October 14, 2007: Studying how a broker's brain works. swissinfo. "To help maintain its competitive edge, the Swiss banking industry is investing heavily in financial engineering. Its latest recruit is economist Peter Bossaerts. swissinfo talked to Bossaerts, a leading expert in neuroeconomics – the study of how we make financial choices - about his recent appointment as professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.... swissinfo: So what exactly is neuroeconomics? Peter Bossaerts: It's a mixture of decisional theory - (...) mathematical theories applied in risk-based decision-making - and neuroscience.... Neurofinance, therefore, tries to understand how choices are made in a risky world. It looks closely at the workings of the brain while taking into account human emotions.... swissinfo: What is the aim of your work? P.B.: Firstly, to make progress on how people make choices when dealing with risk.... Neuroeconomics should also help improve decisional theory, which doesn't work in the real world where rules are vague and probabilities are unknown. The aim is to build up artificial intelligence based on a theory where decision-making is repeated." >>> Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Finance & Investing, Applications. (shrink)
The public communication of science and technology has become increasingly important over the last several decades. However, understanding the audience that receives this information remains the weak link in the science communication process. This essay provides a brief review of some of the issues involved, discusses results from an audience-based study, and suggests some strategies that both scientists and journalists can use to modify media coverage in ways that can help audiences better understand major public issues that involve (...)science and technology. (shrink)
Misunderstanding Science? offers a challenging new perspective on the public understanding of science. In so doing, it also challenges existing ideas of the nature of science and its relationships with society. Its analysis and case presentation are highly relevant to current concerns over the uptake, authority, and effectiveness of science as expressed, for example, in areas such as education, medical/health practice, risk and the environment, technological innovation. Based on several in-depth case-studies, and informed theoretically by the (...) sociology of scientific knowledge, the book shows how the public understanding of science questions raises issues of the epistemic commitments and institutional structures which constitute modern science. It suggests that many of the inadequacies in the social integration and uptake of science might be overcome if modern scientific institutions were more reflexive and open about the implicit normative commitments embedded in scientific cultures. (shrink)
Did Newton "unweave the rainbow" by reducing it to its prismatic colors, as Keats contended? Did he, in other words, diminish beauty? Far from it, says Dawkins--Newton's unweaving is the key too much of modern astronomy and to the breathtaking poetry of modern cosmology. Mysteries don't lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution often is more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering deeper mystery. (The Keats who spoke of "unweaving the rainbow" was a very young man, Dawkins reminds us.) (...) With the wit, insight, and spellbinding prose that have made his books worldwide bestsellers, Dawkins addresses the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, and combines them in a landmark statement of the human appetite for wonder. This is the book that Richard Dawkins was meant to write: a brilliant assessment of what science is (and what it isn't), a tribute to science "not because it is useful (though it is), but but because it is uplifting, in the same way as the best poetry is uplifting.". (shrink)
Internal mechanisms that uphold the reliability of published scientific results have failed across many sciences, including some that are major sources of sciencenews. Traditional methods for reporting science in the mass media do not effectively compensate for this unreliability. I argue for a new conceptual framework in which science journalists and scientists form a complex knowledge community, with sciencenews as the interdisciplinary product. This approach motivates forms of collaboration and training that can (...) improve the epistemic reliability of sciencenews. (shrink)
In 1996, Alan Sokal, a Professor of Physics at New York University, wrote a paper for the cultural-studies journal Social Text, entitled: 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity'. It was reviewed, accepted and published. Sokal immediately confessed that the whole article was a hoax - a cunningly worded paper designed to expose and parody the style of extreme postmodernist criticism of science. The story became front-page news around the world and triggered fierce and wide-ranging (...) controversy. -/- Sokal is one of the most powerful voices in the continuing debate about the status of evidence-based knowledge. In Beyond the Hoax he turns his attention to a new set of targets - pseudo-science, religion, and misinformation in public life. 'Whether my targets are the postmodernists of the left, the fundamentalists of the right, or the muddle-headed of all political and apolitical stripes, the bottom line is that clear thinking, combined with a respect for evidence, are of the utmost importance to the survival of the human race in the twenty-first century.' The book also includes a hugely illuminating annotated text of the Hoax itself, and a reflection on the furore it provoked. (shrink)
