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Monday, 8 January 2007

Guidelines for scientists

Perish the thought that scientists should talk to the media without some prior thought. They might make fools of themselves. That's one reason why the EU funded the MESSENGER project. This has now come up with a bunch of reports, including "Guidelines for scientists on communicating with the media".

The introduction to the guidelines point out why they think it helps to have this sort of thing:

"While there are numerous examples of how the media have ‘hyped’ science stories and generated unnecessary anxieties in the absence of real empirical evidence, there are equally examples of where scientists have communicated, say, data relating to risks in such a manner that public misunderstandings have been almost inevitable."
MESSENGER's outputs also include "A layperson's guide to decoding science and health stories". What a nerve, giving away all those nasty trade secrets.

There is also a draft of the "Messenger Final Report". (Be warned, this is a big file at 4MB.) At more than 400 pages, it will be a bit of time before we can digest this document, and see if it really is dangerous and subversive stuff.

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