In this week’s featured episode of Science Saturday from Bloggingheads, George Johnson and John Horgan returned with new insight on the controversy provoked by their last appearance, including some negative comments directed toward ScienceBlogger Abbie from ERV.
Johnson admitted that he may have been reacting to his cumulative perception of lower-end blogging, the existence of which Horgan explained by ‘The law of the conservation of bullshit’—no matter how much the information sphere expands, there’s still going to be the same proportion of bullshit circulating throughout it.
But compensatory kudos were given to those who Johnson considered quality science:
This is writing. These are people who, they’re not just sitting down and reflexively typing what flits across their brains as quickly as they can to get it out there and to get people reacting. They’re not trying to be purposely outrageous to get as many clicks and hits on their site as they can to get more fame or more pennies from Google ads. They’re actually sitting down, thinking about it, and crafting it into prose.
Regarding some coments made in the Dec 20 edition of Science Saturday that provoked an onslaught of defensive commentary from many of the ScienceBloggers, Horgan said the thing that bothered him about the discussion of scientists vs. journalists was that it perpetuated a model of science communication he does not agree with. He described this model as something that happen when “the scientists, who are discovering ‘the truth’ must convey this to the masses, but many can’t do that themselves so they rely on journalists to do that, but the assumption is that… journalists are the ones who hype and distort science communication,” he said. But Horgan disagrees with this assumption, pointing to the several scientists as the sources of misinformation.
“A lot of the big crappy science trends of the last century really have been perpetuated by scientists, not by journalists,” he said, listing string theory and multiverse theory as examples of science that has “gone off the deep end.”
“Science journalists are needed to protect us against some of these egregious claims made for science by scientists who are overly invested in a particular idea or theory,” Horgan said.
The two also discuss whether science journalism will survive in the digital age:
Finally, they wrap up the conversation by addressing this year’s Edge Question: What will change everything?
What do you think of this week’s Bloggingheads segment?