In considering how to best deploy robotic systems in public and private sectors, we must consider what individuals will expect from the robots with which they interact. Public awareness of robotics—as both military machines and domestic helpers—emerges out of a braided stream composed of science fiction and popular science. These two genres influence news media, government and corporate spending, and public expectations. In the Euro-American West, both science fiction and popular science are ambivalent about the (...) military applications for robotics, and thus we can expect their readers to fear the dangers posed by advanced robotics while still eagerly anticipating the benefits to be accrued through them. The chief pop science authors in robotics and artificial intelligence have a decidedly apocalyptic bent and have thus been described as leaders in a social movement called "Apocalyptic AI." In one form or another, such authors look forward to a transcendent future in which machine life succeeds human life, thanks to the march of evolutionary progress. The apocalyptic promises of popular robotics presume that presently exponential growth in computing will continue indefinitely, producing a "Singularity." During the Singularity, technological progress will be so rapid that undreamt of changes will take place on earth, the most important of which will be the evolutionary succession of human beings by massively intelligent robots and the "uploading" of human consciousness into computer bodies. This supposedly inevitable transition into post-biological life looms across the entire scope of pop robotics and artificial intelligence, and it is from beneath that shadow that all popular books engage the military and the ethics of warfare. Creating a just future will require that we transcend the apocalyptic discourse of pop science and establish an ethical approach to researching and deploying robots, one that emphasizes human rather than robot welfare; doing so will require the collaboration of social scientists, humanists, and scientists. (shrink)
Media reporting of science has consequences for public debates on the ethics of research. Accordingly, it is crucial to understand how the sciences of the brain and the mind are covered in the media, and how coverage is received and negotiated. The authors report here their sociological findings from a case study of media coverage and associated reader comments of an article from Annals of Neurology. The media attention attracted by the article was high for cognitive science; further, (...) as associates/members of the Centre where it was produced, the authors of the research reported here had rare insight into how the scientists responsible for the Annals of Neurology article interacted with the media. The data corpus included 37 news items and 228 readers’ comments, examined via qualitative thematic analysis. Media coverage of the article was largely accurate, without merely copying the press release. Analysis of reader comments showed these to be an important resource for considering issues of import to neuroethics scholars, as well as to scientists themselves. In particular, the findings demonstrate how personal experiences were vital in shaping readers’ accounts of their agreements with the scientific article. Furthermore, the data show how scientific research can catalyse political discussions in ways likely unanticipated by scientists. The analysis indicates the importance of dialogue between journalists, laboratory scientists and social scientists in order to support the communication of the messages researchers intend. (shrink)
Eview This Encyclopedia would be a useful guide to this growing area of philosophy. - Library Journal Thoughtful, concise essays that are both well structured and ordered... Larger schools with advanced courses of study in philosophy and/or bioethics will find this an extremely valuable addition to their collection. Highly recommended. -Choice Contributors from many countries provide a reference to developments in the philosophy of science since the beginning of the 20th century, that is, themes that have emerged starting with (...) the period of the Vienna Circle, the ideas of which were just beginning to spread to other communities in the 1930s when the rise of Nazism and the subsequent war complicated thinking somewhat. The figures they consider are strictly philosophers, with no scientists allowed however philosophical they might have been, and to those whose work is distant enoughto allow a historical appraisal, with a few exceptions such as Chomsky and Searle. The entries, each about seven pages long, are signed, and include bibliographies and references to other entries. The two volumes are paged and indexed together. -Reference & Research Book News Book Description The philosophy of science is the branch of philosophy that examines the profound philosophical questions that arise from scientific research and theories. A sub-discipline of philosophy that emerged in the twentieth century, the philosophy of science is largely a product of the British and Austrian schools of thought and traditions. The first in-depth reference in the field that combines scientific knowledge with philosophical inquiry, The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia is a two-volume set that brings together an international team of leading scholars to provide over 130 entries on the essential concepts in the philosophy of science. The areas covered include biology, chemistry, epistemology and metaphysics, physics, psychology and mind, the social sciences, and key figures in the combined studies of science and philosophy. Essays range in length from 3,000 to 7,500 words and represent the most up-to-date philosophical thinking on timeless scientific topics such as determinism, explanation, laws of nature, perception, individuality, time, and economics as well as timely topics like adaptation, conservation biology, quantum logic, consciousness, evolutionary psychology, and game theory. Offering thorough explorations and destined to become the most authoritative presentation of the field available, this Encyclopedia is a unique and groundbreaking guide to this fascinating field. Product Details Hardcover: 1048 pages Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 19, 2005) Language: English ISBN-10: 0415939275 ISBN-13: 978-0415939270 Code: Link checked on Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:42. (shrink)
