"Scientists say..." by Martin Robbins
Gibson’s Law - popular in American PR circles - states that for every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert. Ben Goldacre puts it a little differently in Bad Science, suggesting that there is almost no theory – however crackpot – for which you can’t find at least one supporting research paper. The broader point is this; when it comes to assessing the current state of scientific knowledge, individual experts and bits of research mean approximately jack shit. […]
Yet legions of science reporters are trying to do just that. Science stories are plagued with opaque references to ‘experts’ and ‘scientists’, who ‘say’ or ‘claim’ things. The most common of these crimes against meaning is perhaps the ubiquitousphrase'scientists say', a lazy clause as informative as "some people say…" or "I heard down the pub that…" […]
Stories like this achieve a number of things: they imply consensus where none exists, they fail to place research in context, they fetishize individual studies and people, and they provide audiences with an erratic and chaotic picture of scientific progress. […].
4:00 pm • 7 March 2012 • 84 notes
Links Roundup #1
IMPOSSIBLE FIGURES, GRIEF≠DEPRESSION, MATH+CHILDREN, REVERSE ENGINEERING, NUMBER HYGIENE, SPACEWALK & SPACE MUSIC.
When we admire the artwork of M.C. Escher, or we see some impossibile figure like the Pensore triange, how does the brain processe impossible objects?
"The DSM-5 Mood Disorders Work Group has proposed eliminating in DSM-5 the major depression criterion E, “bereavement exclusion” (BE), which recognizes that depressive symptoms are sometimes normal in recently bereaved individuals.”
The failing in recognizing the difference between a proportionate response to a devastating emotional event and a mental illness carry the risk to make a caricature of psychiatry. Psychiatrists must think better.
"Children as young as three to five years of age have the potential to learn mathematics that is surprisingly complex and sophisticated”, and, more impressive, infants by two months understand that unsupported objects will fall, and that hidden objects still exist and by five months of age they expect non-cohesive substances like water and sand to pour. This suggests that babies born with a basic understanding of how things in their environment operate.
Ray Kurzweil is convinced that ”[…] by 2020 we’ll have computers that are powerful enough to simulate the human brain […] By 2029 […] we will have completed the reverse engineering of the human brain.”
Mh. I’m not sure.
The Royal Statistical Society proposes 12 rules of “number hygiene” for journalists to at least achieve a basic understanding of numbers, statistics, graphs and so on (all of which are far too loved by journalists).
"An EVA is probably the most physically demanding task an astronaut can undertake."How astronauts learn to “spacewalk”.
The Sounds of Space.
"Musics in space is something very important for the moral of the crew and for the psychological support of the crew."
12:49 pm • 19 February 2012 • 69 notes
“If you don’t link to primary sources, you are dead to me […]”
[…] I do not trust you. There is a high risk that you chose not to link it, because you’re hiding something:
- that you didn’t read the primary source, and are reporting what it said second hand;
- that you’re misrepresenting the primary source, either because you didn’t read it or because you intend to deceive;
- in the case of newspaper articles copied and pasted from press releases, you’re hiding the fact that you plagiarised commercial promotional content.
by Ben Goldacre
1:07 pm • 11 June 2011 • 45 notes
Why the truth will out but doesn’t sink in
Research shows that even when news reports have been retracted, and we are aware of the retraction, our beliefs are largely based on the initial erroneous version of the story. This is particularly true when we are motivated to approve of the initial account. […]
8:03 am • 4 May 2011 • 26 notes
“[…] one thing irked me, and it’s something that I’ve seen a lot in similar posts […]. He writes, “Altshuler’s skeptical view of the paper was fairly widely shared by colleagues I discussed this with yesterday”, and “The buzz amongst the genomics community on Twitter was generally similarly negative” and “Some researchers I spoke to also had specific concerns about the methods”. I saw similar things in the wake of last year’s arsenic saga. They unsettled me then and I think I’ve just worked out why. The problem with these phrases is that they’re not particularly transparent. When professional journalists interview people for comments on a paper, they’re mean to state who said what. Quotes and viewpoints are attributed to specific people, or to the journalist themselves. That’s important because as a reader, I can find out more about who’s providing their opinion, and I know how many people share that opinion. But I can’t tell that from phrases like “some researchers I spoke to” or “the genomics community”. For all I know, every geneticist in the world slagged off the paper. Maybe a dozen of them did. Maybe just two didn’t like it. The point is that I don’t know how much weight to place upon the subsequent analysis. Of course, it’s completely understandable why this happens. Scientist bloggers are in a privileged position - they have scores of potential sources to consult, many of whom will work next door. Most of such conversations aren’t recorded, and many people won’t want to be quoted. So the blogger, reporting from memory, writes about what they remember while leaving out specific names. Still, I do think that we should perhaps aim to live up to better standards. I’m not even necessarily talking about journalistic standards (not expecting all bloggers to be journalists here), but about issues of transparency.”
"Some researchers I spoke to…" edyong’s posterous
This post have to do with two things I was writing yesterday: the "friend genes" and the transparency of the sources of statements on scientific blog.
10:04 am • 20 January 2011 • 4 notes
How the relationship between science and journalism is changing
“Scientific American has an excellent article on the sociology of communicating new discoveries and how the relationship between science and journalism has changed over the years.
It’s a remarkably comprehensive analysis that looks not only at science publication but how it relates to our regular patterns of social communication.
According to the author, online science pioneer Bora Zivkovic, this model is now being challenged by internet science writing where trust is gained through transparency – showing your working and background through links to original source – rather than having an institutional stamp of approval.” source
Key word: Transparency.
5:02 pm • 22 December 2010 • 12 notes