Cover Image: Beyond the Hype

Beyond the Hype

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I like the idea behind this, but I struggled quite a lot with the execution. Fiona Fox takes us behind the scenes of some of her recollections of key media controversies in the UK over a series of years. These were big headlines, some of which were improperly represented or later unpicked, but which still served to inform science reporting and the understanding of the general public surrounding a number of important scientific discoveries. 

The introduction highlights some of the authors interests in the matter, what her professional background is and why that makes her well placed to talk about some of these moments in scientific reporting. She admits that much of it is designed to be a diary of sorts, not a fact-finding exercise as much of it is recalled from her memory from working directly within some of the webs these stories created. Having said that, that does mean you have to take some of it with a little step back to ensure you see opinion for what it is - not fact. 

Despite this, it does feel quite fairly represented and there is quite a large degree of information supporting much of what she says. In fact, so much so that it can feel quite overwhelming and difficult to take in. I enjoyed it in small portions - a chapter here and there - and this worked well because each chapter unpicked a new headline and evaluated some of the key events which led to the reporting, redaction or publication of some of the discoveries and some of the experiences which influenced what we now think about some of those things.

For context, Fox opens the novel discussing GM (genetically modified foods) and looks at which this meant for GM scientists and how that shaped what we now do with GM. She then looks at animal testing and some of the ethical concepts behind this, some of the leading researchers who were impacted by the use of animal testing, and perhaps some of the things that have been misrepresented over time (use of decades old images which almost certainly wouldn't be reflective of animal testing now, for example). So, you'll see from even those two opening topics that it's pretty heavy going, but interesting nonetheless. 

So that's truly how I feel about this book - it was interesting, definitely, but it was incredibly dense and heavy going so I wouldn't say it was the most compelling book of its kind.
Was this review helpful?
This was a great book to read that didn't try and change your mind on any of the science issues; it just gave you more of a background on them. The media is a hard thing to navigate especially now with its lighting fast capabilities. The book is insightful into what could have been changed and what could have been done better. 


I received this book as a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is EXCELLENT. You guys, reading this fascinating and insightful trip down memory lane felt like getting long-delayed therapy for something I didn't even know I needed therapy for.  I didn't want to this to end. Such a fascinating look at a decade I mostly remember.
Was this review helpful?
The author writes about Science and its role with profound honesty and humility. It is influential and interesting and I loved the book.
Was this review helpful?
“Beyond the Hype: The Inside Story of Science's Biggest Media Controversies” reads more like a memoir of the author (Fiona Fox) and her work at the Science Media Centre (SMC). This is not necessarily a bad or negative thing as she does a good job, regaling common scientific media debates of the last decades. I do think the fact that reads as a memoir sometimes detracts from the overall message,

the book changed my opinions on some of the debates, strengthened others and commented on a pertinent point for me as I suffer from CFS (chapter 3).

I did enjoy this book, and I will be recommending it once it is published to my peers both in academia (sciences), my students and anyone who enjoys popular science books. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Elliot&Thompson for allowing to read this arc, in exchange for a review.
Was this review helpful?
Science is a part of the daily news cycle, and nowadays it seems stories get exponentially scarier every day. The science that is reported effects us all in one way or another, but there is more to it than a scientist making a discovery and just telling the world. This book does a great job of pulling back the curtain and showing how science journalism works and how it has evolved with some of the biggest scientific events of the last twenty years. Fox shares how the SMC (Science Media Centre) believes in the importance of having scientists communicating with the media, to help explain the nuance behind their work and help temper expectations for what a study could mean. When the SMC says “the media will DO science better when scientists DO the media better,” they really mean it.

Covid, genetically modified crops, animal testing, and more controversial topics are discussed, but not in a way to provide moral judgement. Instead we see how they were handled and changes they caused.  This book is centered on the UK, the institutions and people that make up the science and journalism covered there, but there is enough context given for most to understand. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. I found it exciting and well -paced. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, though. Instead of a broad assessment of the area, the book reads more like a biography of the Science Media Centre (SMC) and a memoir of its founder, Fiona Fox. The stories discussed all revolve around the SMC and what it accomplishes or at least tries to. It is also mostly limited to the UK, but I think that the lessons in the book are broadly applicable. I thought that the book was honest and it discusses both successes and failures. Overall I consider this a must-read for medical communication professionals and anyone interested in the history of science, albeit a very recent history. Thank you to Netgalley and Elliott & Thompson for the advance reader copy.
Was this review helpful?