An easy way to illustrate the predicament of the portrayal of science in media at the moment is using the shape of the Earth. The Earth is round. If you want to be even more factual than that you would say that the Earth is an ‘oblate spheroid.’ While scientists are still deciding on the Earth’s exact shape (gravitational pull and its unequal mass distribution means it fluctuates), we know for certain it is round and not flat. This is a widely accepted fact that is very easily proven; however, there are those who disagree. Should those from the Flat Earth Society, who have an opinion easily disproven by a simple scientific fact, be treated with the same credibility? Or, if you are proven wrong, are you simply wrong, and your opinion is therefore labelled as incorrect? To say the earth is flat is to deny hundreds of years of science from scientists all around the world.

If we should apply this rule of ‘wrongness’ to the shape of the earth, then should we not apply it to scientific concepts that are a bit more difficult to understand? The “dihydrogen monoxide hoax” where dihydrogen monoxide’s effects such as suffocation are listed with a call for it to be banned or regulated, is an example of how the lack of scientific literacy, and trust that your aunt on Facebook is an expert in what they are posting about, leads to fear of completely innocent chemicals and refutation of facts. Dihydrogen monoxide is water.

Science encourages people from all walks of life to learn and share ideas; however, ‘I did some internet research’ and ‘I did some lab research’ are not the same thing. Although the internet gives you access to years of work done by other scientists, it does not mean you are on a level with those who have done years of work.

So don’t be afriad of learning new things, even if those things have very scary sounding names. And rememeber, everything, including you, is chemical.

As journalists here at Perdeby we will continue to listen to all sides of the story and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. In Features this week we have articles that discuss how science is shaping our future; through greener cars, more innovative assistance for people with disabilities, and by improving the quality and quantity of the food we produce.

Across other sections we have articles on the controversy surrounding the IAAF world champs qualifications (page 12), coverage of the Queer Africa 2 book launch, information about an antidiscriminatory survey at UP (page 3), A part guide for those who don’t enjoy parties (page 9), and a themed crossword and word search (page 10). We are also pleased to inform you you that we have finally coaxed Pssst… out from hiding under the Perdeby floorboards, so see page 10 for more on that.

Savannah Plaskitt

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