“The best way to fight pseudoscience is to inform without teaching”


Coordinator and Editor-in-Chief of the SINC Agency


Pampa García Molina is the Editor-in-Chief of one of the most highly valued projects of science news and outreach in Spain. This is the SINC Agency, an agency for quality news backed by the FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology). She will be one of the lecturers at the “100XCIENCIA” forum, and she is convinced that this will be a great opportunity to spread the word about the most outstanding research centres in the country.


Why did you decide to go into science journalism?

“I wanted to be a journalist, but in COU (equivalent to UK A levels) I preferred to study pure science because I found it entertaining. This closed the doors for me to the faculties of journalism. I took a physics degree, which I enjoyed thanks to outreach books, and already at that time I began to work together with the radio and the press in print. When I finished I worked in a publisher and then I matriculated in a Master’s degree in science journalism, which opened the doors to the profession. I am working in exactly what I wanted to do”.


You are the director SINC one of the most highly rated services by the specialists in science outreach in Spain. What is the secret of its success?

"SINC is a project of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) which decided in 2008 to support science culture in society via journalism, creating an agency specialized in science news, which distributes information under a Creative Commons licence. I think the SINC agency is successful because of the high quality of our content, the specialization of information, the variety of topics we cover and the link to what is now going on and public interest. It is not a mere intuition, it is what we know through the periodic surveys we do with our registered users and the analysis of visits to our website. And, of course, the fact that our content is Creative Commons and may be reproduced quoting the source multiplies the impact of science in the media".


How did you get to be such an independent and useful news portal?

“The utility of our work is due to the way we select and work on the information, aiming to reach a public which is interested but without an academic background in science. Our editorial policy is to stress rigour and honesty towards our readers, for example carefully distinguishing information from opinion”.


Who can publish in SINC, and how? 

“Those of us who publish in SINC are the editors and the journalists who work with us. Also research centres and universities can upload their news to the SINC website, which we can then publish after selection and editing in our editorial office. In this way we build up a network of communicators in the science system that can use SINC to spread the news of the results of their research”.


How are the subjects chosen?

“There is a variety of criteria for choosing subjects, and sometimes this depends on purely practical factors, such as the existence of a good press release with attractive images, but in general we can summarize the criteria as interest and relevance from the scientific and social viewpoint”.


The SINC Agency is successful because of the high quality of our content, because we give specialized information, because of the variety of the material we offer and the link to what is now going on and public interest


How do you rate science communication in Spain?

“I think that in Spain we communicate better and better. And not only that, but we have overcome some past controversies, such as the classical one “Who should communicate science, the scientists or the journalists?” and have started new debates suited to a more mature profession. Or maybe it’s just that I would like it to be that way….”.


What do you think of the “100XCiencia” forum?

 “I think that it gives us an amazing opportunity to meet some of the best scientists in Spain”.


- This year the first Edition of the Severo Ochoa award for centres of excellence comes to an end. Do you think that it has given a satisfactory boost to these centres?

“Yes. In my field I think that it has boosted the activities of science communication a great deal, so that they are given more visibility in the media”.


The communications media (apart from the biggest) devote hardly any space or resources to information about science. But the public demands this information and goes to alternative media which have become the reference in this area. Do you think that the conventional media have missed an opportunity?

“Yes, for a long time the media have not paid enough attention to science, thinking that society was not interested, and this gave rise to a vicious circle. I am sure that if society demands more information about science, well produced, thoughtful, and with sufficient depth, the media will react, … although again, here, this is maybe wishful thinking”.


One of the main problems in transmitting science information in general is the advance of the pseudosciences in the media. How can we stop this?

“In my view, the key is to inform without teaching. I´ll explain this with an example. Last summer, when the child in Olot (whose parents had not vaccinated him against diphtheria) died, we saw different ways of treating this matter. There were those who pointed an accusing finger at those who oppose vaccination, whereas others who, in the name of balance, gave the same weight to these opponents as to the expert epidemiologists, which is stupid. Finally some media made the effort to look at studies of why there are parents, worried about the health of their children but badly informed, let themselves be persuaded by phoney new age beliefs about health and raising children, which leads them to reject vaccination. This is the kind of science journalism which interests me, the kind that tries to understand, explain, and change things, not to point the finger at those who do not know about science”.


Coordination of interviews: Verónica Martín


Contact: info@100xciencia.com       Phone: +34 922605336; +34 660507549
100xCIENCIA Communicating Frontier Science. La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain), October 2015
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