Scientists And The Media: In Search Of A Healthier Symbiosis

"There are really two cold fusion controversies. One is the technical debate over how to achieve and sustain a room-temperature fusion reaction. The other debate concerns how news about the research has been communicated among scientists and by journalists. This second controversy has raised troubling questions about who determines when research may be discussed publicly and who determines the importance of science news - the journalist or the source? The March 1989 press conference of Univers

Darcel Ladfllette
Jul 8, 1990

"There are really two cold fusion controversies. One is the technical debate over how to achieve and sustain a room-temperature fusion reaction. The other debate concerns how news about the research has been communicated among scientists and by journalists. This second controversy has raised troubling questions about who determines when research may be discussed publicly and who determines the importance of science news - the journalist or the source?

The March 1989 press conference of University of Utah researchers B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann appeared to test the limits of acceptable communications conduct by scientists; it provoked a storm of wild accusations and gossip among the scientific community; and it drew allegations of sensationalism and press overreaction. Those skeptical of Pons and Fleischmann's research accused them of, variously, unwarranted speculation, delusion, naivete, and incompetence. In a few unfortunate instances, critics charged deliberate deception. Even some of those who accepted...

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