A Blog Around The Clock

Graham Lawton Was Wrong

There.

How’s the taste of your own medicine?

Yup, there was an editorial meeting. Coturnix, coturnix, @coturnix, BoraZ, Bora Zivkovic and @borazivkovic were there. I was there, too, and I could have said something, but I decided to remain silent as the traffic of this blog, which – cha-chink – means more money, is more important than accuracy.

Very few readers will read your article. But everyone will see the cover.

Very few people will read this post to the end, especially the links on the bottom that really contain the meat of the argument. But everyone will see this post title in their feeds.

Graham, you know print is swiftly dying and that journalism is moving to the Web, don’t you? Do you understand that this means that in a year or two you will have to come here and play with the Big Boys? Do you understand that all the silly comments you plastered all over the blogs will be remembered? And if not remembered, easy to find – this blog has bigger Google juice than The New Scientist, you know?

Do you understand that in your future transition to online journalism you will have to abandon all the lies you were taught in J-school? That you will need to upgrade your journalistic ethics in order to match the higher ethics of the blogosphere?

Why are you trying to start your career on a wrong foot?

Graham, and someone needs to tell you now before it’s too late, that you don’t know shit about science. And that you’ll have a steep hill to climb in order to start trying to play on the level field with people who actually know their stuff?

You just curmudgeoned yourself.

Is that a new term for you?

Congratulations! Your name will now be forever associated with the likes of (yes, study all those links carefully!) Skube, Mulshine, Johnson, Cohen, Boxer, Keen, Siegel, Henry and several other laughingstock curmudgeons from the journalistic Jurassic Park?

Now, calm down, I was just joking, just like you were in all those comments everywhere. Heh, some light-hearted blogospheric banter. Ha-ha. Can’t be mad about that, can you?

Now sit back and learn by reading, very carefully, what people with actual expertise have written (including people with expertise in the comments) and learn from your mistake as not to make it again:

Darwin Was Wrong?
Why’s Graham so Glum: Lawton Critiqued
Was Darwin Wrong?
Darwin was wrong…ish
Explaining New Scientist cover
New Scientist take the hype road
Darwin: The Genius of evolution
The Trouble With Science Journalism
Speaking of media mangling…
New Scientist take the hype road
It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever
Of trees of life and straw men

Got it?

Comments

  1. #1 Isis the Scientist
    January 26, 2009

    I herebby forever defer the blog-master Coturnix. Please don’t ever smack me down. It might make me cry.

  2. #2 John S. Wilkins
    January 26, 2009

    And I thought I was snarky. It might be time for a substantive post on the nature of media and science communication…

  3. #3 Henry
    January 26, 2009

    Ouch.Just for a minute I thought you meant me.

    Curmudgeon (tendence Jurassic) and proud of it.

  4. #4 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    No, the OTHER Henry ;-) The one I don’t get to hug every time I see him….

  5. #5 Henry
    January 26, 2009

    Well, I know that, Bora … but now our guilty secret’s out! Voulez-vous couchez avec moi? But seriously, the print media have been on the slide for years, and increasingly desperate for sales. The temptation for a largely newsstand-based publication such as NS to run with a sensationalist and disingenuous cover line like that must be enormous. I still haven’t read Lawton’s article: perhaps I should. But consider this – I never normally read NS at all, so perhaps all this extra free publicity will do them no harm. As Oscar said, the only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.

  6. #6 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Ah, true, unfortunately so true.

    I need to start posting GOOD publicity to publications that still do it right, like American Scientist and Seed Magazine. All the others have gone coo-coo over the years.

  7. #7 jc
    January 26, 2009

    actually, the coo-coo is really broke-broke. the whole RTFA defense of a bogus cover used to sell their fresh hot steaming bullshit is old.

  8. #8 Sam C
    January 26, 2009

    What a load of juvenile tosh! Why do Science Bloggers behave like 5 year olds on a sugar high whenever anything displeases them? You all run around screaming about how clever you all are.

    Fact: New Scientist is a British publication. Fact: it does more to convey science to the interested public than this oftentimes pathetic mutual admiration society. Fact: this cover got attention, which was presumably the aim of the controversial approach. Fact: in the UK, we don’t suffer from loony creationists to any significant extent, we certainly don’t have your psychotic right-wingers in any abundance. It is not the UK’s job to save the US from its own crazies.

