Monday, September 03, 2007

Why stories get hyped in the pop science media

An interesting blog called Neurofuture provides many examples of pop science media discovering the gene or nervous tic or wahtever that does it all for you, always with the refrain, "Perhaps a return to reasonable arguments based on solid evidence would be a wiser course for the future."

Yes, but in popular media, that's not the way to get one's story to the head of the queue. When the editor is setting up her ever diminishing science section for Valentine's Day, which story does she pick:

"Weak correlation between certain blood groups and divorce, study finds"
"Infidelity gene discovered!"

Hey, they're the same story actually, it's just that .... the one bleeds and the other leads. And the starving freelancer heeds .. And the wise reader keeps a dish of salt handy.

Hat tip to Stephanie West at Brains on Purpose.