By Sarah-Jane O'Connor 29/06/2018


From human stories about the impacts of meth testing, to whether or not to debate scientific facts, here are some of the stories that caught our eye at the Science Media Centre this month.

Seen, read, listened to anything great? Let us know in the comments.

NZ’s natural born killer: Inside our war on stoats
Jamie Morton, NZ Herald

They’re the Department of Conservation’s public enemy number one and can take down birds as big as a takahē or kākāpō: why are stoats so hard to kill and who’s trying to figure out better ways to control them?

The human cost of Housing NZ’s meth-testing debacle
The Hui

Outgoing Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman’s report on meth-contaminated houses, released at the end of May, created waves among media and resulted in Housing NZ immediately changing its policy on the level of methamphetamine detected to trigger action. The Hui dedicated a special episode to examining the human cost of the policy that evicted tenants from their homes on suspicion of methamphetamine use.

Offline
Stuff Circuit

Are we living in the era of the data breach? The Stuff Circuit team investigated an issue with Z Energy’s online card system that potentially exposed the private information of card users, but the company kept the vulnerability quiet.

Daddy’s home! Why aren’t more men taking paternity leave?
Kate Evans, North & South

You might’ve heard the news that a certain politician has recently become a mother, but while baby Neve’s parents are being hailed as role models for working mums and stay-at-home dads, why aren’t more men taking parental leave?

It’s banned in other countries but New Zealand is using more toxic methyl bromide than ever
Tony Wall, Stuff National Correspondent

Stuff national correspondent Tony Wall’s three-part investigation takes a magnifying glass to our increasing use the fumigant methyl bromide, used in the logging industry, and whether our problems could be solved if businesses quit bickering.

What an attack on journalism feels like
Nicky Hager, Newsroom

Here’s one that’s important for the ongoing protection of the Fourth Estate. Investigative journalist Nicky Hager writes about the threats and repercussions from a police search of his home and personal information, following the publication of his book Dirty Politics.

Why I Won’t Debate Science
Kate Marvel, Scientific American

NASA and Columbia University climate scientist Kate Marvel is all for debating fiction, but she won’t debate established facts like climate change. As soon as you open up those things for public argument, you have already lost, she writes on the Scientific American.

Looking for life on a Flat Earth
Alan Burdick, The New Yorker

“If we can agree on anything anymore, it’s that we live in a post-truth era,” Alan Burdick writes in the New Yorker. “Facts are no longer correct or incorrect; everything is potentially true unless it’s disagreeable, in which case it’s fake.”

The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready?
Ed Yong, The Atlantic

From the Congo, following on the heels of Ebola, to a biocontainment facility in Nebraska, science writer Ed Yong went in search of the next big outbreak and asks: will America be ready? Bookmark this for a rainy day, it’s an epic piece of journalism and is also available as an audiobook.

The Tower
Andrew O’Hagan, London Review of Books

If you need a rainy day to read Ed Yong’s piece, you may need to be snowed in to get through The Tower, which traces the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower inferno. There’s also an hour-long film and an audiobook of Andrew O’Hagan’s story.

The Ornithologist the Internet Called a Murderer
Kirk Wallace Johnson, The New York Times

When Christopher Filardi caught a mustached kingfisher on Guadalcanal, the internet went gaga for the beautiful bird. But when people realised the bird had been killed to be kept as a specimen, the tide of public opinion turned swiftly.

The month on Sciblogs

The social science of Mycoplasma
Gareth Enticott and Anne Galloway

As the Government attempts to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, there are lessons to be taken from Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK, write Gareth and Anne.

Appeal to antiquity? Appeal to nature? Bingo!
Alison Campbell, BioBlog

A rich history of something being used as medicine is not the same as a history of it being used “effectively” – but as Alison Campbell writes, that doesn’t stop people advertising their products as such.

The science of journalism
Zahra Shahtahmasebi

University of Canterbury journalism student Zahra Shahtahmasebi attended the Centre for Investigative Journalism conference and writes about the intersection of science and investigative journalism.