Category Archives: science journalism

A really, really bad idea about reviewing scientific papers for journals

The usual way a scientific paper gets published is this. First, it’s submitted to a journal by one author (usually the “senior author”), and the journal’s editor then sends it to an “associate (or corresponding) editor”. That editor then chooses two or three reviewers, preferably ones who are prompt, thorough, critical in a good way, and also have […]

Nature Ecology and Evolution begins publishing

This journal, one of the family of Nature spinoffs, has been in the works for a while, and I have great hopes for it. Headed by editor Patrick Goymer, who used to work for the Mother Nature, comes out with its first official issue next January, but has already published four online articles that you can […]

Readers’ comments on Nature’s accommodationist piece

On September 20, the prestigious science journal Nature published an article by Kathryn Pritchard, “Religion and science can have a true dialogue“, which I found not only lame, but inappropriate for a science journal (see my post here). Pritchard is identified as someone who “works with the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops’ […]

The End of the Mukherjee Affair: He “clarifies” in response to a critical letter

Let’s mercifully draw the curtain on L’Affaire Mukherjee, which started when a number of eminent scientists criticized Siddhartha Mukherjee’s May 2 New Yorker piece because it gave a completely distorted view of how genes are turned on and off to make bodies (see critiques here and here). I’ve been awaiting the New Yorker‘s and Mukherjee’s response […]

The Atlantic: Genes are overrated; science doesn’t progress towards truth. Me: Wrong on both counts

The Atlantic has a review of Siddhartha’s new book on genetics; the review is by Nathaniel Comfort, a professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, and carries the provocative title of “Genes are overrated.” I haven’t yet read Mukherjee’s book, so I won’t comment on its content except to say that the […]

Steve Pinker demolishes John Horgan’s view of war

As you may recall, Science Contrarian John Horgan’s notorious “admonition to skeptics” blog post at Scientific American criticized the entire skeptical community for its supposed failure to campaign against war. That “hard target”, said Horgan, should take precedence over our attempts to attack “soft targets” like homeopathy, global warming denialism, and opposition to vaccination and GMO foods.  But he also […]

Tw**t of the day: “Epigenetic poetry”

Antonio Regalado is the Senior Editor for Biomedicine at MIT Technology Review. Sadly, given his position he seems unable to distinguish between reality and well-written but incorrect descriptions of reality. “Epigenetic poetry” indeed. If you want lyrical science, first be sure it’s good science. UPDATE: In the comments, reader suggested that Regalado was being sarcastic here, and, if […]

More on Mukherjee

We’ll have two guest posts today, and the second comes from Greg Mayer, who’s been AWOL for a while (he’s now in Costa Rica). by Greg Mayer As WEIT readers know, Pulitzer Prize winning author and physician Siddharta Mukherjee has been in the news since he published an article in the New Yorker on “epigenetics”. Surprisingly […]

PLOS Biology weighs in on Mukherjee affair: “Writing for Story distorts and cripples explanatory prose”

At least one science writer, Tabitha M. Powledge, has called out her journalistic confréres for their abysmal coverage of MukherjeeGate. In her piece at the PLOS Biology blog, “That Mukherjee piece on epigenetics in The New Yorker“, she has little patience for the “let’s leave out the truth in favor of a cute but dubious […]

Mukherjee takes confusing positions about epigenetics in Nature and in Forbes

Believe me, I really am tired of this affair and didn’t want to post more on Siddhartha Mukherjee and his New Yorker article, a piece that, to many scientists, distorted what we know about gene regulation (see here for background).  But I did note that I’d discuss press coverage of our disagreement, and we have some. Yesterday, two articles […]