Chasing Shadows: Science Journalism and the Politics of Risk

  • Stuart Allan
Conference paper


The world of science, judging from some media portrayals, is a world of white-coated boffins peering through microscopes, laboratory benches with bubbling flasks set above flickering Bunsen burners, and racks of test-tubes and petri dishes emitting strange aromas. It is an insular world, cut off from the real world outside the laboratory window. The media tell us that this world of science is mind-numbingly boring and mundane in the repetition of its daily routines. Except, that is, for those rare moments when with a terrifyingly abrupt flash of insight (in the time it takes to, say, split an atom) the very future of humankind might suddenly appear to be hanging in the balance. If in the wrong hands science can be used to evil ends, in the right hands it is proclaimed to be our salvation. Scientists themselves tend to be represented as being decent, high-minded citizens tirelessly committed to the eternal pursuit of truth on behalf of their society. This endeavour, it follows, is a cornerstone of modem democracy, helping to make the world an organized, ordered system. Still, we are warned, there are exceptions. Lurking among their ranks are those intent on exploiting scientific knowledge for ominous purposes. These scientists, having been corrupted by greed or driven mad by a lust for power, are dangerously out of control.


Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy News Medium News Story Select Committee Media Portrayal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Allan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Cultural Studies University of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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