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Science writing in an age of denial

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From one great journalism conference to another, I’ve left Atlanta at the conclusion of another Association of Health Care Journalists national conference and going directly to Madison, Wisconsin for the UW’s “Science Writing in the Age of Denial.”

It’s promoted as:

“a conference and workshop for science writers to explore the phenomenon of denial and how to address issues of science in question. The daylong conference April 23 will examine the history of organized doubt, denial and political persuasion, journalistic insight into the phenomenon, and an exploration of denialist themes that transcend political and topical boundaries. The conference will be followed by a half-day workshop on the morning of April 24. The workshop is intended to help science writers explore practical strategies and tactics for reporting and writing about science in the crosshairs of denial.”

I’m one of the speakers, with my talk entitled, “Cheerleading, Shibboleths and Uncertainty,” concerning the public discussion about screening tests. I’ve posted an amended version of my slides on SlideShare – amended to reduce the file size to allow for posting.


Science writer John Rennie posted a summary & Storify of the talk.

Svetlana Didorenko also posted a Storify account of the talk.

Siri Carpenter links to multiple recaps of the event on The Open Notebook.

And Paul Baker posted this photo.


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April 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm

The “Slide Share” is excellent! Clearly, so many are duped by the imaginary certainty of screening. Journalists have a responsibility to bring the uncertainties of these tests to light. The question that comes to mind is why is that so difficult? Do journalists lack expertise in science? Are they lazy? Are they muzzled?

Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen

May 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm

As a consumer not a scientist, but one who does her research, I applaud this. I am so so tired of people running around like headless chickens afraid of the big C, giving tons of their money to medical companies as they increase their exposure and risk of breast cancer by being exposed to radiation multiple times! And all for what? False alarms? (It is interesting to note too, that survival rates went “up” because they decreased the criteria of time that someone had to “survive” cancer.)
As a recent mother this concerns me a lot regarding birth too. There is a huge fear surrounding birth, which leads to some very unsafe practices, that actually drastically decrease positive outcomes for both mother and baby. The science says one thing, but doctors, journalists and pregnant women are more often than not following the TV drama model of birth.