Sunday, January 8, 2012

I am critical thinking and so can you

I am tired of reading popular science articles that misinterpret results and misinform the public. A basic understanding of statistics, skepticism, and reading primary sources should requirements for people who inform the general public about new scientific results, but they are not. Pop science journalism is mostly pop, a bit journalism, and very little science. I've seen articles which misquote articles which misquote articles which totally misunderstood the original results. I've seen university press offices and researchers alike spin their results as dramatically as possible in search of recognition they don't deserve for things they didn't prove. Rather than fume in the comment sections of these articles, I'm going to see if I can do better. I'm hardly a journalist, something of a scientist, and still retain the ability to do the first thing any grad student is taught to do: I can pick apart a scientific article in my field like a school of piranhas skeletonizing a cow. If no one reads this, it will be an outlet. If only folks who already think critically about science reporting read this, then I'll have some folks for empathy. And maybe I'll get lucky, and someone will read this blog and think twice about what they read, who they believe, and how they decide they know what they know. Wish me luck.