Category Archives: science journalism

Duhhh. . . . Guardian touts a “new” finding that thylacines are more closely related to kangaroos than to dingos

Below is the headline of a new science piece in the Guardian (click on screenshot to read it), reporting on a paper that was just published in Nature. I haven’t read that paper, so I won’t comment on it; rather, I’ll comment on the science writing, which in this case is abysmal. It’s sensationalistic, misleading, […]

The BBC gets evolution wrong again when describing a new discovery of early eutherian mammals

Well, after uncritically publishing a piece on the new “species” of orangutan (and not even seeking out any dissenting voices, unlike the BBC’s Discover Wildlife site), the BBC news site once again engages in a misleading piece of science reporting. The misguided piece has the headline below (click on screenshot to go there); I’ll get to […]

I’m the token dissenter on orangutans for the BBC

A woman at the Beeb contacted me this morning asking me about the description of the new “species” of orangutan from Sumatra. As I wrote at the link, calling this isolated population a new “species” is a purely subjective decision, as is separating the Bornean from the Sumatran orangutan (the new species, the Tapanuli orang, is […]

The Daily Beast distorts epigenetics with bogus claims that children can “inherit memories of the Holocaust”

I’ve written extensively on this site about recent claims that environmental modifications of DNA, through either methylation (sticking a -CH3 group onto DNA bases or by changing the histone scaffolding that supports the DNA, can constitute a basis for evolutionary change. This claim is simply wrong. To date, while we can show that environmental “shocks” given […]

BBC’s Today program honors 60 years of science reporting

Reader Dom called my attention to two BBC pieces on science that were broadcast yesterday, the 60th anniversary of The Today “programme”. The two bits have been concatenated into one 19-minute broadcast, which you can access by clicking on the screenshot below and then clicking the right arrow when you get to the BBC site: […]

Deceptive science reporting by Newsweek

Look at this tweet from Newsweek: Are you sitting down? NASA has found signs of life on a Saturnian moon https://t.co/06M6EwIDl3 pic.twitter.com/K4UcBtlILV — Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 7, 2017 Now read the damn article: it doesn’t say that they found ANY “signs of life” on the moon Enceladus, It is possible that life could evolve or […]

The birds of paradise, David Attenborough, and science education

Last night I was in the airport hotel in Auckland, and was excited to see, among the many dire offerings on my room television, a one-hour BBC show on the birds of paradise featuring the wonderful David Attenborough. The photography was fantastic (see clips below), and of course Attenborough, who first documented these birds on […]

Scientific American uncritically blurbs flawed study making students think science and religion are compatible

My big objection to science aggregation sites like Science Daily is that they don’t really do honest, critical reporting, but mostly parrot the bulletins issued by university public relations departments. The result is that readers get one-sided puffery of new results and no critical analysis. Science journalists often depend on such sources and, often lacking […]

CNN science completely botches natural selection in the headline, and is confusing in the text

I have little time to post this morning, but I call your attention to a really dreadful piece of science journalism at CNN. It refers to a new paper in PLoS Genetics by Arslan Zaidi et al. (reference below, free access) describing how natural selection based on climate (temperature and humidity) may have molded the nose shape […]

Where do you find the best science reporting?

Reader Peter called my attention to  two nice pieces on Real Clear Science and Infografic that evaluate popular-science reporting sites for both accessibility and quality.  Each outlet is scored on two axes: quality on the X-axis (evidence-based versus ideologically driven, i.e., is the reporting trustworthy?) and whether or not the content is sufficiently compelling and avoids […]