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Encouraging Deadly Choices: AIDS Pseudo-Science in the Media

Year: 2007
Working paper number: 182
Author: Geffen, Nathan
Unit: ASRU

This article discusses the impact and ethics of media coverage on two forms of pseudo-science, namely HIV medical pseudo-science and environmental pseudo-science. The first section introduces some questions that should be raised when assessing the impact of reporting pseudo-science in the media. Coverage on environmental pseudo-science is discussed and contrasted with examples of a more deadly form of denial, HIV pseudo-science, in the second section of the article. The various arguments in support of freedom of information are evaluated in relation to the ethics of reporting HIV pseudo-scientific claims in the media, particularly given South Africa's burgeoning HIV epidemic. The final section of this article presents a number of practical recommendations for editors, journalists and scientists in order to provide an ethical framework for evaluating and covering potentially harmful pseudo-scientific claims in the media. 

Publication file: WP182.pdf