Diamond Planets, good headlines, public opinion and the carbon lobby
By Mike Hanlon
September 13, 2011
Matthew Bailes is Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) of the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and was one of the scientists responsible for the discovery of the diamond planet which received widespread news coverage over the last few weeks. In a well-penned article, Bailes discusses the reaction to the discovery and raises some very interesting questions about the way the scientific method is used and abused by the media.
A weird discovery like this is bound to grab media attention (a planet made of diamond is remarkable - that's why we covered it) and Bailes notes that the find "has been hugely successful in igniting public curiosity about the universe in which we live."
But it's Bailes' thoughts on how this coverage contrasts with the treatment of other scientific research - namely climate change - that's prompted us to bring the piece to our readers' attention. He acknowledges that in the overall scheme of things, his discovery wasn't "that important" and that "the same media commentators who celebrate diamond planets without question are all too quick to dismiss the latest peer-reviewed evidence that suggests man-made activities are responsible for changes in concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere."
"The scientific method is universal", writes Matthew, and "if we selectively ignore it in certain disciplines, we do so at our peril."
If you'd like a quick primer on the reasons why we are all standing neck deep in our collective excrement, this five minute video entitled 300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds tells the story well.