Ranked: The Best & Worse Science News Sites
The unfortunate fact is that much of science reporting is a morass of ideologically driven junk science, hyped research, or thick, technical jargon that almost no one can understand. So whose science news should you trust?
Together with Alex Berezow at ACSH, RealClearScience has evaluated the mainstream science press. For each website, we asked: Is the science behind the story very interesting, so-so, or weak? Then we asked: Is the reporting—in tone and in subject—driven by ideology or driven by facts?
We placed all the sources into a grid. Here's the result:
Some interesting notes: Science, Nature, and Ars Technica are regularly top notch. The Economist also scores highly, despite its drier coverage. BBC offers quality coverage of major science stories most every day.
Some sites like Chemistry World and especially Physics World present admirably factual science reporting that often flies completely over our heads. While expert audiences may appreciate their coverage, they often leave laypeople behind. Forbes and Gizmodo often suffer the inverse flaw. These sites tend to feature crisp writing on exciting topics but sometimes fail to keep their ideological or hype tendencies in check.
Most mainstream political and cable news sites have generally poor science reporting. This occurs both right and left. Fox, CNN, and MSNBC all score poorly on compelling science content. Big American newspapers and magazines struggle, too. The New York Times and Washington Post are often dominated by ideological garbage science such as fad diets, organic food crazes, and new age fluff. TIME and Scientific American occasionally suffer from similar ideological bias. NPR has given time to anti-vaccination advocacy.
Notable bottom feeders in science include The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, INFO WARS, and Food Babe. Read these sites only if you want to reinforce your comfortable cocoon of pseudoscientific hokum.
When it comes to scientific coverage, we look for two things: First, does the site present compelling scientific coverage? Is the research timely, of good quality, and presented so that people without PhDs can understand it? Second—and increasingly important in the current age of weaponized media coverage—does it uphold factual truth as best we know it over ideological bias? Does the source cover news as it is, or news as flatters the politics of the editor? We strive to bring you stories that can answer yes to both questions.
Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know in the comments below.