Category Archives: science journalism

Elegance in science and The New Yorker’s take on the field

The short New Yorker piece, by Patrick House, “What is elegance in science?“, bothers me, and for reasons I don’t quite understand. I’d appreciate it if readers could have a look (you can read it in 5 minutes) and weigh in below. What bothers me consciously about the piece is that is basically says nothing, […]

Well-known science publisher Springer retracts 64 papers after discovering fake peer reviews

As every professional academic knows, especially those at “research” universities like mine, publishing research papers is the currency of professional advancement. Teaching and “service” (i.e., being on university committees or editorial boards of journals) will be cursorily scanned when it’s time for tenure or promotion, but we all know that the number of papers in your “publications” […]

Adam Gopnik: Why we should quiz politicians about their views of evolution

In honor of Darwin Day, writer Adam Gopnik penned a piece at the Nov. 19 Daily Comment site at the New Yorker: “The evolution catechism.” It’s about why politicians should be asked what they think about evolution: that is, whether they accept it or not. Some writers have argued that that question should be off limits, for who cares if […]

“Unchanging bacteria” revisited: dreadful science reporting in The Washington Post

It’s a sad situation that the only newspaper in the U.S. that still has a full science section is the New York Times (it’s on Tuesday), and even much of that is devoted to “health”.  Other papers seem to act as “article aggregators,” with poorly-trained science journalists simply accepting a new finding at face value based […]

NPR says that science has a faith problem

Yep, it’s National Public Radio again, and again the cosmos & culture blog, where Marcelo Gleiser, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth, has taken it upon himself to tell us that a). science can go “too far”, and b). it does so when scientists cling to beliefs that are either largely refuted or a bit […]

Angier on giraffes

Substantive posts will be thin on the ground until the end of October, as I’m off to NYC on Thursday and to Bulgaria two days after I return to Chicago (next Monday).  What with the final version of the Albatross due Thursday, it’s lucky I can post anything. So go read Natalie Angier’s nice piece on […]

Flam on Bayes’s Theorem

Official Website Science Journalist™ Faye Flam, who gave us a nice guest post a while back about how to talk to reporters, has her first article up in today’s Science Times at the New York Times, “The odds, continually updated.” It’s about Bayes’s Theorem, a way to calculate probabilities if you have some prior information […]

A conference on hype in science

Last December, Ford Doolittle, a biochemist at Dalhousie University who has actually done a lot, organized a symposium called “Hype in science“, which I announced on at the time though it hadn’t yet taken place. Now Florian Maderspacher, the senior reviews editor for Current Biology,  has written a three-page summary of the conference for the journal, “Hype in […]

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 […]

The limits of science

This would make a great slide for Eric Hedin’s “Boundaries of science” class at Ball State University. Contributed by the artist, Pliny the in Between at Pictoral Theology (and with the Labels: Ball State, Creationism, limits of science [links go to related cartoons]):


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