    If the article hadn’t been in a language that you think you can understand, would it have caused so much grief? One thing the ranters here don’t understand is that British English doesn’t always work like American English. We are nowhere near as literally minded on things like this; listen to Bill Bryson as he tells you how he got into a mess using jokes that are acceptable in the UK but completely misunderstood in the US (and no, I’m not talking racism, sexism, etc.).

    So, misguided cover? Possibly; and I didn’t like it. Damaging? Not to the potential readership in the UK, only to the screaming ninnies of the USA. Who generally haven’t bought or read it.

    Do what your new president suggested, and grow up Americans!

    A smack-down? Huh, a pathetic squeal from a nobody. The future is the web? Well, may be, but not the dribbling hysterics of this witch-hunt against a decent journalist.

    Shame on you all. Enough of this yah-boo kindergarten “science”.

  9. #9 Mag
    January 26, 2009

    Well, Sam C,
    Speaking of decent journalism, I really think the text to the article does not help either, and you cannot blame just a “misunderstanding” of how clever the title was, really, in UK english. The whole text was sensationalist too, and the feeling from the whole of it is that there are poor scientists that have recognized the reality of LGT versus a scientific community that sticks together to build misleading and useless trees (yes, there is like one phrase saying they are useful sometimes, but the whole rest of the paper is bashing). Can you spell “manufacturing a controversy” ?
    Well, I work do in the field, and most scientists I know (I have not asked every single one of them for their mind on the subject) do accept LGT, do not persecute scientists working on them, and nonetheless think that trees (that are always gene trees, we know that, so what ?) are useful to understand the pattern of life. Including for detecting LGT.

  10. #10 Luna_the_cat
    January 26, 2009

    Sam C — I live in the UK as well, and was just as disgusted as everyone else here; when NS stoops to this and things like the Emdrive, they serve no-one. And I’ve run into far too many creationists here; if you claim they don’t exist then you are basically unaware of your surroundings. But the last thing I want is to see them gain the kind of public support as they have in the US, and bs NS covers like that only feed them.

    Not to mention the fact that, yes, Lawton spent a lot of time in the article itself scientist-bashing and misrepresenting what has actually happened in the field over the last, say, 50 years or so, so even the text of the article is misleading. If he is a “decent journalist”, I’m King Louis XIVth of France.

    And if your little name-calling rant was meant as a defense…it failed. Utterly.

  11. #11 JanieBelle
    January 26, 2009

    Hi Sammy!

    Does your butt sting?

    It should.

    Very well done, Dr. Bora. Kisses for you.

  12. #12 Karen
    January 26, 2009

    So much for dispassionate, rationality.

    Yes, the article was sensationalist…I agree. I would have like to have seen you actually address it’s exaggerations and distortions, instead you just indulged in a lot of exaggerations and distortions of your own.

    These kinds of demonstrations of bad form just supply more fodder for the absurd positions of creations, like Uncommon Decent. They already descended on this.

    Wouldn’t it be best to counter Lawton’s assertions with valid counter points? For example, why not site the fact that just because HGT occurs in some one cell forms, it doesn’t imply that germ line decent is invalid…

  13. #13 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Do the homework. Follow the links.

    That quote of Graham’s I linked to shows that he suffers from (typically British) genocentrism. Oh, how the Brits loves them some Dawkinsian essentialist genes-eye view. Thus, if gene-trees criss-cross, they think that taxa criss-cross, too. How naive. How wrong.

  14. #15 Blake Stacey
    January 26, 2009

    As I tried to explain when Graham Lawton showed up at my blog, I just don’t get it. I really don’t! Following a sensationalist agenda alienates those very scientists who more than any others have a proven track record of wanting to popularize science. Bloggers are falling over each other to explain new developments and bring them into the context of old ones — and you want all of them to loathe you? Where are your reporters going to go when next they need an interview? I bet it won’t be to somebody who has no Internet connection. . . . When the phone call or the e-mail comes in saying, “I’m writing a story for New Scientist and would like a moment of your time”, what do you want the response to be?

