Bora Zivkovic
Interesting. I have yet to meet a biologist who takes Gaia hypothesis seriously, as anything beyond mystical mumbo-jumbo, but I guess Lovelock is beloved in his home country. But Christine's inclusion of Lovelock's Gaia in the list of accepted science points exactly to the thesis of her post - how does a journalist, without scientific training, figure out who is to be trusted. - Bora Zivkovic
Bora, that speaks to my premise that the reason why it's become very difficult to do any reporting on biology. It's become so complex and we are learning so much so fast, that it's tough for people in other related sciences to grok everything, forget the press - Deepak Singh
Ho hum. Yes perhaps it does prove a point about science journalists with a lack of background. The answer is that I really wouldn't know without doing a survey of the relevant scientists. Lovelock was recommended to me as an example and I thought that it was broadly-speaking accepted, but if this is not the case then I do apologise for my mistake. But hey, I'm at the beginning of this journey and learning things along the way. So thanks for your comments, it's all useful for the future. - Christine Ottery
This post and this question are very important. I'd like to see a session on this at ScienceOnline2010: - Bora Zivkovic
The comment by 'postlinearity' is typical for a certain mindset. It does not reflect reality, but people like him really believe it. This is the kind of mindset we need to address and fight against - which is, again, one of the points of the blog post. I guess I will need to expand this into a longish blog post of my own, but the number of scientists motivated by money (they must be stupid - there's no money in science and they can make, with that intellect and education, 100x as much in pretty much any other industry) is incredibly miniscule compared to the numbers who do it because of passion and curiosity. Unfortunately, the media loves to point out stories when scientists do bad things - one of the reasons I did the whole "what is investigative science reporting?" thing on Twitter yesterday: to draw in the range of responses about this. - Bora Zivkovic
I remember this postlinearity character from a year or two ago. Always alleging scientists are corrupted and led by corporate interests. Get real. - Mr. Gunn
There was someone like that I eventually blocked. Is this the same guy but got unblocked via a glitch in FF? Did I forget I unblocked him? Or is it a new person with the same anti-science bent? - Bora Zivkovic
Don't delete comments. They have a purpose. And responses now make no sense. We are not interested in censorship or self-censorhip. Your position is paranoid and wrong, but you should air it and not fret when we respond and set you straight. Thus onlookers learn something from the exchange. - Bora Zivkovic
That article, which I skimmed fast, is a sense. First 3 pages are basic history of science, nothing new, nothing controversial, except that many scholars would disagree with details. For example, Darwin was much influenced by Linnaues and a careful reading of the 'Origin' shows that his thinking was deeply ecological. He disagreed strongly with the Spencerian uber-competitive view of evolution. Many generations of rightwing social Darwinists, followed later by hyperadaptationists and genocentrics follow up on Spencer, not Darwin. Darwin's ecological view was kept alive in the East, following Kropotkin, while in the West it went through cycles (see Eric Michael Johnson's article in SEED that I tweeted on Thursday). Back to the article...after spending 3 pages on history of science and thus making sure that the reader is primed to think about the cultural milieu in which science occurs, the author makes a slight of hand - suddenly and without warning he switched from scientific culture to industrial culture. The two cultures have historically been not just vastly different, but often strongly opposed to each other - the mindsets are so different and the goals as well. Thus an unsuspecting reader would end the article thinking there is something wrong with science, while it is really the corporate/industrial culture that is faulted and it is actually the scientists who are strongest voices for changing it. Thus, though superficially seeming eloquent and scholarly, the article is actually a dishonest piece of anti-science propaganda. - Bora Zivkovic
Bora, thanks a lot for sharing your analysis here. I really appreciate it. Also, I hope you'll do that blog post you were pondering about in one of your earlier comments. - Meryn Stol
which one - I have a few brewing slowly in my head, waiting to get ripe enough to write and post? - Bora Zivkovic
The one on what drives scientists, and your general view on the trustworthiness of them. Or just about anything you can say on this matter, 'cause I generally dig your posts. :) Though I do think that on journalism, you're a bit too far from your personal "expertise", or at least my perception of it. You have more authority on issues surrounding science. Which doesn't mean that I disagree with you often, but just that I wouldn't refer to you as fast for expert opinion on this. - Meryn Stol
Ehm, to clarify, on science journalism I think you do have authority (because journalists are basically writing about *you*, as a scientist), on the future of news institutions, and the desirability and implications of potential futures less so. - Meryn Stol
Fair enough. I am a blogger, using the platform to explore things I don't know rather than things I do know (and may be bored with anyway), to learn from reactions, to get my readers to see different ways of thinking and see how they react to this - everybody gains something from the exercise. Of course, I am always right! ;-) - Bora Zivkovic
Just to have it straight: I do not mind you using your blog for subjects you do not consider yourself an authority about; in fact, to the contrary. Let other people (including me) judge for themselves. Otherwise you would have to play it safe all the time. You possibly might not even want to write about anything but your particular field of science you're in. That would be an incredible waste. - Meryn Stol
What I really want to say is: I wish that more scientists would write about their experience with science in general - or even their politics - instead of only focusing on their particular research, which is way too technical for me anyway. - Meryn Stol
Most science bloggers write about meta stuff and personal stuff. Extremely few focus on their narrow domain of expertise. Commenters who do not like something, e.g., religious or political opinion of the blogger usually play concern trolls by saying something like "stick to your own science", unless it is the science that directly refutes their opinion in which they weasel in other ways.... - Bora Zivkovic
@Meryn 90% of scientific bloggers write about science in general - experience with science and only 10% focused on their particular research field. 90% science in general is too much for me - I read about 10-15 blogs like that and get lost - too much info! Good quality info, but too much for me - no time to read everything. In other hand I can barely find a good analytical blog in my research field (I do stem cell research) - I read only 2-3 of them. I consider my blog is very focused on particular field, but I'm trying to provide the best quality analytical content, because it's my authority. I can spend a week to write a post - thinking and investigation the problem. Of course audience of my blog is much much less then blogs about science in general, but if at least 10 people (professionals) enjoying it (I have a feedback) - it's not a waste! We're missing high quality analytical content by experts in particular scientific field. - Alexey
OK, writing an uber-long post about what the phrase "investigative science reporting" means, including the question of Trust. May finish it tomorrow, though. - Bora Zivkovic