How should bioethicists engage with media? Gingerly, says Dr Syd Johnson, of Michigan Technological University, in an essay on the Impact Ethics blog. She contends that most doctors and scientists are not prepared to defend their research in the public square. Into this vacuum step media-savvy bioethicists.
However, too often they succumb to the temptation to offer crunchy sound-bites instead of thoughtful analysis. “Most of what passes for bioethics information for the general public is hysterical soundbites.” As a result the currency of bioethical discourse is devalued.
“The opportunity to spark meaningful discourse is lost when bioethicists, on the spot and in the spotlight, merely blurt out a laundry list of questions, or some unfortunate bit of conjecture that fuels the perception (perhaps not unfounded) that bioethicists are professional speculators, science fiction writers, handwringers about what hasn’t happened yet, and might never happen.”
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