  15. #16 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    I just got an e-mail from Graham Lawton:

    “Dear Bora,

    I’ve decided to write you a personal note to add to the links I just put on your blog, politely pointing out an error of fact that you have made in your most recent post. It would (apparently) be churlish of me to point it out in a comment on your blog.

    I’m not starting my career out. You can probably find out some information about my career in science journalism on the web, if you have a quick look. My byline on the Tree of Life article is fairly informative too.

    In peace, I’m curious to know what you think of the scientific papers I posted..

    What are you doing you PhD in btw? Just so I know where you’re coming from scientfically.

    I notice that you moderate the comments on your blog, which is unusual and perhaps a little against the spirit of the medium. I hope you let mine appear.

    BTW, if you decide to post this email on your blog, please post all of it.”

    I responded:

    “I do not moderate comments. If there are 2+ links, the spam catcher holds them until I notice and rescue them.

    You ARE starting a new career – online journalist, very soon, as soon as print dies. It is a very new world, a very new environment, a very new method, and much stricter ethics. Thus, for all purposes, this is a start of a new career for you. You will have to unlearn everything you know and start learning the new ways. It can be painful.

    You can learn more about me if you Google me. Or check the About Me section.

    Posted as a comment on my blog as well – sunshine is the best disinfectant. Blogging is about openness. Scurrying in the dark and using private channels is not a good idea. Just shows you still don’t get it. Read the link in the post for information of why you are doing it wrong. Read the entire archives of Jay Rosen’s blog as well. That’s a beginning of your survival kit for your future profession.

  16. #17 Blake Stacey
    January 26, 2009

    Perusing the links provided a few comments upthread, I’m seeing a great deal of writing to the effect that the Tree of Life has many thick and twisting roots, but little to indicate that it is a completely useless metaphor. Wrongness, to paraphrase Asimov, is relative: a model of a perfectly spherical Earth is less wrong than the model of a completely flat one, even though the Earth is an oblate spheroid afflicted with irregularities.

    And how do we go from “this metaphor is incomplete” to “Darwin was wrong”? Darwin didn’t know how life began. (To nick the later edition of the “tangled bank” passage, was life first breathed into several forms or into one?) He, and the scientific community of his day, knew only a smidgen about micro-organisms in general (Robert Koch didn’t start publishing his major work until 1876). All other matters aside, this sorry affair is the latest chapter in the attribution of all evolutionary science to St. Darwin the Inspired. Regrettable.

  17. #18 Graham Lawton
    January 26, 2009

    blake, you’re not going to get the full picture with a 5 minute peruse. There’s a lot of information in those papers. If you don’t have time to read them, maybe you should re-read my article in New Scientist. It’s called “Uprooting darwin’s tree” (though the online version had a different headline). Caused a bit of a kerfuffle because some bloggers jumped to conclusions about it (and me) based on the cover of the magazine in which it appeared. Judged the book by its cover, literally.

  18. #19 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Graham. Other bloggers have already explained why the science in your article is wrong. Criss-crossing gene-trees DOES NOT equal criss-crossing taxa trees, except in the minds of extreme genocentrists.

    The RTFA excuse is pathetic. You did not read the links in my post because you disliked the title, is that correct? That was the point of this excercise. Many people are disinclined to read your article BECAUSE of the way it was portrayed on the front cover – sensationalist and wrong. Why waste one’s time on that article if the cover suggests somethings silly?

    You are one of the editors. You sat in the meeting. You thought the sensationalist cover is OK. Now you reap what you planted. I don’t need to read all those articles – I teach that stuff.

    But you need to read the links to posts about other journalistic curmudgeons to see where your journalism went wrong.

    Graham Lawton, you curmudgeoned yourself. That is our problem with us. You actually believe what j-school profs taught you and thus think that what you and NS did is ethical. It is not, it is wrong, and when you get called on it, you respond by showing complete lack of understanding that your “journalistic ethics” are unethical.

    Then you come here talking DOWN to us, for great comedic effect.

    Learn not to tease Mike Tyson, then cry afterwards when you realize it hurts.

  19. #20 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Another e-mail from Graham:

    “Thanks Bora, that is a much more reasonable message. I chose to email you personally because when I comment I just get flamed by people who have already made their minds up about me.

