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← Every scientists-versus-journalists debate ever, in one diagram

Every scientists-versus-journalists debate ever, in one diagram - Comments

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 1 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Nailed it.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 01:11:43 UTC | #909388

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 2 by Neodarwinian

Quoting fringe nut jobs? Some of these people are not even on the fringes of science, they are just nut jobs. And the caveats are important!

Not everything interests me, even on this site, but I read what does interest me and not too many journalistic " tricks " are needed to get my attention. I certainly do not need something written to the lowest common denominator. Journalism like this is, possible, a major cause of scientific illiteracy.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 01:14:19 UTC | #909390

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 3 by SomersetJohn

Might I just remind you of the Adams Axiom.

"Nobody likes a smartarse."

Except another smartarse, of course:-)

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 01:44:39 UTC | #909397

Janus's Avatar Comment 4 by Janus

There are good journalists?

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 03:14:14 UTC | #909408

mmurray's Avatar Comment 5 by mmurray

Comment 4 by Janus :

There are good journalists?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Goldacre

Michael

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 04:05:32 UTC | #909417

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 6 by Premiseless

Comment 3 by SomersetJohn :

Might I just remind you of the Adams Axiom.

"Nobody likes a smartarse."

Except another smartarse, of course:-)

This is soooo theistic. "So you think my god doesn't exist? Smartarse!" Motive is off the radar. Sincere bringers of truth, as Hitchens well defined, "Will not be thanked for it."

On another moot point, it's coincidence I was pondering the empirical entropy of myself, just a few hours ago. What makes the world the way it is? Why does each individual seem predisposed to serve it as a reduction of all suspicions amidst all common goods? Why would so much inequality prevail if we were not somehow already deluded to replicating this 'theism' of our own ambitions? Why would Murdoch, with billions at his beck and call, asignate devious means to propagate witch hunt interest? Why stir up emotive bias by employing it? And then be ready to absorb the reprisals? Is it not a calculated speculative enterprise purely motivated by end product ego and more green paint for ones dark side? Ego has a very greenback! Has his organisation any fundamental motives founded upon the common good? Or has he judged there not to be one and it's who dares wins - like I said - repainting a very old and tragic canvas with yet another layer of highly unsatisfactory artwork? And is science prostituted to doing the same - ultimately? Is this what the simultaneous equations of our confused curiosity lead us all to in the end?

I think it a question of. "Does equality promote good journalism and good science?" Or does inequality do this, thereby reducing us all to a large wastage that promotes the problems it sets out to erase, thereby foisting upon us a naive audience who respond better to deception and delusion than they do to education, equality and honesty per se, promoting a harvest richer and riper for the pickings of emotional enterprise, than for reason and fairness? Are the 'upper crust' forever the parents who promise a good Christmas to the masses, hoping the emegency services take up the slack, whilst they are away to the party?

It's an interesting paradox. Would anyone care to elaborate or propose a resolution??

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 06:44:45 UTC | #909429

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 7 by ColdThinker

The problem is most scientists are significantly more intelligent than most journalists. And the journalists aim their articles to a public they assume to be less intelligent than they are. The Hitchens level of intellect and intellectualism in journalism is very rare.

As Bertrand Russell put it: A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 08:19:40 UTC | #909442

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

What this diagram forgets is how different quality is in the two groups. Here are a few ways that they differ:

(1) Most scientists are good; most journalists are bad. Indeed, virtually all science journalists are bad.
(2) There's a much more objective standard for detecting bad science.
(3) Bad scientists face serious consequences the likes of which bad journalists can only begin to imagine.
(4) You never see an article by a scientist that misconstrues the findings of journalists' research.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 09:04:12 UTC | #909446

tejas_gokhale01's Avatar Comment 9 by tejas_gokhale01

Reminds me of Jeremy Clarkson and his ignorance.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 09:39:24 UTC | #909453

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 10 by Premiseless

Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons :

What this diagram forgets is how different quality is in the two groups. Here are a few ways that they differ:

(1) Most scientists are good; most journalists are bad. Indeed, virtually all science journalists are bad. (2) There's a much more objective standard for detecting bad science. (3) Bad scientists face serious consequences the likes of which bad journalists can only begin to imagine. (4) You never see an article by a scientist that misconstrues the findings of journalists' research.

I'd like to request enlightenment upon, what I assume to be known to the psychology community as something congruent to concept resilience. I don't mean cognitive dissonance! Though this is a barrier that lends itself to this mindset. I mean concept resilience. I am pretty certain there are various motivators for this. Some are indirectly infectious upon the mind, as with the small child fearful of displeasing teacher and thus unable to link the thoughts that would enable concept digestion, rather than being intrinsically physiologically challenged to do so. So one motivator of concept resilience is FEAR. Fear can present in all sorts of circumstance and I won't go into that right now. Suffice to say the point is, that it is a good indirect tool for enabling concept resilience! Another motivator for concept resilience is emotional bigotry. "I feel so and so therefore your information input cannot be received." Emotional resilience to conceptual sincerity!

