University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE

Social Influences on Science

Mass media

The role of the mass media – newspapers, journals, film, TV and the internet - in providing information, setting the agenda for the public’s reactions to scientific discoveries and influencing opinion on issues involving science and technology is controversial.

See what the Canadian National Post has to say about Britain’s “Frankenstein Food” scare.

Try it for yourself

You need a group of four, split into two pairs. One pair writes headlines (aim for less than 50 characters) in favour of the research described in the following newspaper article from 2004 and the other writes headlines against it. After 10 minutes stop, share what you have written and vote for the best headline.

What sells newspapers – headlines or content?

Design a headline to go here

Stem cells (cells which have the capacity to develop into any of the 200 or so types in the body) could be used in the future to generate unlimited supplies of cells and tissues to repair damage occurring through accident or age. One approach is already being tested by Dr Paul De Sousa and Professor Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh.

They are exploring using an electric shock or chemicals to mimic the way that a sperm makes an egg divide. Doing this to an egg results in a parthenogenetic embryo – from parthenogenesis, meaning "virgin birth" – that retains the full set of DNA of the egg donor and can develop stem cells with adult potential, but which cannot form a viable foetus. These stem cells could then be used to treat the woman who donated the egg.

 Experimenter Effect

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