    I think you owe it to me to read these papers, given what you’ve said about me and my journalism.

    If you find yourself disagreeing with them, maybe you should take it up with the scientists who wrote them, the reviewers who reviewed them and the journals that published them. Maybe you could tell them that they know “s**t about science”

    BTW, I find your comments about ethics ironic given that you write things directly to me like “you know s**t about science” and “show some humility when talking to your elders, OK”. Is that the new ethics of journalism? I hope not.

    Go on, stick this on your blog, I know you want to.”

    I replied:

    “I will. Either you’ll learn from this experience, or you’ll fall by the wayside.”

  20. #21 Graham Lawton
    January 26, 2009

    and here’s nice Bora, in his (surprisingly reasonable) reply to my personal email. According to this he IS going to read the papers, even though the RTFA excuse is pathetic.

    _____________________

    I shall try to find time to read them. But you really should read what I linked to in my post first. My post is not about science, except tangentially, as I let my colleagues who actually work on microbial systematics, species problem and evolution handle the science. My post is about bad journalistic practices and about the need for journalists to rethink what they are doing and upgrade so-called ‘journalistic ethics’ to match that of the real world inhabited by real people – the blogosphere.

    Thanks
    Bora

    Perhaps you can come to ScienceOnline next year to see where the world of science communication is today. You’ll be welcome.

  21. #22 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Yes, I will read them. But you read all the links in this post first!

  22. #23 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    A tweet by Jay Rosen:

    “Today when a pro journalist curmudgeons himself, there’s an alert system in place and people know what to do. http://is.gd/hfXj

  23. #24 Graham Lawton
    January 26, 2009

    I don’t need to – I read the papers (and more), which I find to be a much more reliable guide to what is actually going on in science.

  24. #25 Blake Stacey
    January 26, 2009

    blake, you’re not going to get the full picture with a 5 minute peruse. There’s a lot of information in those papers.

    Actually, it turns out that I’d already read several of them, as I’d somewhat expected, as I work in “complex systems” and am therefore obligated to keep my toes wet in several ongoing kerfuffles.

  25. #26 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Are you really THAT arrogant?

    The links are about what you are doing wrong as a journalist and a person, which will be really bad for your career very soon, not about the wrong science in this one article of yours.

    This is NOT about science, it is about you being a self-inflated egotist journalistic curmudgeon, and what you can do to fix yourself before it’s too late.

    You can start by going around all the blogs you came to sneering, and start crying, issuing apologies and mea culpas. That would be a good start.

  26. #27 Comrade PhysioProf
    January 26, 2009

    Holy fucknoly! I’ve never seen you so pissed, dude! Can you give a several sentence summary of what this Lawton character did that’s got you so angry?

  27. #28 Tulse
    January 26, 2009

    I have been astounded at Graham Lawton’s approach. He could have taken the opportunity to engage honestly and openly in a potentially useful dialogue about the science of the issue, the nature of science journalism, the economic realities of publishing a popular science magazine, the approach to editorial control. But instead he writes pompous, arrogant posts on seemingly any blog that has mentioned the article, insulting the blogosphere (including many who are practicing scientists in the area), casually waving away concerns about sensationalism, bias, and journalistic responsibility.

    My impression of New Scientist has been deeply impacted by this incident. I will not be subscribing.

    And Graham, it’s a whole new world on the Internet — you need to grow a thicker skin, and be willing to treat bloggers as at least potentially worthy of serious consideration, or you won’t survive.

  28. #29 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    1) Wrote a sensationalist article which is wrong (confuses several things, and is based on extreme genocentrism).

    2) set in the editorial meeting and approved a cover page that is sensationalist and wrong and Creationists are already using it as their PR.

    3) when evolutionary biologists criticized this on their blogs he came in posting disparaging comments about dirty hippy bloggers. With predictable results.

    4) Then he cried when we gave him his head on a platter.

    5) See samples of his stupid comments here.

  29. #30 Graham Lawton
    January 26, 2009

    yet again Bora you tell a blatant barefaced lie about me. I have not called anyone a “dirty hippy blogger”. Is this the much vaunted ethics of the new journalism? It’s cheap and vile. In proper journalism you could get sued for libel for saying that. You disgust me.

