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17 Aug 2018

In the discussion board this week we will examine the issue of howscience is presented to the public. It might seem a bit unrelatedto the content of the course this week, but I would like you tothink about your exposure to science before you enrolled in thisclass. Particularly the role the media plays in the understandingof science, be it the health issues, bioterrorism, or globalwarming. We will discuss these issues in the final few weeks of theclass. A past episode of ER highlighted a suspected case ofsmallpox. ER is one of many shows that the U.S. government used toget issues out to the American people. Consider a former CBS showcalled "The Agency" which portrayed CIA agents combating terroristplots or a current show “The Unit” which has a similar plot. Thegovernment provided enormous financial incentives to networks toinsert certain messages into the content of TV shows. Thisincentive program was somewhat hidden from the American public. Ourgovernment believed that messages inserted into television programsreached a broader audience than public service commercials.Meanwhile, the networks enjoy having more profit. Seems like awin-win situation. However, the program was dropped after it wasmade public in a Salon.com article a few years ago. Is theresomething disingenuous about government messages imbedded into TVscripts? Or do the ends justify the means? However, all incentivesare not gone. The Center for Disease Control offers annual $300,000grants available to nonprofit or government agencies to "fosterHollywood leadership support for national public health prioritieswhich include ... promoting accurate depictions of healthy livingat all stages of life." Some of you might have seen the ABC movieFatal Contact: Bird Flu in America, a couple of years ago. Clearly,television shows continue to portray real health threats in adramatic fashion. The question I would like you to consider iswhether these dramatic representations are the best way to educatethe public about health risks? Some sources to check out are:Primetime Propaganda:http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2000/01/13/drugs/ "The Quietdeath of Primetime Propaganda":http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1161/a01.html Use these sourcesas well as your own research to comment on this issue. What do youthink of this method of getting information to the public? Compareit to the information you can access from the CDC web(http://www.cdc.gov/) site concerning the flu and bio-terrorism.Which is the most effective way of informing the public? Which isthe most accurate? Can you think of a better method to inform thepublic about important health issues such as the flu vaccine orbio-terrorism? Another aspect of this topic that you might want toconsider is how the media shapes our view of health risks. We areexposed to hundreds of natural carcinogens every day yet thesewon't get near the news or media coverage that dumping of toxicchemicals Puget Sound by the paper industry or shipyards willreceive. You could even make the claim that the problem ofover-eating is the single greatest health risk today, yet McDonaldsis not viewed as an evil company the way industrial polluters ofPuget Sound might be portrayed in the media. Is this fair or moreimportantly is the media misleading us about the greatest healththreats in our society? Can you help me? I need in text citation aswell. Thank you!

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Jean Keeling
Jean KeelingLv2
18 Aug 2018

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