There is much on this that one could enlarge upon, however I think the point is clear. Why are humans , in various contexts, relationships, career, lifestyle and personal growth, so encumbered by and seduced into subservience due the variety or viral concepts that place them in a state of conceptual receivership? Concept resilience!

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:07:37 UTC | #909473

Sample's Avatar Comment 11 by Sample

I've been privy, regionally, to meetings between these two information groups while they were trying to compromise on concerns. Unfortunately, I've never witnessed progress. The goals really are different.

Some may find it interesting that there are science-based professions (though not always chock-full of science-based practitioners!) who are actually countering the problem of unreliable information by forming their own network of professionals, in one case veterinary staff, and providing media ready content on a regular basis nationwide in the US.

I suppose if one can't amend the system, create your own.

Mike

P.S. ColdThinker, I liked that Russell quote. Thanks.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:33:47 UTC | #909483

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 12 by Premiseless

Comment 7 by ColdThinker :

As Bertrand Russell put it: A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.

I often found 'The clever mans arrogance a barrier to language that enables a stupid man access to being understood, which also presents a security to the arrogant man having others access his domain, thus reducing his market value.' It's a truism often played out. It is quite beautiful to find an intelligent man seeking a common language of understanding. In fact this is one of my main definitions of 'clever man' period - but I'll defer from wranglings over definition on this score.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 12:16:23 UTC | #909496

debaser71's Avatar Comment 13 by debaser71

I really hate how most journalists write. I don't need a hook, or some story to relate to. I'm also not in fifth grade.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 13:43:29 UTC | #909512

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 14 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Subjectively (sorry about that), it seems to me that the Net is changing journalism in many ways.

I spend at least as much time reading non-journalists as I do the professionals. One reason for this is that on-line people explain things properly. As someone who suffers with verbal diarrhoea, perhaps I'm just feeling the need for solidarity?

The Net totally outclasses newspapers - and often leaves TV and Radio standing - when it comes to breaking news.

You would think that these things would change Old Media science reporting. But Old Media is seemingly unable to change its ways as today's blackout by Wikipedia demonstrates.

It's their funeral.

Does anyone know of some, freely available, objective evidence for the migration of the audience from Old to New Media?

Peace.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 17:06:13 UTC | #909574

i_am_user's Avatar Comment 15 by i_am_user

It's unfortunate but a lot of friends get trapped into the journalistic sensationalism of science - I say its better to not report it at all than to provide a catchy headline that misleads the masses.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 17:38:51 UTC | #909581

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

Comment 7 by ColdThinker

The problem is most scientists are significantly more intelligent than most journalists. And the journalists aim their articles to a public they assume to be less intelligent than they are. The Hitchens level of intellect and intellectualism in journalism is very rare.

There is one very good solution to this, but it unlikely to very widely adopted. That is to have good scientists work in the media themselves. The trouble is that they would not churn out the pap that media bosses and the dim sections of the public require, so they would only reach a limited audience. The "brain-dead" would watch "Big Brother", soaps, or read gossip in tabloid comics instead.

Comment 3 by SomersetJohn

"Nobody likes a smartarse."

Except another smartarse, of course:-)

..and the dimmest of smartarses love smartarse journalists disparaging clever people - often where the journalists have misquoted the science in the first place, and then attributed the tripe to the scientists.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 17:51:40 UTC | #909590

ChadSmith1452's Avatar Comment 17 by ChadSmith1452

"Bad journalists" is a veritable tautology (the only one I ever saw who could even read and write was Hitchens) and the title of this diagram is a misnomer. It should read: "every scientists versus advertisers debate ever".

Journalists do not, as some un valu'd persons do, carve for themselves.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 18:02:12 UTC | #909594

Ballardian2's Avatar Comment 18 by Ballardian2

Comment 17 by ChadSmith1452

"Bad journalists" is a veritable tautology (the only one I ever saw who could even read and write was Hitchens)

Let's face it, even the worst journalist wouldn't make such a crass and incorrect generalisation. If you respect Hitchens so much, why not track down some of the journalists he admired and looked up to?

Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

(1) Most scientists are good; most journalists are bad. Indeed, virtually all science journalists are bad.

What do you mean by "good" and "bad"? Do you mean ethically or professionally?

(3) Bad scientists face serious consequences the likes of which bad journalists can only begin to imagine.