A ‘companions in guilt’ strategy against moral error theory aims to show that the latter proves too much: if sound, it supports an implausible error-theoretic conclusion in other areas such as epistemic or practical reasoning. Christopher Cowie [2016 Cowie, C. 2016. Good News for Moral Error Theorists: A Master Argument Against Companions in Guilt Strategies, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94/1: 115–30.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®] [Google Scholar]] has recently produced what he claims is a ‘master (...) argument’ against all such strategies. The essence of his argument is that CG arguments cannot work because they are afflicted by internal incoherence or inconsistency. I argue, first, that Cowie's master argument does not succeed. Beyond this, I argue that there is no good reason to think that any such argument—one that purports to identify an internal incoherence in CG arguments—can succeed. Second, I argue that the main substantive area of disagreement between error theorists and CG theorists essentially concerns the conceptual profile of epistemic reasons—specifically, whether they are strongly categorical—not the ontological question of whether such reasons exist. I then develop an argument in favour of the CG theorist's position by considering the moral error theorist's arguments in support of the conceptual claim that moral reasons are strongly categorical. These include, notably, criticisms made by Joyce  and Olson  of Finlay's  ‘end relational’ view of morality, according to which moral reasons are relative to some end or standard, hence not strongly categorical. Examining these criticisms, I argue that, based on what moral error theorists have said regarding the conceptual profile of moral reasons, there is a strong case to be made that moral reasons are strongly categorical if and only if epistemic reasons are. (shrink)
Review of the book by mathematician and science writer Amir Aczel, Why Science does not Disprove God, recently reissued in paperback, with a focus on the chapters on mathematics and God, and criticisms from the standpoint of the epistemology of the science and religion dialogue.
Amit Goswami published his book, "The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World", in 1993. In 1996, he and Henry Swift started up the online newsletter Science Within Consciousness, which carries articles and news features connected with the Goswamian philosophy. Below, I comment on Goswami 's metaphysical theories as represented in his writings in the SWC newsletter, especially in his pieces: Monistic Idealism May Provide Better Ontology for Cognitive Science: A Reply to Dyer, The Hard Question: (...) View from A Science Within Consciousness, Toward an Understanding of the Paranormal, Amit Goswami was a professor at the Institute of Theoretical Science at the University of Oregon. He taught physics for 32 years in the USA, mostly at Oregon. He now is Senior Resident Researcher at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. (shrink)
Walker Percy was both a medical doctor and a serious Catholic—a scientist and a religious believer. He thought, however, that science had become hegemonic in the twentieth century and that it was incapable of answering the most fundamental needs of human beings. He thus leveled a critique of the scientific method and its shortcomings in failing to address the individual person over against the group. In response to these shortcomings Percy postulates a religious understanding of human life, one in (...) which man's life is understood as a pilgrimage or a search. The person who searches may not find the “object” of his search during his earthly life, but it is likely that he will come to a better understanding of himself by means of it. (shrink)
The debate between science and religion is never out of the news: emotions run high, fuelled by polemical bestsellers like The God Delusion and, at the other end of the spectrum, high-profile campaigns to teach 'Intelligent Design' in schools. Yet there is much more to the debate than the clash of these extremes. As Thomas Dixon shows in this balanced and thought-provoking introduction, many have seen harmony rather than conflict between faith and science. He explores not only (...) the key philosophical questions that underlie the debate, but also the social, political, and ethical contexts that have made 'science and religion' such a fraught and interesting topic in the modern world, offering perspectives from non-Christian religions and examples from across the physical, biological, and social sciences. Along the way, he examines landmark historical episodes such as the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633, and the famous debate between 'Darwin's bulldog' Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce in Oxford in 1860. The Scopes 'Monkey Trial' in Tennessee in 1925 and the Dover Area School Board case of 2005 are explained with reference to the interaction between religion, law, and education in modern America. (shrink)
Internet users have access to a multitude of science-related information – on journalistic news sites but also on blogs with user-generated content. In this context, we investigated in two studies the factors which influence laypersons’ selective exposure. In an experiment with a collection of online news, parents were asked to search for information about the controversy surrounding violence in the media. Texts from high-reputation sources were clicked on more frequently – regardless of content –, whereas ratings by (...) others had limited effects. In a second experiment, the expertise and gender of blog authors as well as valence and number of ratings were varied. In this setting, texts from sources with positive ratings were read for longer. Results show that laypersons make use of credibility cues when deciding which articles to read. For online news sites, media reputation is most important, whereas in blogs, ratings are taken into account more frequently. (shrink)
