The costs of bad science communication

Emily Willingham, SciLogs:

After the 20th cancer-related headline promising a “cure just around the corner,” readers just don’t believe the stories any more. For them, the words “breakthrough” and “cure” have lost meaning. And for good reason.

What’s the harm, you might ask, in a headline that perhaps overstates the case or a lede that does the same, with the balance debuting somewhere around the 10th paragraph? The harm can be a two-way street. Lose reader trust, and you will, I’m assuming, lose your readers.

Willingham’s comments don’t just apply to science blogging and reporting, of course. We see the same thing in the tech blogosphere every day.