Journalism and Science: How to Erode the Idea of Knowledge

Article

Abstract

This paper discusses aspects of the relationship between the scientific community and the public at large. Inspired by the European public debate on genetically modified crops and food, ethical challenges to the scientific community are highlighted. This is done by a discussion of changes that are likely to occur to journalistic attitudes – mirroring changing attitudes in the wider society – towards science and scientific researchers. Two journalistic conventions – those of science transmission and of investigative journalism – are presented and discussed in relation to the present drive towards commercialization within the world of science: how are journalists from these different schools of thought likely to respond to the trend of commercialization? Likely journalistic reactions could, while maintaining the authority of the scientific method, be expected to undermine public trust in scientists. In the long term, this may lead to an erosion of the idea of knowledge as something that cannot simply be reduced to the outcome of negotiation between stakeholders. It is argued that science is likely to be depicted as a fallen angel. This may be countered, it is posited, by science turning human, by recognizing its membership of society, and by recognizing that such membership entails more than just commercial relations. To rethink its relationship with the public at large – and, in particular, to rethink the ideal of disinterested science – is an ethical challenge facing the scientific community.

Keywords

authority commercialization disinterestedness public sphere science journalism trust 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk AssessmentValbyDenmark
  2. 2.The International Center for Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark

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