Journalists vs scientists

By Siouxsie Wiles 03/02/2012 3


The fantastic Ed Yong has this brilliant schematic of what journalists and scientists think of each other.

I was really pleased to have recently had a couple of fantastic interactions with journalists. First was being interviewed by Margo White for her column in the NZ Listener magazine about my research. The resulting article is here. And then was Charlie Anderson for an article he wrote for the Sunday Star Times about the homeopathic-quantum-biophotonic anti-flea pendant I blogged about last year*. Titled Scientist hot under the collar over flea remedy, I was quoted** as saying:

This raised every red flag of being bollocks. When you read it, it is just a load of nonsense.

He he he.

* And which I found after talking to Charlie had actually removed quite a lot of the nonsense about how the device supposedly works after I blogged about it. The bit that read like Google translate gone wrong has gone and it now states:

We continue to work on the most optimal explanation and welcome your feedback. 19/11/11

** Not incorrectly…..


3 Responses to “Journalists vs scientists”

  • Margo White is excellent. She wrote an excellent article on detox “therapies” which was really well researched and put together, and she quoted me in a couple of places later in the piece putting what I said into the right context (I think a lot of scientists worry about being quoted out of context. My only complaint is that I need to come up with slightly catchier sound bites, but she certainly picked out the key points anyway.

  • Maybe my recent experience has out me in an overly positive head space but EdYong’s seems very negative to me as do many of the comments, almost a stereotypical representation of journalists and scientists. Are we doing better in NZ or are I suffering from confirmation bias?

  • A little backstory to Ed’s cartoon. He put it up as a response to that “yet another” round of scientists v. journalists was to be had as the closing piece for ScienceOnline 2012. As he says, he’s over it, he thinks it’s flogging a dead horse, etc. (You have to remember this is a perennial amongst science writers online, so it’s tedious for some.)

    My understanding is that what negativity he has is over people bringing it up in negative fashion ‘yet again’, asking people to move on past it, that there isn’t a clash in the way some people make out, but rather that this is mainly (only?) about the wayward types on both ‘sides’ and that the good types on both ‘sides’ are fine. (Look at the diagonal arrows, at who is objecting to who.)

    Personally, I think what issues there are worth looking at are technical – this can be talked about with the negativities. The sort of things that might be part of science communication courses 😉 (Blatant plug!) Stuff like the best approaches to take to scientific material, e.g. the ‘classic’ “he said; she said” issue and so on.