That’s what you might think from reading a recent headline, says David Sims, writing for ThomasNet Green & Clean — see “Are Cell Phones Killing Off Bees?”
Sims was alerted to an article with the headline, “It’s Official – Cell Phones are Killing Bees.” Sounds pretty definitive, right? Sound science must have finally proven it, right?
Not so much. Drilling down into the sources, Sims finds that,
Favre himself [the researcher] concluded the study did not show that mobile phones were deadly for bees. The most he’d commit himself to was a hypothesis that electromagnetic fields “might be contributing to the disappearance of bee colonies.”
So, whither the bold headline ‘It’s Official’? I think the answer is that science journalism, like most journalism today, has to grab eyeballs, so journalists are motivated to write sensational headlines to attract readership. As a result, all kinds of nonsensical assertions are promoted as “fact” and “proven” when such is far from the truth — see “How the Media ‘Inform’ People What Science Has ‘Proven.’”
Unfortunately, many readers don’t get past the headlines.
AB — 19 June 2011