    I am stopping attempting to engage with you on a reasonable level. RTFA.

  30. #31 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    If you have read the links, you would know that “dirty hippy bloggers” is a term in recent media studies, used to denote how MSM curmudgeon journalists (that is also a term) refer to bloggers, regardless of what actual words any one of them choses to use at any given time.

    You have not done your homework yet.

    FAIL

  31. #32 Comrade PhysioProf
    January 26, 2009

    extreme genocentrism

    He believes that the universe revolves around his nutsack?

  32. #33 Tulse
    January 26, 2009

    Boy, Lawton can’t even distinguish a direct quote from a paraphrase — what kind of journalist is he?

    And, for the record, here is at least one comment Graham made about bloggers:

    I really ought to make a sarcastic comment here about “really bad” bloggers, but that would be an oxymoron. (Only kidding – it’s soooo much fun being rude to people on the internet, isn’t it, and so much easier than being rude to them in person!)

    (And, as Aaron Golas notes, Lawton even gets the insult wrong, confusing “oxymoron” for “redundant”. This guy writes for a living?)

  33. #34 Despard
    January 26, 2009

    My impression of New Scientist has been deeply impacted by this incident. I will not be subscribing.

    Mine too. There’s no way I can stop subscribing to New Scientist because my institution has a subscription, but I can certainly choose not to read it. I was willing to give the whole cover story furore a pass because I assumed that it was just there to whip up interest in the topic, even if it did allow some creationists to use it for propaganda purposes. I was ambivalent, but NS is generally a good magazine.

    But now I find that much of the science in the article is wrong? It’s not my field, though I am interested in evolutionary biology; I am a behavioural psychologist/neuroscientist. If the science is wrong then that’s one problem.

    The bigger problem is Graham Lawton’s attitude that I wasn’t aware of before I read this post and that I am now all too well aware of. Graham, you need to stop for a second and think about what people are trying to tell you. Look past the abruptness that’s part and parcel of online life and find the message: read the links, and see why people think you’re wrong. If you still don’t believe you are, come back and argue your case. Otherwise, think about changing your attitude.

  34. #35 Blake Stacey
    January 26, 2009

    Coturnix:

    Are you really THAT arrogant?

    Why, yes, why’d you ask?

    The links are about what you are doing wrong as a journalist and a person,

    Oh, whoops — my mistake — carry on then.

  35. #36 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    Sorry, Blake, you snuck your comment in-between – it was not addressed to you.

  36. #37 Onkel Bob
    January 26, 2009

    It is interesting to see exchanges such as this one. The frau is in the middle of a debate over the role of a particular gene. That particular has a great number of scientists investigating it. Unfortunately her data show that the gene is regulated upstream, which is in conflict with the accepted model. However, instead of investigating what she found, critics spend time defending what they believe.
    Science is a human endeavor. It is subject to the same pettiness and territorial conflicts that all other human activities bring. We like to believe were “above all that” but it isn’t true.

  37. #38 jc
    January 26, 2009

    despard, you can ask your library what steps need to be done to remove a journal from subscription. during my PhD, a nutcase published a creationist piece of shit in a journal that my department specifically asked to have in the library. so the way you get libraries to buy the journal is the dept chair talks to the library about getting the subscription -or- like we did, you get signatures of fac, staff, and students to show there’s a great need for the dept to have the journal.
    When we wanted the shitty journal removed because of it’s creationist crap, we got signatures and took it to the head library guy and poof, subscription canceled. give it a try!

    Bora, is it too early to give out the teddy for 2009?

  38. #39 Coturnix
    January 26, 2009

    At the rate they are going, we can have a Teddy of the Month Award, or even Teddy of the Week ;-)

    Which reminds me – compare Dr.Janszky’s response to Graham’s? See the difference? The former has confidence and smarts and used the opportunity to learn. The latter….meh.

  39. #40 ildi
    January 26, 2009

    “the Earth is an oblate spheroid afflicted with irregularities”

    Magellan Was Wrong!

