources and opinions.