Thu, Nov 06, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Professor publishes book to counter ‘fake’ science

By Dan Bloom  /  Contributing reporter

The way science news is often presented in Taiwan has long been a pet peeve for National Chung Cheng University (NCCU) science education professor Jerome Huang (黃俊儒).

He wrote about the topic in an English-language opinion piece in the Taipei Times last year, and has revisited the subject in Chinese-language articles in a variety of media and academic outlets.

To put his ideas into a more accessible format, Huang has written a 220-page book titled Don’t Trust Them! 10 Mistakes in Science News that You Need to Be Aware Of (別輕易相信!你必須知道的科學偽新聞).

“I wrote the book to try to raise awareness among the general public of the poor state of science news reporting in Taiwan,” Huang, 40, said. “The reporting of science ideas and developments in science is often sensationalized in Taiwan, with an emphasis in newspaper and television coverage on non-scientific things like unconfirmed and uncorroborated UFO sightings and stories that do nothing but entertain and titillate, without any real news or educational value.”

Huang said he hopes the public will become more aware of the differences between myths and scientific facts.

He said that many science stories reported on local television shows and in national newspapers have little basis in fact, and that the public is easily fooled by “science news presenters” who have limited knowledge and are mostly interested in offering entertainment.

With an academic background in science education and science communication, Huang wrote his book as a wakeup call, he said.

In his Taipei Times piece, Huang wrote about the sensationalized way that local media outlets reported on the so-called Mayan calendar prediction of the end of the world in 2012.

Who benefits from such sensationalized “science” reporting in Taiwan?

Huang’s book tries to answer that question.

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