I dont blame you for being angry. I attacked your profession, your profession is an extension of you, thus you took my comments personally, and completely missed what the hell I was talking about.
1– I dont know whether she had a bad experience with ‘The Wichita Beacon Journal’*…
Someone who lives in Santa Fe, a hotbed of pseudoscientific wooshit, is not *exactly* in a position to be making fun of ‘Wichita’ for being backwards. Someone who is trying to establish that *he* is the better communicator probably shouldnt talk down to an entire segment of the country either.
But on this topic, no, I have had no personal bad experiences with local journalists. I have a problem with basically all journalists. Which I thought I firmly established when talking with Ed– Every week I get emails from readers wanting to know about articles they read in newspapers or GoogleNews or whatever: ‘WE CURE DEH AIDZ!’ ‘AIDS BE GON IN 5 YERS!’ ‘VACCINE FOR DEH AIDS!’ ‘AIDS BE GONE IN 2 YERS!’ ‘NO MORE AIDZ IN 3 YEARS!’ ‘ANY DAY NAU: NO MORE HIV!’
Do you realize what this means to people, George? How much a preventative HIV vaccine or cheaper/better/easier medications for HIV/AIDS means to people? How fucking scary HIV is to people? What these kinds of messages (WE CURE AIDZ NAU! LOL NOT REALLY!) do to the general public? What it does to their trust of scientific research in this country?
And who is held accountable for this endless stream of scientific
Scientists. We are the ones that have to deal with the frustration, disappointment, and distrust of the general public when those ‘cures’ and ‘vaccines’ never pan out.
idiots scientific journalists that wrote the misleading articles.
*I* live with the consequences of this
bullshit journalism, not you.
2– (she thinks) the purpose of a science journalist is to be a scribe…
The general public is paying for scientific research. It is their right to know what their money is going towards. Thus I think the purpose of a science journalist is to accurately report new scientific findings to the public in a way that is accessible, yet still accurate.
But the general public doesnt get that, do they?
To quote Steven Novella:
This state of affairs has lead to its own category of cliches – the headline cliche. We just have to accept the fact that every new fossil is a “missing link,” every new discovery is a “breakthrough,” the smallest of minority opinions will render any issue a “controversy,” and even the slightest uncertainty means that scientists are “baffled.”
Who benefits from this kind of reporting?
3– … scientists like science to be misrepresented for money… their message is self-serving…
You should have read beyond Page 1, George.
But let me dump a big bucket of ice cold realism on the press release that spawned those ‘science journalism’ articles: This research is completely impractical in The Real World, and it sure as hell doesnt “Put Personalized HIV Therapy Within Reach”. Giving the general public that impression is deceptive and mean.
Again, I want to make it clear that I dont see anything ‘wrong’ with this paper. Its made up of good science and good ideas. My problem is the way its been ‘framed’ (as usual), so lets just look at the paper and its implications without spin.
The actual science behind those bullshit ‘science articles’ stood on its own. It was sound research with fantastic results. The authors of that paper dont need to mislead the public or ‘advertise’ to get more money to do more research– they will be fine.
So who benefited from those sensationalist articles?
4– … science journalists have more context than you do, stuck in your rat-hole of a laboratory…
This is helpful? This is a helpful comment? Is this what you think of scientists, George?
Ignoring the fact I work on the top floor of a beautiful building with a beautiful view– I have had no personal issues with ‘science journalists’, but my boss has. The journalist wrote that my boss was going to get rid of HIV/AIDS in two years (this was more than two years ago). My boss will never speak to a journalist again.
My boss helped set up an HIV/AIDS research clinic in Africa a long while back. He knows about the cultural history of Africans dealing with white researchers, how hard it is to win their trust, how hard it is to keep people coming back to the clinics, how hard it is to get mothers in labor to take their goddamned antiretrovirals, how hard it is to do life-saving research in countries when you can never count on electricity… And my boss has been heavily involved in a nation-wide science education program, using HIV-1 to teach people about evolution.
Do you think he had more ‘context’ than the
twat science journalist that interviewed him? Has he left the ‘rat hole’ enough for you?
5– … Shes bragging about the fact she cant write…
I cant write. But I still have a relatively successful science blog.
I dont want scientists to be intimidated by blogging because ‘they cant write’. You dont have to be a professional writer to talk about your research with the general public. I thought I made it clear that I highly respect blaggers who have the ability to write well and talk about their favorite science topics (I mentioned Ed and Orac), but I do not want scientists to think they have to write well to interact with the public directly via blag.
6– [reads eight lines of this epigenetics post]
Thats what epigenetics is, George. Sorry. If you had clicked over to Sandwalk, you would know that defining epigentics is ‘an issue‘:
But there is one thing that’s worth noting. Eva Jablonka has done what few of her fellow epigeneticists have attempted. She defines what she means by epigenetics!
The point was to contrast my sterile, frank definition of epigenetics to Jablonkas paradigm-shifting nonsense to illustrate the fact that even scientists can look like idiots overstating their work (sans science journalist). Not to teach everyone about epigenetics. I thought that was clear, but if you were hunting around my blog for ‘evidence’ I cant communicate science, well that quote-mine was as good as any. Good job.
*shrug* Look, George, like I said, I dont blame you for taking my comments personally. But at this point, to me, you are just part of the problem. Blaming scientists for the inadequacy of your own field rather than listening to criticism and improving your profession.
Just to be clear, though, other than the fact I am constantly undoing the damage science journalists do, I dont really care what ultimately becomes of professional science journalism. Stay the same, for all I care. Cause scientists can be citizen journalists now… we dont really need you.
* O/T– This reminds me of Christians who decide I must have had a bad experience with a Christian, and thats why Im an atheist. I cant have logical/strategical reasons for my position, it must be emotional. lol.