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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

How Many Punches Can Mother Nature Take in the Gulf of Mexico: Focus on Deepwater Horizon Spill & Science and the Media

Terry Hazen, UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair, ProfessorCollege of Engineering - Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

During the spring and summer of 2010 the national and international media was absolutely rabid about stories on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Hazen’s team was undertaking basic science to understand the effects of oil spill – especially the deepwater plume. During that time, the media was soliciting comments from any possible science “expert” they could find. They were also quoting casual comments from faculty and students collecting and analyzing samples before they had time to analyze data and make good conclusions. In fact, when presented with diametrically opposed stories, the media will often latch on to the most negative view because it is more sensational. It is increasingly important that scientists present their work based on rigorous peer review and not speculate beyond the data used for the peer-reviewed conclusions. Hazen will give examples and suggestions on how to avoid media extravaganzas that can get out of hand.​

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