  40. #41 Barn Owl
    January 26, 2009

    My father is a research biochemist, and when he retired several years ago, I got him a subscription to New Scientist. Perhaps no gift I’ve ever given him has brought him as much enjoyment; he reads every issue cover-to-cover. My teenage nephew reads every issue, after my father has finished with it (sometimes before, and then there’s a squabble). My father is pretty internet savvy, especially for a septuagenarian (thanks in large part to my sister and her husband, both programmers and IT geeks), but I think he still likes the print format. He doesn’t have a laptop, and likes to read the New Scientist out on the porch or at poolside. My nephew does have a lsptop, and reads most things online, but nevertheless he seems to like New Scientist in print format.

    I still read most things in print format; I like having cooking magazines on which I might spill ingredients in the kitchen, magazines and print instructions that I can slip into my knitting bag, and birdwatching magazines that I can read in my truck while I’m waiting for the farrier or vet out at the ranch. None of us is stupid or uneducated or religiotarded (in spite of what some turdlet who dribbles over from another blog to screech “Concern noted, troll” might believe): we just happen to prefer print media under some circumstances. Yes, I realize print media are in decline, but not everyone should feel compelled to jettison it completely.

    Not everyone wants to obtain scientific information from blogs, either, whether outside or inside one’s area of expertise. Some people, for example my father, don’t want to wade through loads of peripheral, non-science crap to get to the few science posts on a blog. Not interested in LOLcats, YouTube links, recipes, pictures of shoes, discussions of how fecking brilliant and precocious your kids are, amateur political analyses, yet another rant about the ridiculous things the faithful believe (ORLY? I hadn’t figured it out for myself), etc., etc. Personally, I like the random, diverse, scrapbook-y nature of most blogs, but some people don’t. Any surprise that such individuals prefer reading New Scientist?

  41. #42 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2009

    Mr Lawton’s difficulty seems to be he can’t understand that bloggers can be scientists or scientists can be bloggers. Another thing that seems to be beyond him is that scientists are often teachers whose job it is to convey information to their students. Teachers understand that this is not easy and sometimes they need to reconvey information because they did it poorly the first time. Rather than giving scientists journal articles that most of have read, maybe he should read Darwin to find out what is actually in the “Origin”.

  42. #43 Blake Stacey
    January 27, 2009

    Barn Owl:

    Personally, I’ll take a LOLcat or a YouTube video which is clearly marked as silliness or frivolity over a sensationalized article which is meant to appear serious but is just wrong. What good is a uniform presentation in a glossy, conveniently portable format when the information being presented might be distorted beyond all use? I count it as an advantage of the blogging medium that we can just relax, that a blogger can hold a readership over a slow news week without tarting up the science. This is, of course, just my personal preference, and I will not pretend that a mild advantage of this sort makes the blogging experience all sweetness and light.

    Be it noted that I, too, enjoy print-format material. My books are crowding me out of my home (and I’m only making the situation worse by my own actions).

  43. #44 Inoculated Mind
    January 27, 2009

    Graham Lawton, you need to learn the first lesson of the internet:

    The Internet Never Forgets.

  44. #45 DuWayne
    January 28, 2009

    Graham Lawton –

    You seem to have a very bad attitude about blogs and an overinflated notion of your impact as a print journalist. Let me talk a little about the impact of blogs and science blogs in particular, on my own life.

    I’m a thirty two year old high school dropout. Not because I’m stupid, but because I have a whole host of problems that brought me to this point in my life. I’m actually a rather bright fellow, with a wide range of interests that I tend to be rather well informed about. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, while trying to get back to school; I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

    A few years ago I discovered the blogosphere. Not terribly long after that, I discovered science bloggers. Joy of joys, I discovered that I could not only learn something, I could get involved in the conversation. And nobody cared about my educational background. As long as I was basing my own assertions on evidence, I was accepted as a valuable contributor to the conversation. Even better, I suddenly had some access to people with relevant background in fields that really interest me (even Bora here, was kind enough to answer some of my questions way back).

    I had questions about genetics, a Phd geneticist was happy to take the time to answer. I had questions about drug interactions, a professor of pharmacology could help. I had questions about the workings of the human brain, there’s a neurologist positively thrilled I was interested. I wanted to discuss addiction, there’s an NIH funded addiction researcher glad I provided the insights of someone with substance abuse issues.

