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Category archives for Media

“I’m not a scientist, but…”

Jonathan Chait makes an interesting observation. Asked by reporters yesterday if he accepts the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, John Boehner demurred on the curious but increasingly familiar grounds that he is not a scientist. “Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change,” the House Speaker said.…

For shame, Discovery Channel

It’s shark week. I’m not going to watch a bit of it; I’m actually boycotting the Discovery Channel for the indefinite future. The reason: An appalling violation of media ethics and outright scientific dishonesty. They opened the week with a special “documentary” on Megalodon, the awesome 60 foot long shark that went extinct a few…

Jonah Lehrer: he’s baaaaack

Lehrer has landed a new book deal. This has sparked justifiable disgust: Maria Konnikova explains why. Lehrer is not the writer who simply made up a few Bob Dylan quotes and self-plagiarized (the way he’s portrayed in recent accounts of his latest book deal). He is the writer who got the science wrong, repeatedly, who…

The death of Aaron Swartz

Many of you already know that Aaron Swartz, an online activist, committed suicide earlier this week. I didn’t know much about him, but now I’ve learned two things. One, he was a victim of depression. I’ve never experienced this personally — at worst I can say I’ve been sad and stressed at time — but…

The stupidification of all media

I saw that Doonesbury made a joke of it, so I had to look it up. It’s true. Americans were surveyed to see which presidential candidate they thought would handle a UFO invasion best. The channel surveyed 1,114 Americans in late May to get their thoughts on all things alien in anticipation of the channel’s…

The NY Times is touting a computer simulation of Mycoplasma genitalium, the proud possesor of the simplest known genome. It’s a rather weird article because of the combination of hype, peculiar emphases, and cluelessness about what a simulation entails, and it bugged me. It is not a complete simulation — I don’t even know what…

And credulous newspapers are helping that quack. The latest case is a little girl in Ireland with a disfiguring and deadly rhabdomyosarcoma who is trying to raise money to get the useless and totally fraudulent Burzynski antineoplaston treatment … and this article makes the good point that newspapers are helping to defraud sick people. Both…

Death to Elsevier!

You already know my feelings about that exploitive science publisher, Elsevier; I’m not the only one, and there’s been a long, long history of anger over their publishing model — and it’s not just scientists, but scholars in other disciplines who have been peeved. Now a boycott has coalesced. If you publish, edit, or review…

The miseducation committee of the Indiana legislature recently approved a bill to allow the teaching of creationism in the schools, and now the Indianapolis newspaper approves, with the usual tepid and illegitimate arguments. Much would depend on how teachers handle the origins of life in a biology or science class. No, it doesn’t. A bill…

Or maybe it’s just guilty of bad journalism. Look at this story they ran: it’s about a creationist who claims that Arizona sandstones are proof of Noah’s flood. It’s a remarkable piece of crap. The creationist, Greg Morgan, is a nuclear safety engineer, not a geologist, and his argument consists entirely of pointing at some…