Defining terms -- The real world -- The news -- Reading as vacation -- Uses of culture -- The postmodern smirk -- The corporate gallery -- Icons and idols -- Man as Romanian -- Dowsing and science -- Origin myths -- Diplomatic memoir -- A syndrome of simile and metaphor -- Three dreams, one trip -- My obituaries -- Salt water -- My coronation -- Representations -- The pornographic dream -- Against art fairs -- Rescuing the subject from (...) the picture -- Branding the arts -- The end of the affair -- A defense of virtuosity -- Mere esthetics. (shrink)
This paper attempts to signal the potential relevance of A Test of the News, written by Lippmann and Merz, for Critical Discourse Analysis. It seems that the study is overlooked by CDA’s experts as a pioneering work in press analysis. In order to demonstrate links between CDA and the research, in the first part, the work of Lippmann and Merz is situated within a wider picture of the theoretical and historical background as well as common views on politics and (...) the role of the press. Then, the reasons for the choice of the Times as a medium of research and the Russian Revolution as a topic are stated. The authors’ methodological assumptions are discussed in brief. The second part begins with an attempt to define the concept of CDA. The next section presents a theoretical framework of CDA in order to indicate that Lippmann’s and Merz’s analysis demonstrates a similar theoretical approach. Additionally, the tools used by authors are compared with those used in CDA. The parallel between the central role of the media discourse in CDA and the concern of the authors of the role of the press is also discussed. Since the active role of the reader and the hearer in constructing the meaning of the text corresponds with the views of the authors on the discrepancy between the real world and its representation, the next section is devoted to this issue. Finally, readers’ abilities, discussed by Lippmann and Merz, are viewed in relation to the significance of reader’s experiences in constructing the meaning of a text. (shrink)
Food irradiation has been acommercially viable postharvest technology fornearly 50 years (the actual idea of usingionizing radiation to extend the shelf-life offoods is over a century old), yet it has beenused only occasionally and sporadically.Interviews with reporters and the sources theyused at a Louisiana newspaper and a Floridanewspaper uncovered three cultural spherespresent in the debate over this post harvesttechnology – food, science/technology, andjournalism. Each of these spheres were pointsof contention for reporters and sources, andthis has had an affect on (...) the adoption of thetechnology among those involved in the foodindustry. Interviews with both reporters andthe individuals they relied on as sourceselucidate how different issues encompassedwithin different cultural spheres have beenlinked to this post harvest technology, andhave been used to help shape this debate. Thesecultural spheres offer various groups power tocontrol relations with reporters, though thatpower can be usurped by others, including thereporters themselves. Interviews with reportersand their sourses may help us understand howthe values attached to cultural spheres aremobilized by various groups to make sense of acontroversial topic, and how those groups gainentrance to public arenas and are then able tomaintain their presence. (shrink)
A functioning democracy depends on the free flow of information in the marketplace of ideas, creating an informed citizenry that can engage in public debate.This study examines the most-used online news portal, Yahoo!, to determine if the news media industry can be simultaneously profitable and socially responsible, providing the public with news that is both informative and engaging in an increasingly global world.
Since the 1980s, the mass media have changed the way they cover major political stories, like foreign policy crises. As a consequence, what the public learns about these events has changed. More media outlets cover major events than in the past, including the entertainment-oriented soft news media. When they do cover a political story, soft news outlets focus more on than traditional news media and less on the political or strategic context, or substantive nuances, of policy debates. (...) Many Americans who previously ignored most political news now attend to some information about major political events, like wars, via the soft news media. These changes have important implications for democratic politics. Most importantly, a large number of particularly persuadable potential voters are now tuning in to politics via soft news outlets. This gives politicians an incentive to develop strategies for reaching out to them. Such individuals care less about the nuances of policy and more about the personality of leaders and any sensational human drama that a policy, like a war, entails. Soft news consumers care less about geopolitics than about body bags. Politicians who want their votes are therefore likely to emphasize body bags more than geopolitics. In short, the media environment changes both the style and substance of politics in democracies. (shrink)
This article examines the ways that new communications technologies change the organization of politics as well as the content of news. Changes in the media lead to changes in the mediators, the persons who choose and interpret the news for the public. When new mediators convey different news stories or offer different interpretations from the previous regime, they redistribute control of politics and culture.
