Sometimes Science Is Wrong

Science diplomacy has to deal with the risk that science can get wrong. It is particularly related to media coverage of scientific findings that could be driven by sensationalism and the need for ‘breaking news’.

A decade ago, John Rennie, a former editor-in-chief of Scientific American, made a startling proposal. Writing in the Guardian, he suggested that science journalists agree to wait six months before they report on new research results. His point was that it takes time for cutting-edge science to be digested and evaluated by the scientific community, and that what looks like a game-changer at first can turn out, on reflection, to be less than meets the eye—or even just plain wrong.

Effective science diplomacy needs to use healthy scepticism in following scientific developments and, in particular, their coverage in the media.

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