Scientific publications are a backwater, terse, with half the words in obscure code written for an audience of perhaps a hundred people well known to the authors (and some of the papers have a hundred authors) and maybe their students who can ask one of the hundred for guidance. While this may appear to be an underestimate, scientists concentrate on small parts of larger issues. Thus someone who studies volcanic aerosol feedbacks may read papers on aviation effects on climate but needs to talk to a specialist to when trying to link her knowledge to study of contrails and visa versa. It is this coming together of narrow experts that drives good interdisciplinary science.
Some time ago Eli remarked on the weakness of strangers
What amateurs lack as a group is perspective, an understanding of how everything fits together and a sense of proportion. Graduate training is designed to pass lore from advisors to students. You learn much about things that didn't work and therefore were never published [hey Prof. I have a great idea!...Well actually son, we did that back in 06 and wasted two years on it], whose papers to trust, and which to be suspicious of [Hey Prof. here's a great new paper!... Son, don't trust that clown.] In short the kind of local knowledge that allows one to cut through the published literature thicket.The literature has tended to inclusion because in small fields, everyone except the clowns, knows who the clowns are, and what the journal of last resort is. Email sped up the cycle in which problem papers are identified and subsequently ignored. In an expert oriented literature, the experts know what papers to ignore. Occasionally the error is subtle or so outrageous that a comment is needed and allowed by the embarrassed editors. Even less occasionally a bad paper raises serious issues that must be explored more thoroughly. In the past, when outsiders (governments, industries) needed an understanding groups of experts were assembled and told to first figure it out and then to dumb it down, thus the various national research councils, the IPCC, NIH and FDA panels, etc.
But this lack makes amateurs prone to get caught in the traps that entangled the professionals' grandfathers, and it can be difficult to disabuse them of their discoveries. Especially problematical are those who want science to validate preconceived political notions, and those willing to believe they are Einstein and the professionals are fools. Put these two types together and you get a witches brew of ignorance and attitude.
There are now fields (climate, parts of medicine, tobacco caused disease) where this model no longer functions. The good news is that the need for a new model is driven by public interest in the field. The bad news is that this is being manipulated by malign political and commercial interests who are replicating the suppression of science by the tobacco, and asbestos industries
A small number of ideologues are busy building Pielke villages, and we have not even got to the vanity press. These papers are trumpeted by the denialist propaganda machine
As Boris said over on Stoat, "If there's something stupid to believe, there is someone on the internet who believes it."
For what the editors consider important work published in Science, short descriptions of the new result are provided with an emphasis on context. This is a natural for electronic media, although obviously not every publication needs or deserves this treatment. To a great extent comments in an open review process provide this.
UPDATE: If you want to know about the picture, read the comments and blame Ankh.