This paper explores the economic factors that influence news coverage and discusses the difficulties of determining the impact of news content on political outcomes. Evidence from the United States clearly shows how supply and demand concepts can be used to predict content in newspapers, television, and the Internet. To demonstrate how the concept of market-driven news extends beyond the US, I trace out hypotheses about how media content in many countries should vary depending on three factors in (...)news markets: the motivations of media outlet owners, the technologies of information dissemination available, and the property rights that govern how information is created and conveyed. I offer three different types of analyses to show how these ideas about competition influencing content could be tested across countries. The paper briefly discusses the degree to which market competition affects content in three Asian countries (China, Thailand, and Japan) and concludes with a section on the difficulties of designing policies to improve the operation of media markets. (shrink)
A fundamental component of liberal democracy has only recently been examined in Japan; rarer still are assessments of the impact of media consumption on political awareness. In this paper, we utilize two recent sources to address two related questions: (1) what factors influence Japanese political knowledge? and (2) is the changing media environment in Japan having an influence on what citizens know about political affairs? With regard to the first question, we find, in line with previous studies in the US (...) context, that knowledge is explained by education, gender, and politically impinged employment as base factors, with interest, efficacy, and civic duty playing a role as second-stage behavioral factors. Evidence of other traits presumed to distinguish the more informed Japanese remains mixed. Regarding the second question, we find that the effects of media exposure on knowledge vary. Where the GLOPE2005 finds an influence of regular newspaper reading, the JESIII indicates that watching a TV news program also boosts knowledge. The JESIII results reveal further that, ceteris paribus, regular exposure to NHK contributes to higher levels of knowledge at a rate that is comparable to a one unit increase in educational attainment. Conversely, we find that softer news programs (e.g., Fuji TV's Super News) have a depressive effect that appears to decrease knowledge as exposure accumulates. The direction of the causal arrow is not entirely clear. At the same time, our findings lend credence to previous work that raises concerns about the of Japanese (and US) news programming (e.g., Taniguchi, 2007; Prior, 2005). Rather than demystifying or democratizing Japanese politics, softer programs may simply be perpetuating extant gaps between elites and the public. (shrink)
This study explores the role that news coverage plays in the allocation of Japanese development aid. Conceptually, it is expected that democratic foreign policy officials, including those working in bureaucratic governmental structures will try to match the magnitude of their actions with what they expect is the public's perception of the importance of the recipient. News media salience serves an easily accessible indicator of that domestic political importance and, in the case of foreign aid, this suggests that higher (...) levels of news coverage of a less-developed country will lead to higher aid commitments. The statistical analysis demonstrates that the level of news coverage is a statistically significant factor in Japanese aid distributions. More significantly, the analysis demonstrates that separating grant aid from other forms of aid is critical for the empirical examination of the determinants of Japanese aid. (shrink)
I live in Seattle, the city which last Fall was host to two major international conferences of interest to science fiction readers: The Annual International IEEE Symposium on Virtual Reality (VRAIS- 93) and The 5th ACM Conference on Hypertext (Hypertext-93). I was able to attend both conferences, and I'll use this column to provide an overview of what I learned there.