Again, what the hell does this mean? Surely the worst consequence is death, something which still happens all too frequently to journalists who cover global conflict (and that isn't even just for "bad" journalists). The worst consequence for 99% of scientists is just losing their position at a university. It's a job like any other.

(4) You never see an article by a scientist that misconstrues the findings of journalists' research.

Only because scientists are never asked to explain journalistic research. You will, however, find plenty of articles by scientists who don't seem to understand the very basics of journalism.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 18:44:20 UTC | #909602

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 19 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #909602 by Ballardian2

Oh look, an old non-friend of mine. The questions you ask of me have painfully obvious answers, but I'll supply them to do you a favour.

What do you mean by "good" and "bad"?

Given the context, that I was critiquing the diagram, it's obvious I mean "good or bad at getting the facts right on the scientific issue being discussed".

Surely the worst consequence is death, something which still happens all too frequently to journalists who cover global conflict (and that isn't even just for "bad" journalists). The worst consequence for 99% of scientists is just losing their position at a university. It's a job like any other.

It's also obvious from the context that I'm talking about "consequences of being bad" (in the sense I define above). My point was journalists can get away with just about any error with a hard-to-find retraction if they even need to do that, whereas scientists can lose their jobs, professions and scientific and associated licenses for life for being wrong - just look at Andrew Wakefield.

You will find plenty of articles by scientists who don't seem to understand the very basics of journalism.

Link to an example, then explain how it misconstrues journalism. Then you'll at least have proof there is at least one such article (which isn't plenty).

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 20:22:07 UTC | #909622

Tord M's Avatar Comment 20 by Tord M

If some scientist don't like living in a country where there is free press, they can go live somewhere else, and then see how much public funding will be available for their research.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:09:19 UTC | #909648

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 21 by Alan4discussion

Comment 20 by Tord M

If some scientist don't like living in a country where there is free press, they can go live somewhere else, and then see how much public funding will be available for their research.

..and the point of going abroad to escape sloppy incompetent journalism (often sponsored by people with devious agendas) ... .. would be ... .. ... .. ?

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:44:22 UTC | #909659

Misfire's Avatar Comment 22 by Misfire

Is it just that I have a weak grasp of economics, or am I right that the science stories are dumbed down and ditzified more than others?

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 01:04:43 UTC | #909686

i_am_user's Avatar Comment 23 by i_am_user

If some [insert person/group here] don't like living in a country where [insert complaint/problem here], they can go live at [insert place with lower quality of life here] and see how they like [insert problem related to the group/person in particular here].

These kinds of comments are neither insightful nor helpful. So we shouldn't raise any complaints because somewhere else in the world has it much worse?

Comment 20 by Tord M :

If some scientist don't like living in a country where there is free press, they can go live somewhere else, and then see how much public funding will be available for their research.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 07:42:01 UTC | #909725

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 24 by Jos Gibbons

A recent BBC article exemplifies how rubbish is the science in articles by science journalists. Is this the fault of journalists or scientists? In this article, education reporter Judith Burns discusses parents' inability to answer children's questions, going through 5 examples, in each case quoting physicist Brian Cox's answers. Let's just say the answers, whether they're due to Burns or Cox, are sub-Wikipedia par.

She understates the mass of Earth by a factor of 6 million. Even YEC dates aren't that bad. The "answer" is "1,000 trillion metric tonnes, the equivalent of 570,000,000,000,000 Indian elephants". I find it hard to believe he as a physicist would get the answer that wrong. (What did he do, mix up the two definitions of trillion and forget a factor of 6? Hasn't he, a physicist, ever calculated g = GM/(R*R) from first principles?) Either way, the scientist-journalist dynamic really needs to improve how it produces science articles.

Then there's the answer to how airplanes fly: "The upward lift of a plane is created by its curved wings. The way air flows over and under the wing allows a plane to lift. Planes stay up as they have more upward lift than the downward pull of gravity." As XKCD pointed out, there are several reasons this is obviously wrong, e.g. it would imply planes couldn't fly upside down. While we were taught the mathematics of it in university, I'll defer to quoting a more concise explanation. As Wikipedia explains (abridged):

"The lift on an airfoil is primarily the result of its angle of attack and shape. When oriented at a suitable angle, the airfoil deflects the oncoming air, resulting in a force on the airfoil in the direction opposite to the deflection. This force is known as aerodynamic force ... This "turning" of the air in the vicinity of the airfoil creates curved streamlines which results in lower pressure on one side and higher pressure on the other. This pressure difference is accompanied by a velocity difference, via Bernoulli's principle [and the Kutta-Joukowski theorem, so the resulting flowfield about the airfoil has a higher average velocity on the upper surface than on the lower surface."

If anyone knows how Cox managed to be this wrong, or misunderstood by Burns, please let us know.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 08:30:15 UTC | #909730