Scientific discoveries and theories are reported without providing the background to understand the results. Science is based on evidence, but how often do we hear the evidence (the measurements proving or disproving the hypothesis)?(1) How often are we told what to think about the results?(2)
Instead of reporting the evidence, reporters interview experts (doctors, other scientists) who give their opinion, which may have little to do with the scientific research. Expert opinion is irrelevant–what matters is the evidence.(1, 2)
“An obsession with including both sides of a story has often obscured the fact that the weight of scientific evidence lies firmly on one side...” (3)
The evidence may not be exciting enough, so reporters restate the numbers to make them sound more important. Essentially, we are not told the whole story.(1, 2) For example, consider a hypothetical example where the latest research determines that a newly developed test increases the chance of a cure by 10 percent compared to only 5 percent for the current test. That is an increase of 100 percent, but most people hearing that the new test increases the cure rate by 100 percent are being mislead about the actual cure rate for the disease.
Few reporters and editors have more scientific education than the regular population. They also misunderstand science and how scientific research works. Scientific ‘breakthroughs’ happen in increments, not suddenly.