The 2016 Lorne Trottier public science symposium series

Science and the Media: The challenge of reporting science responsibly

Logo for 2016 Trottier Symposium.

Click here for the Trottier Symposium webcasts.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Roundtable discussion at 1:30pm

Keynote speakers at 5:30pm

  • Erica Johnson: Busting the Spin Cycle
  • Julia Belluz: The Dr. Oz problem: How reporters should cover the peddlers of bad science

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Live podcast recording: The Body of Evidence at 12:00pm

Keynote speakers at 5:30pm

  • Joel Achenbach: "How to Survive the Age of Bad Information"
  • Trevor Butterworth: "Facts, fiction, and science: where the lines become blurred"

Moderator: Joe Schwarcz, Director, Office for Science and Society

Location: Centre Mont Royal, 1000 Sherbrooke Street West (corner Mansfield)
Except for the Roundtable: McGill Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish Street (Billiards Room, 3rd floor)

FREE admission; no reservations required.


Symposium summary

An apt description of our times may very well be “The Age of Anxiety.” There seems to be widespread worry about everything — from the food we eat to the way it is produced; the water we drink and the air we breathe; the plastics we use, the medications we take, and even the cosmetics we apply. Grappling with these issues requires an understanding and appropriate evaluation of the science that has led to these concerns. Unfortunately, this is where the problem lies, as the vast majority of the population has no access to primary scientific literature. And even if they did, scientific jargon is not easily palatable. It is therefore left to journalists to interpret the results of scientific studies in a responsible fashion and present them to the public. This is no simple task, since there is so much information out there — some definitely worthwhile, others not — but more often than not the reader is not able to assess the difference, and is therefore faced with a deluge of misinformation served up by a host of websites and bloggers, many with vested interests.

This year’s Trottier Symposium, Science and the Media: The challenge of reporting science responsibly, features four prominent journalists, all of whom are highly skilled in communicating science to the public. Whether it may be through their regular newspaper columns, online pieces, or investigative reporting, these speakers will address the challenge of living in this “Age of Anxiety” and how they do so in a responsible fashion.


The symposium will be recorded for distribution as webcasts (both live, and viewing on demand) plus television broadcasts by Canal Savoir.

For additional information: 514-398-2852 or trottiersymposium [dot] science [at] mcgill [dot] ca (email).

About the Trottier Public Science Symposium: One of McGill University’s premier annual events, the Symposium features talks by renowned experts on topics of current public interest and attracts a large audience as well as extensive media attention. Past Symposia have focused on topics such as alternative medicine, pseudoscience, food and nutrition, genetic modification, and vaccines.