A famous tennis player from Spain, Rafael Nadal remains on course to retain his title in a very famous championship organized in Italy, after sweeping aside another famous tennis player by a decisive victory to reach closer to victory.
The 23-year-old (Rafel Nadal) played better the Other Player in a match that lasted only one hour and 10 minutes.
Nadal performed well in the first, second and sixth part of the game.
The Other Player was mediocre in the fifth part of the game and thus Nadal won the match when it ended.
"It probably wasn't my best match but I did well, I played safe," said Nadal.
Nadal, a very good tennis player, faces Yet Another Player from an East-European country, if he is to win in Italy.
"I was focussed the whole time and I tried to be more aggressive.
"He made more mistakes than usual which helped me a little bit but my serve was working very well." - Natal said.Note: serve is a very special expression used among tennis specialists to mean a special kind of move.
There were also a bunch of other players, some winning, some losing encounters, some decisively some not.
Does this sound familiar?
No? It should. This is exactly how it feels when the BBC reports on science. It is dumbed down so much that the essence of the news is lost. It is made entirely devoid of any phrases that might be required to understand the topic. It is presented as proclamations from high above, in the style of absolute authority.
The original piece of this sports related news can be found here. The sports journalist doesn't treat the audience as a bunch of 5 year olds. Neither is that common among financial or other kinds of journalists, except for some reason, science journalists.
Take this news article about the debate on hospital mortality rates, that made me angry enough to write this post and to rewrite it after I lost it to a stupid editing system. That article is a showcase of what's wrong with science reporting at a mainstream news organization. It contains all the typical mistakes: expert proclamation from authority but without evidence, a misguided desire to avoid technical terms, reporting on a finding without including the finding, not including any links to the original material and so on...
The article tells us about the two expert sides debating whether hospital mortality rates should be given less or more emphasis in determining the quality of care at individual hospitals. So it turns out a peer-reviewed scientific article in the British Medical Journal argued that mortality rates are a poor measure. The news report reporting on the article doesn't even say WHY.
It is a counterintuitive finding for non-medical personnel. What could be better at measuring a hospital's effectiveness than to measure how many people it saves? It turns out the reason is chiefly due the fact that there is a low signal to noise ratio for preventable deaths in the morbidity rate (around 95% of the total deaths are unpreventable no matter the quality of care). How do I know this? I know this because the report can be located under a minute. It is freely available in full at the BMJ's website. The explanation is of course not so simple as I've here stated, however that is the crux of it. I found the report itself very readable and enlightening. Most adults with basic reading comprehension should have no problem understanding it at all.
Maybe, in 2010, a website writing about a scientific paper could actually link it? I mean, it's not like that the BBC has a "RELATED INTERNET LINKS" section? Oh wait.
Stop treating your readers as children. They're perfectly capable of dealing with specialist words and complex reasoning. You wouldn't leave such things out from a sports or financial article, so why the compulsion to try to dumb science down to meaninglessness?
Trying to dumb the article down in this particular case resulted in an article that is on many levels harder to understand and more incomprehensible than the original peer reviewed article in the British Medical Journal. Stop the whacky science reporting.