But what about why it's "no"?

By Grant Jacobs 27/11/2010 4


From SMBC comes this cartoon of a rule for science journalism:

Don't write no articles

But, but, but … what about articles that explain why it’s ’no’?

In the background, readers hear the sound of a can of worms opening…

(Some might suggest the problem lies more with the titles than the articles, perhaps. I’m still pondering it.)

Leaving aside the science journalism question, if you like xkcd check out SMBC. Great stuff there.


Other weekend fare from Code for life:

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Fainting kittens – feline myotonia congenita?

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Rain, sleet, snow, music and science blogs


4 Responses to “But what about why it's "no"?”

  • The following letter appeared in the DomPost last Thursday:

    OPINION: Last week, The Dominion Post showed three Conservation Department staff very excited at the discovery of “the most endangered marine invertebrates in the country” on Wellington’s south coast. There was a photo of them sifting gravel as part of their “hunt”.

    Seemingly, these highly endangered slugs “probably have a few stories to tell”, according to one DOC scientist.

    So what? What benefit to anyone will this amazing slug discovery have? I’m looking at three marine scientists, whose combined salaries probably well exceed $200,000 funded from my taxes, wallowing in the gravel looking for slugs.

    Please tell me that they will produce an outcome that justifies this excessive waste of our taxes or else move on to something that will make a worthwhile contribution to life here.

    Otherwise, let some local Maori search for these slugs on their beach and let DOC do something worthwhile that benefits
    ***********************************************************

    Who wants to offer some interesting comments for inclusion in a letter of reply. I think I might get too bitter and twisted. 1. It is a shame we have people out there with views like this. 2. It is a shame that the DomPost sees fit to print it. 3. What does that say about the DomPost respect for science?

  • Maybe we can rustle up our resident marine biologist?

    Any readers are welcome to pitch in.

    One loose thought, though: I’d think editors have to allow people to have other points of view, even if they don’t agree with them. Furthermore, I imagine they include some letters because they might stir up a response / discussion, rather than because they respect the point of the view of the writer of the letter.

  • Some points possibly worth making.
    1) Understanding any living organism contributes to our understanding of biology and the environment.
    2) Studying of even the most apparently simple or uninteresting organism (if there is such a thing) can result in great strides in science. Studies of the “glue” mussels use to stick to rocks has resulted in a sealant which has promise in treating defects in human fetal membranes

  • Some points possibly worth making.
    1) Understanding any living organism contributes to our understanding of biology and the environment.
    2) Studying even the most apparently simple or uninteresting organism (if there is such a thing) can result in great strides in science. Studies of the “glue” mussels use to stick to rocks has resulted in a sealant which has promise in treating defects in human fetal membranes. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122102845.htm
    Studies of leeches and other organisms have contributed to our understanding of ant-coagulants while anti-cancer compounds have been derived from sponges from the antarctic oceans.

    And some quite nice quotes, I think the last one is very appropriate:

    “Whenever you look at a piece of work and you think the fellow was crazy, then you want to pay some attention to that. One of you is likely to be, and you had better find out which one it is. It makes an awful lot of difference.”
    Charles Franklin Kettering (1876-1958) U. S. engineer and inventor.

    “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”
    Hippocrates (c460-c.377 BCE) Greek physician.

    “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it is tied to everything else in the universe.”
    John Muir (1838-1914) U. S. naturalist, explorer.

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