Funny “New Scientist” headline generator

Whoever writes the “Endless Forms . . ” website has made a deliberate tour de force: he/she created a Twitter account that automatically generates the type of gee-whiz headlines characteristic of the popular-science mag New Scientist.

In the website post on this, the author avers that he/she likes New Scientist (I don’t: I deplore its sensationalism and the wonky evolution views of its editor Roger Highfield), and created the account just as a joke. Nevertheless, it’s not just a joke, but sarcasm—and thereby even funnier.

The Twi**er site is “Not New Scientist” and it already has 252 followers. The latest batch of “headlines” is below.

Note that the site’s logo is the infamous “Darwin was wrong” cover of New Scientist, which was egregious and misleading (see my post here), for the “wrong” part referred to Darwin’s assumption of bifurcating (or trifurcating or whatever) species trees; the editor claimed this was wrong because of horizontal gene exchange.  Well, such gene exchange is common in bacteria, but not so common in eukaryotes, and certainly not common enough to efface the genalogical relationships between species. Darwin was NOT wrong, and they screwed up badly on that one.

But I digress: to the tw**ts:

Screen shot 2014-01-21 at 12.29.02 PM Screen shot 2014-01-21 at 12.29.46 PMCats: It’s time to rewrite the textbooks!

And I bet I could write an article for New Scientist about “Why Gregor Mendel was wrong”. For example, he didn’t deal with linkage, transposable elements, epigenetics, etc. etc. etc. Time to throw the outmoded paradigm of Mendel out the window.


  1. Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It is sad how realistic those sound…

  2. Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link! I’m finding it amusing just watching it run in private. When I say I like NS and their headlines, I do mean for entertainment value. They’re good at coming up with outlandish buzzwords and sensationalism. I admit that occasionally it is the science itself that makes the headlines so bizarre (there is some genuinely weird research going on, especially in physics).

    I’ve noticed there’s a lot of New Scientist staff following the account now.

    • Marella
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Probably looking for ideas!

  3. Derek
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I was a great fan of New Scientist way back – good articles, puzzles, and some really interesting columnists – but no more. It has developed a style (both visually and in its writing) that I seem to see more and more: Time has it, Scientific American has it, even Consumer Reports has picked it up to some extent. It’s “xxx for people with the attention span of toddlers”.
    Peter Harrison’s headline generator is great – it’s Choprawoo all over again. Thanks.

  4. Clive Page
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree. I had a subscription to New Scientist for some decades, but gave up a couple of years ago. Once upon a time most of its articles were written by scientists, engineers, mathematicians etc. Now nearly all are from journalists or “science writers” who really don’t understand the subjects that they write on at all well enough. I switched to Scientific American, but more and more of their articles are also by “science writers”. I’m not sure I’ll bother to renew my subscription as it continues to dumb down.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      I gave up my subscription after the ‘Darwin was wrong’ headline. I formed the impression that ‘story’ had taken precedence over ‘content’, and that headline and article confirmed it for me.

    • Marta
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Just don’t switch to Nature, incompetently edited by Henry Gee.

      Dr. Gee’s latest bit of buffoonery involves revealing the real life identity of an otherwise pseudonymous science writer, because he thought they were being mean, and he was tired of it.

      • Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that was absolutely deplorable. I criticized him on this site, too, and I never described the consequences, which included multiple emails from him and his friends (including intimations of lawsuits), and his wife even called the Provost of my university demanding action. I was investigated for a completely innocuous post, and of course the University found me innocent of any slander or libel. But the guy clearly has a mean and bullying streak, and in the case of that pseudonymous writer, it came out big time. That was uncalled for, and it was an attempt to bully and injure someone simply because he was peeved. Not only that, but he used the name of his journal, “Nature” in his Twitter feed, saying something like “Nature is shaking in its boots.” That got his journal entangled with his personal animus.

        It is my opinion that Gee has outlived his usefulness to both the journal and the scientific community, and Nature should really let him go. And now I expect more harassment just because of this comment!

        • Marta
          Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          I’m really quite flabbergasted that Gee’s animus extended that far, to pursuit well beyond the orignal WEIT posts.

          It’s inarguable that he’s becoming a liability for Nature.

        • mattpenfold
          Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          I run across Gee before. He thinks belief without evidence is a virtue.

      • Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink


        Looks to me that Gee is only one of more than 30 editors there on Nature; doesn’t really look to be cricket to suggest that the entire journal should be penalized for the “sins” of a relatively minor one.

  5. Grania Spingies
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I want the mole-rat one on a t-shirt!

  6. Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    One could spin NS headlines based on recent postings here. Hmmm…

    ‘Can insects be kinky? Ants, bees and wasps use the same signals for sex’

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I like the cancerous cells are caused by cancerous cells one!

    • Posted January 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      I like the I like the cancerous cells are caused by cancerous cells one reply.


  8. mattpenfold
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Highfield is no longer the editor of New Scientist. He was replaced by Sumit Paul-Choudhury in 2011.

  9. moarscienceplz
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    “Time to throw the outmoded paradigm of Mendel out the window.”

    Yep. And Einstein decided to leave out a cosmological constant, which we now think might be correct after all, so therefore we should burn all copies of the Theory of Relativity.

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      “3D printing. What Einstein didn’t know.”

      Einstein would have corrected them. It’s really 4D printing.

  10. Kevin
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    “Why Einstein will never be wrong”

    And he never will be, if one understands science.

    • Derek
      Posted January 22, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      That’s an elegant article, Kevin; and the comments on it are all over the map.

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