Here’s a story formula for you. Some major event is happening, bound to make headlines for several days. It could be something dramatic, like an earthquake, or perhaps a giant entertainment show or a worldwide box office hit. Maybe it’s more subtle, like a lifestyle trend that is gaining prominence in large parts of the population.
So, what you do is take that event, find some aspect of it that has been scientifically researched, talk to a researcher in the area, write a story and slap “The science of X” in the title.
That’s how you end up with stories such as “Why can’t we all sing well? Eurovision and the science of song”.
I would expect more from you, The Guardian.
My first reaction to these is usually to cringe, because it appears to be such a blatant attention grab by editors who just want to do a certain number of stories on a topic that a huge part of the audience is bound to be searching and reading about anyway.
On the other hand, perhaps this is a good way to “sneak” some science into the heap of coverage that would otherwise be entirely revolving around society and pop culture? Perhaps people reading about it will accidentally learn some science while they’re at it?
Of course, it’s a pretty neat and easy-to-use formula, and unless you go completely out on a limb, that kind of content might be interesting. But is it innovative or important? I’m guessing that depends on who reads these kinds of stories – whether it is the audience who seeks out science, or the audience who seeks out the latest and loudest news.
Do you read them when you see them? Do you think it’s a good formula to use? I really can’t make up my mind.
Oh, and by the way, Latvia totally smashed it at Eurovision. But there’s nothing sciencey about it. I’m only mentioning that because I just watched it.