Suppose a scientist finds that a product being used by some industry to help enhance their products is in fact dangerous. Their research is peer reviewed by other scientists, who find no fault. Imagine there are no regulatory bodies that the scientist can pass this information to. She contacts politicians and civil servants, but the government is too close to the industry and the opposition are too busy on other things.
She contacts the media. Most journalists do not have time to understand what she has done, check that other scientists agree with the results and write it up, while others know that because the industry advertises with their paper any story will be spiked. She gets invited on to one TV programme, where she finds herself pitted against an industry representative practiced at PR who dismisses what she has done. Nothing happens as a result.
How do we stop this kind of thing happening? Do we suggest that the scientist gets some media training so she can debate better on TV, or hires a PR company so that more journalists take notice of what she has done? Or do we lambaste journalists for not doing their job properly, imagining we are still in a bygone era where journalists had time to investigate?
In this particular example most countries have chosen a better model, where they set up regulatory bodies staffed with other scientists that have the job of assessing research of this kind, bodies which governments find it difficult to ignore. But what happens if, for whatever reason, these institutions do not exist?
In the space of two years the UK has had three referendums/elections in which economic issues have been key. In the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit the view of the overwhelming majority of economists have been clear , but in the media this view was/is typically ‘balanced’ by an opposing view. In the UK election the views of macroeconomists on austerity were more diffuse, but a clear majority did not think austerity had a positive effect on the economy. The media largely ignored this view.
I naturally think there is something wrong here, and I also doubt that the answer is to give macroeconomists more media training. We need a debate about what the right answer is. 
 In the Scottish referendum the clear view was that there would be large short term fiscal costs arising from independence.
 My thanks to the organisers of this event for starting this debate, and in particular to members of the audience whose questions this post is a better answer to!