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Posts Tagged ‘reporting’

The Adventure of Links: Sept. 13, 2010

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science posts a weekly summary of interesting links. Since this is one of the posts I most look forward to reading, I thought I would start my own version.

Welcome to The Adventure of Links for Sept. 13 2010.

Health

The weaknesses of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check Program.

Doctors warn against homeopathic “vaccines” which may leave patients vulnerable to fatal diseases.

Yet another study which shows absolutely no association between thimerosal and autism.

Crap about electromagnetic hypersensitivity in the Winnipeg Free Press. Once again, they refuse to interview anyone who actually knows what they are talking about but instead opt for scare tactics to increase readership.

More alternative medicine propoganda from the Huffington Post.

Study suggests that when parents are more accepting of children’s sexual habits, it results in a reduction in teen pregnancy.

Astronomy

Large solar flare from September 8 caught in photos.

The ancient Greeks may have documented Halley’s comet back in 467 BC.

Special relativity could explain the origin of galactic magnetic fields.

Physics

“The Physics of Mud and Hair Gel”

The future of nuclear energy could rest on the use of Thorium for fuel. Thorium is theoretically more energy efficient and less likely to produce materials which could be used in weapons.

How breakfast cereal can help physicists explain the universe.

Australian scientists developing a real life tractor beam. It can only move tiny particles about a meter, but its a start.

Researchers at MIT announce they are creating self-repairing solar cells.

Stephen Hawking said some stuff in the past week which had nothing to do with god, but is much more important to our development as a species.

Fun/Funny

Playboy magazine for the blind.

Ways to reduce the amount of cow farts which contribute to global warming.

The first ever Klingon Opera. Yup, Klingon Opera.

Sony Playstation turns 15 this year. Let us celebrate all the wasted hours I’ve spent on mine.

Vancouver using a 3D image of a girl chasing a ball on the road to get drivers to slow down.

You thought we had put this one to rest, but no. “Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right”, the first annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism is being held in November. I don’t think I’ll go, but I might get myself a mug.

CNN Gets It Right With Article on Vaccines and Autism

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The state of science reporting and science journalism is pretty dismal. And in the past few years, there have been few better examples of this than the reporting on the Vaccine/Autism “debate”.

Vaccines DO NOT cause autism. This has been known in the scientific community for a long time, and I’ve blogged about it before. But every so often a story will come up in the news which gives equal representation to the scientists who know vaccines are safe, and the quacks and conspiracy theorists who believe they are evil.

But CNN actually impressed me yesterday. They reprinted an article which was originally posted on Parenting.com concerning the vaccine/autism debate.

The article gave a clear history of the issue, reviewed the scientific evidence and gave a sound conclusion: that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.

My only problem with the article is the title: “The End of the Autism/Vaccine Debate?” I’m not a big fan of that question mark. If you are going to do an article which debunks the whole “vaccines cause autism” notion, you may as well make that clear in the title. You will still garner lots of attention, and your position will be made clear from the get-go.

But thats me being nit-picky. The article is good, and the fact that it got reprinted on CNN is a step in the right direction. With cases of whooping cough on the rise in the United States and the proliferation of misinformation by the anti-vaccine movement, we need more articles like this to get public attention.

Leprechaun or Crackhead?

September 5, 2010 2 comments

If you have read this blog for awhile (or any other science based or skeptical blogs) you know that local news reporting is just awful. Particularly for anything science related.

And this pisses off us science-types to no end. And this news story demonstrates this point quite well.

(Warning: Get ready to laugh!)

I realize its supposed to be kind of a joke, but there are some people who take this crap seriously, and giving it air time on the local news just encourages this kind of stupid behaviour.

It sure is hilarious though isn’t it? My favourite part is the “Amateur Sketch” of the leprechaun.

Although we all have a good laugh, the fact that this kind of stuff makes the “news” is truly terrifying.

“Damned Fools Won’t Pay 10 Minutes Attention to Science and Technology…”

June 28, 2010 1 comment

So if you’ve read this blog, you know I am more than displeased at how Science is reported in the media, and how little credit is given to the work of scientists.

People find Science boring. And while I do sympathize sometimes, at other times I get pretty frustrated.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m a big Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek. I just started reading “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Its about a comet which strikes Earth and civilization needs to rebuild. Pretty cool.

Photo from Wikipedia

There is one part near the start of the story where a news reporter is speaking with an Astronomer. It sums up my feelings really well, so I thought I would share it with all of you:

“Yet the damned fools won’t pay ten minutes’ attention a day to science and technology. How many people know what they’re doing?

Where do these carpets come from? The clothes you’re wearing? What do carburetors do? Where do sesame seeds come from?

Do you know? Does one voter out of thirty? They won’t spend ten minutes a day thinking about the technology that keeps them alive. No wonder the research budget has been cut to nothing. We’ll pay for that. One day we’ll need something that could have been developed years before but wasn’t -“

And get ready for my next post, its gonna quite a rant…

Extra! Extra! Bad Science Writing!

June 10, 2010 Leave a comment

It seems I’m not the only one who thinks Science reporting has gone way downhill.

This week, the Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Otis Brawley, wrote to CNN expressing his concern over the quality of science writing.

Dr. Otis Brawley

He cites the problem of medical conferences increasingly becoming venues for medical companies to showcase their products. Investors are always looking to put money into a potential cure to who-knows-what, so these companies over-hype their product with scientific studies.

The findings of these studies are often overblown, and then get picked up by the media. We can all relate to these sensationalized headlines…

It seems almost every week there is a headline that reads: “Chocolate Cures Cancer, study finds”. So we gorge ourselves on chocolate, until the following weak when the headline reads: “Chocolate causes Cancer, study suggests”. Scary.

Brawley thinks that the recent economic downtown has led to the layoff of many experienced science reporters, to be replaced with fresh out of school interns who don’t know ass from elbow (I paraphrase).

Enthusiastic writers latch onto the overblown claims of medical companies and report upcoming cures for breast cancer, AIDS vaccines etc.

Although not technically wrong, these goals are well into the future and in many cases have only been observed in mice or other lab animals, which unfortunately do not often translate well to human physiology. These details are, of course, left out of the newspaper article.

So the public is getting misled and getting their hopes up about new cures and treatments to every ailment under the sun.

If such a prominent physician is starting to notice the horrendous scientific reporting that has been occurring, then it is certainly time for a change.

Luckily, thanks to technology, there is a hope. One of the greatest resources for scientific news and commentary is the Blogosphere. There are innumerable science blogs out there from those more credible than yours truly, who really care about their topic of expertise and would love nothing else than for you, the layman, to read their opinions and gain some more scientific knowledge for yourself. A few of my favourites are Science-Based Medicine, Bad Astronomy and NeuroLogica.

Its all out there, and its free with your internet access. Use it.