Report raises concerns over mis-use of scientific evidence by government and the media

MPs in the UK are calling for improvements to the way science is communicated to policymakers and the general public in a new report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Among the measures suggested in the Science Communication and Engagement Report are for government to be more transparent about how it uses scientific evidence and better mechanisms for redress when science is mis-reported by the media.

The report says more than two thirds of people polled think the media sensationalises science, while less than a third believe journalists check their facts when reporting it. It also says more should be done to reach those who are not currently engaged with science.

‘Too often the clever practice of communications overshadows the true advice of experts, and the public are left bewildered, and not knowing who to believe,’ said committee chair Stephen Metcalfe in a statement.

‘Ministers and decision makers must take greater care to set out exactly how scientific evidence is being considered, and ensure they cannot be accused of discrediting or skewing the evidence for financial reasons or to suit political aims.

‘Reporting scientific and particularly health issues accurately is also a big responsibility for media organisations if they are to retain public trust, and we need to give the public greater reassurances that they are being properly informed.’