According to an article published in the journal Science entitled “Science, New Media, and the Public” by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele, blog comments and the autocomplete suggestions provided by search engines (such as Google Instant results) may produce a psychological bias that alter the way people interpret and make sense of scientific information on the Internet.
As mentioned by Brossard and Scheufele, non-traditional sources of information such as blogs, have become a primary source of information about science for people; with around fifty-percent of Americans relying on them instead of other online sources. Additionally, ninety-percent of Internet users in the United States depend on search engines to discover this information.
Considering these numbers and the importance of scientific knowledge to society, an obligation may fall upon online publishers to make sure that their readers are presented with accurate information, and are subject to as little bias as possible. It therefore may behoove publishers reporting on science to take the necessary actions to mitigate the bias their readers will face by disabling comments, providing an alternative means of discourse, or altering other site features.