    And now I’m in school and I have a direction. I’m in a position to incorporate several fields of interest, into a degree that will place me into a position to have a positive impact on my community and society. And I have the support and validation of a host of academics, some of whom are as excited as I am that I’ve begun this journey. People who have emailed me, to make sure that I know that they are a resource I have at my disposal. The same people who fostered discussions that helped me find my direction, also feel some compulsion to help me succeed.

    What I have gotten out of a few years in the blogosphere and have every reason to expect I will continue to get, is something that just doesn’t exist with print journalism. Not to say that it doesn’t have it’s place, but ours is a brave new world that values discussion over dictation, interaction over awe for the author’s grasp of a concept. And above all, truth over sensationalism. Which is not to say that sensationalism doesn’t have it’s place, we’re all human after all. But when the sensational takes precedence over honesty, folks will crawl out of the woodwork with the truth of things.

    And it is more than truth, it’s perception of truth. Your cover story chose the sensational over a reasonable perception of the truth. In a time when science has been under heavy fire from the forces of ignorance and darkness (and while the UK is doing better than my own nation, the difference is one of degree, not the problem itself), you just provided them with more fodder to attack reason.

    And lest you find yourself pretending the internet forgets, just google society of homeopathy, or truth homeopathic. The latter won’t get you as many critical hits as the former, but there I am at number two, for a post I wrote fifteen months ago. Google the former and you will discover why the UK’s Society of Homeopathy probably regrets using a bullshit lawsuit threat, to silence criticism of homeopathy. Here’s a hint; if you try to google them to find there site, you have to get through a couple pages of pieces on them, most of which post the article that offended them to the point of lawsuit.

    For some reason (certainly not traffic) my writing tends to hit high on a lot of google searches. Because I’m a rather crotchety young man, and because you’ve pissed me off, I am going to post this comment on my blog.

  45. #46 DuWayne
    January 28, 2009

    And I have posted it here.

  46. #47 Cheshire
    January 28, 2009

    Graham…wait.

    Didn’t you say that nobody reads blogs?

    Yet here you are…

  47. #49 BAllanJ
    January 30, 2009

    Well, his google rep is gone now. If he ever calls a scientist for an interview, and that scientist has even a small amount of google foo, then his chances of getting the interview just dropped immensely. I don’t think he gets that. The prospective interviewee is going to read all this stuff.
    But people who just like to sensationalize stuff are going to be filling his email box asking him to write a story about their favourite piece of woo. Maybe that’s his goal?

  48. #50 Anne
    January 30, 2009

    Hi Coturnix – BBC is coming out with a special on Sunday related to this issue. It’s bound to be just as controversial, I think: host David Attenburough calls the effects of Genesis “devastating” for the natural world. I have referenced this post of yours in a new post about it on my own (new) blog, “100 Days of Science.” I’d be honored if you’d check it out: http://anneminard.com/2009/01/30/day-7b-genesis-has-produced-devastation/

  49. #51 irony spotter
    March 12, 2009

    the most amusing thing on this whole page is the comment from coturnix about blogging demonstrating a higher ethical standard than journalism. i’m still smiling about that.

    of course it does :) which is why you can post any personally insulting message you like, throw any accusation you like and ‘snark’ all you like completely free of all the law that real journalism has to abide by. if it doesn’t it gets torn down…whereas bloggers just shrug, leave all the garbage up and go out for more M&Ms.

    you’re really amusing coturnix.

    btw – the 2nd most amusing thing you said was about this being the future of journalism. sorry but no. your little blog will always remain just what it is now (another box on speakers corner) while journalism will remain a commodity that serious people will be willing to pay for

  50. #52 Coturnix
    March 12, 2009

    Live curmudgeon! Months too late in commenting. Decades too old in mindset.

  51. #53 irony spotter
    March 12, 2009

    and far wealthier than you possibly? making a healthy living from ‘dead’ journalism?

    enjoy your 6p in google hits :)

    lmao

  52. #54 Coturnix
    March 12, 2009

    Unlike you, I am not likely to lose – permanently due to the death of the entire industry – my job. Enjoy your retirement. Oh, and since you will have plenty of free time, you may want to study this.

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