Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Science by Press Release

I've been spending more and more time on Twitter, with a result of less time here. Partly that's because I've been having a slew of aging computer, connectivity and software problems (Seriously Adobe, your plug-ins couldn't cause more issues?), and partly it's because sharing a quick comment and link on Twitter is just so much faster and easier... especially when aforementioned problems are causing my computer to go into lockdown every 3 to 5 minutes.

The downside is that Twitter, like Facebook, is very much ephemeral. It is next to impossible to find a particular tweet unless it's pretty recent.

I got onto another Twitter rip today, with the theme of "If Science by press release existed in [...]'s day," satirizing the kind of sensationalistic, overly dramatic, factually challenged, and premature types of reports that pass for science journalism these days. So for the sake of a permanent record- for my own satisfaction, at least- here are my tweets (and one from another) on that topic:
If Science by Press Release existed in...
  • Newton's Day: "New Discovery May Lead to Space Flight: Report."
  • Stone Age: "Control of Fire May Resolve Transportation Problems Says Eminent Witch Doctor."
  • Pasteur's Day: "Animicule Theory Could Lead to New treatments for Bad Air."
  • Archimedes' Day: "Application of Density to Astronomy Suggests New Class of Exotic Space Objects."
  • Becher's day: "Phlogiston Theory Supports Existence of Human Soul, Angels, Demons, Study Says."
  • Eratosthenes' day: "Shape, Size of the world: Controversy and Conflict Among the Experts"
  • Agricola's day: "New Study to Examine differences between Dwarf and Kobold Mining Techniques."
  • Socrates' day: "Announcement: New Element Discovered, Named 'Aether.'"
  • Pliny's day: "The Next Supervolcano Eruption and You: Is YOUR Family Safe?"
  • Mendel's day: "Peagate 'Proves Inheritance is Hoax:' Scientific Report" (with followup comment from @, "Gene Skeptics Scoff at New Wrinkle in Mendelist Theory")
  • Hutton's day: "Claim: Earth May Be One Million Years Old. Theologists Express Skepticism, Outrage."
  • Mendelev's day: "New Periodic Organization Dismissed: Chemists Prefer Traditional, Alphabetic Order.
Also, from , If science by press release existed in Darwin's day: "It All Comes Down to Sex: New Study by Fossil Sleuth"

I'll add any others that I come up with, and, with appropriate credit, other folks post. How would your favorite scientist(s) have been misquoted, misrepresented or misinterpreted by today's so-called "journalism?"

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