The history of sonar technology provides a fascinating case study for philosophers of science. During the first and second World Wars, sonar technology was primarily associated with activity on the part of the sonar technicians and researchers. Usually this activity is concerned with creation of sound waves under water, as in the classic “ping and echo”. The last fifteen years have seen a shift toward passive, ambient noise “acoustic daylight imaging” sonar. Along with this shift a new relationship has (...) begun between sonar technicians and environmental ethics. I have found a significant shift in the values, and the environmental ethics, of the underwater community by looking closely at the term “noise” as it has been conceptualized and reconceptualized in the history of sonar technology. To illustrate my view, I will include three specific sets of information: 1) a discussion of the 2003 debate regarding underwater active low- frequency sonar and its impact on marine life; 2) a review of the history of sonar technology in diagrams, abstracts, and artifacts; 3) the latest news from February 2004 on how the military and the acoustic daylight imaging passive sonar community has responded to the current debates. (shrink)
Mass media ethics and the classical liberal ideal of the autonomous individual are historically linked and professionally dominant--yet the authors of this work feel this is intrinsically flawed. They show how recent research in philosophy and social science--together with a longer tradition in theological inquiry--insist that community, mutuality, and relationship are fundamental to a full concept of personhood. The authors argue that "persons-in-community" provides a more defensible grounding for journalists' professional moral decision-making in crucial areas such as truthtelling, privacy, (...) organizational culture, and balanced coverage. With numerous examples drawn from life as well as from theory, this book will interest journalists, editors, and professionals in media management as well as students and scholars of media ethics, reporting, and media law. (shrink)
The theory of fast and frugal heuristics, developed in a new book called Simple Heuristics that make Us Smart (Gigerenzer, Todd, and the ABC Research Group, in press), includes two requirements for rational decision making. One is that decision rules are bounded in their rationality –- that rules are frugal in what they take into account, and therefore fast in their operation. The second is that the rules are ecologically adapted to the environment, which means that they `fit to reality.' (...) The main purpose of this article is to apply these ideas to learning rules–-methods for constructing, selecting, or evaluating competing hypotheses in science, and to the methodology of machine learning, of which connectionist learning is a special case. The bad news is that ecological validity is particularly difficult to implement and difficult to understand. The good news is that it builds an important bridge from normative psychology and machine learning to recent work in the philosophy of science, which considers predictive accuracy to be a primary goal of science. (shrink)
Scientific-technological innovation (particularly in the field of transgenic foods and cloning), scientific journalism and public opinion all share a complex relationship. The rupture of internal consensus among the scientific community, the role played by scientific journalists as "mediators" and the differentiation between what can be referred to as the "informed public" or "epistemological leaders" and the rest of the population were the starting point for our research on the impact of news related to biotechnological advances. In this paper we (...) will show the principal characteristics of the discourse on this type of news among what we can call the "informed public". From there, we will establish a set of strategies for improving the level of scientific-technological alphabetisation in our complex societies. (shrink)
Abstract The questions of whether the news media are biased, and if so, in what direction, typically generate more heat than light. Here, we review some of the most recent and meritorious empirical studies on media bias. This evidence suggests that several prominent national news outlets have a distinct slant to the left or right, and that exposure to these sources influences both public opinion and voting behavior.
BackgroundThe global expansion of biobanks has led to a range of bioethical concerns related to consent, privacy, control, ownership, and disclosure. As an opportunity to engage broader audiences on these concerns, bioethicists have welcomed the commercial success of Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. To assess the impact of the book on discussion within the media and popular culture more generally, we systematically analyzed the ethics-related themes emphasized in reviews and articles about the book, and (...) in interviews and profiles of Skloot.MethodsWe conducted a content analysis of a population of relevant English-language articles and transcripts (n = 125) produced by news organizations and publications in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain/Ireland, and Australia/New Zealand. We scored each article for the emphasis and appearance of 9 ethics-related themes. These were informed consent, welfare of the vulnerable, compensation, scientific progress, control/access, accountability/oversight, privacy, public education, and advocacy.ResultsThe informed consent theme dominated media discussion, with almost 39.2 percent of articles/transcripts featuring the theme as a major focus and 44.8 percent emphasizing the theme as a minor focus. Other prominent themes and frames of reference focused on the welfare of the vulnerable (18.4 percent major emphasis; 36.0 percent minor emphasis), and donor compensation (19.2 percent major; 52.8 percent minor). Ethical themes that comprised a second tier of prominence included those of scientific progress, control/access, and accountability/oversight. The least prominent themes were privacy, public education, and advocacy.ConclusionsThe book has been praised as an opportunity to elevate media discussion of bioethics, but such claims should be re-considered. The relatively narrow focus on informed consent in the media discussion generated by Skloot’s book may limit the ability of ethicists and advocates to elevate attention to donor control, compensation, patenting, privacy, and other ethical issues. Still, ethicists should view the book and a pending major TV film translation as opportunities to highlight through media outreach, consultation exercises and public forums a broader range of bioethical concerns that would otherwise be under-emphasized in news coverage. Such efforts, however, need to be carefully planned and evaluated. (shrink)