Patrick Brown: When Science Journals become Activists

by Paul Homewood at

Spinning climate data to fit a policy agenda undermines public faith in science.

Public trust in many mainstream publications continues to consistently decline. Part of the reason for this seems to be that media outlets cater more and more to the ideological tastes of specific groups, sacrificing their credibility to a wider audience in the process. I have criticized the New York Times, for example, for exaggerating the impacts of climate change, but this type of criticism may be in vain if they are covering climate exactly how their audience wants them to. 

It is in a media environment like this, however, that we desperately need reputable sources of scientific information. Sources that will avoid the same temptation to cater to their audiences and prioritize dispassionate reporting of facts instead. 

Nature magazine has a reputation as one of the most reliable sources of information on earth. Their publication has a section of peer-reviewed articles as well as softer sections dedicated to science news and the like. I have criticized the landscape surrounding high-impact peer-reviewed scientific studies published in places like Nature, but I won’t elaborate on that here. Here, I want to bring attention to Nature’s science news section. Sadly, this section now appears to be engaged in similar levels of spin on climate information as outlets like The New York Times.