Category Archives: science writing

Science posts go unread. . .

I’ve kvetched before about how readers seem to ignore science posts, which started out as the heart of this website and are still dear to my own heart. In response, readers often say that they do read them but simply can’t comment because they don’t have the expertise. That’s fair enough and isn’t a problem for […]

SciBabe, paid by Splenda, touts its product

Yvette d’Entremont writes about popular science, especially consumer scams and misconceptions, on her website SciBabe. Her site’s bio notes that she has bachelor’s degrees in theater and chemistry from Emanuel College in Boston, a masters degree in forensic science with a concentration in biological criminalistics from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and worked eight years as […]

In which a predatory journal wants my paper

Every week or so I get an invitation to republish one of my papers about evolution and genetics in some wildly inappropriate journal. These are, of course, the predatory journals that glom onto nearly any scientist, however relevant their research, to get money (you have to pay to publish in them). Here’s an email that […]

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 […]

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 […]

The science books that inspired eight science writers (and me)

Yesterday’s Guardian has nice survey of eight science writers (many of them working scientists): “‘I was hooked for life’: Science writers on the books that inspired them.” They don’t make it clear that they’re really asking about popular books, as some of the books that “fired my imagination”, as the article notes, weren’t science trade […]

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 […]

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 […]

2017 Edge Question: “What scientific term or concept should be more widely known?”

UPDATE: I should have asked readers to answer the question for themselves, so I’m adding that here. Several people already have done that, and I encourage it. __________ Every year, science-book agent John Brockman, who handles the “trade books” of every well known science writers, as well as running the online intellectual “salon” Edge, asks his […]

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 […]