Letter: `Gee whizz' science

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The Independent Culture

`Gee whizz' science

Sir: I was surprised to read John Maddox berating scientists for their eagerness to gain publicity in the (supposed) quest for research funds and glory ("Science's love of publicity", 14 August). Maddox suggests that researchers should cool their desire for media coverage.

However, with a few exceptions, science reporting in the news media is so slight that stories are almost inevitably of the "gee whizz" type. If only there were more coverage of what scientists really do on a day- to-day basis, rather than the simple concentration on "once in a lifetime" scoops, or portents of Armageddon. Would this not lead to a more informed public debate about the science issues that matter?

Further, since most academic researchers rely on public funds for their endeavour, the public at large surely deserve to hear more, rather than less, of the results of this work. And who better to report it than those at the coalface?


St Catharine's College, Cambridge