Science Reporters Need to Bark More

first_img“Cheerleader or watchdog?”  That’s the title of this week’s editorial in Nature1 opening a feature on science journalism.  Science reporters are an aid to scientists, the editors said, but not just when they convey their findings to the public or help shape public understanding on matters of policy.  They are also an aid when they are skeptical:And a minority, moving beyond perceived self-interest, will point to the deeper value of journalism, which is to cast a fair but sceptical eye over everything in the public sphere – science included.  This kind of scrutiny is easy for researchers to applaud when a news report questions dodgy statistics, say, or dubious claims about uncertainties in evolution.  It is not so easy when the story takes a critical look at sloppy animal-research practices, overblown claims about climate change or scientists’ conflicts of interest.  But such examinations are to the benefit of the enterprise as a whole: society needs to see science scrutinized as well as regurgitated if it is to give science its trust, and journalists are an essential part of that process.Apparently skepticism of evolution is not permitted.  The rest of the editorial concerned ways scientists can become more involved with journalism.  Other articles in the special section dealt with issues surrounding the new media (Facebook, Twitter and other internet venues).  Toby Murcott (a journalist with a PhD in science) discussed the tendency among reporters to just regurgitate the press releases.2  A cartoon in the article lampoons a reporter bowing in the presence of an angelic scientist.  That role turns the reporter into “a priest, taking information from a source of authority and communicating it to the congregation” (see authority in the Baloney Detector).  He said,This perception is reinforced when you compare our role with that of other journalists.  Political journalists, for example, take an active part in the political debate.  They produce expert commentary on the subtleties of the political process, highlighting strengths, weaknesses and potential pitfalls of policy ideas.  They interview politicians as equals, challenging them to explain their ideas and, crucially, picking them up on inconsistencies, contradictions and mistakes.    These journalists are active participants in the process of knowledge creation in a way that science journalists cannot be, given the qualifications needed to act as an equal in scientific debate.  Although science news reporting can influence science funding and research priorities, science journalists are not players in the scientific process.  Again this is like a priest, who has little or no effect on the activities of the deity itself and who is not actually needed for the deity to continue.    The ‘priesthood’ model of science journalism needs to be toppled….How to topple it?  One important way, Murcott explained, would be “if scientists helped to unmask the very human process through which science is produced and reviewed, thus dismantling their church-like roles as unquestionable authorities.”  In addition, reporters need to take the time to get better informed and “be able to interrogate and be critical when necessary, and not feel intimidated by those we are interviewing” (cf. next entry commentary, 06/25/2009).  He said science journalism should not just be restricted to sharing the latest ooh-aah stories and calling everything a “breakthrough” (an overused word) or a “gripping story.”  He said, “Genuine public awareness of science, however, also includes an understanding of how scientific knowledge is crafted.” Scientists know all about this.  “The broader public deserves to know too.”    One other entry ran with the projection theme of cheerleaders vs watchdogs.3  Boyce Rensberger, a reporter with 32 years experience with outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post, even included cartoons along the theme: one reporter barking at a surprised scientist, and another reporter with pompons cheering him along.  Rensberger summarized the history of how science journalism has progressed from cheerleader to watchdog since the beginning of the 20th century.  Up through the 1940s, he said, reporters often felt it was their job to (1) translate scientific jargon for the masses, and (2) play priest and preacher:More than that, according to Bruce Lewenstein, a historian of science journalism at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the handful of science journalists at US newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s believed that it was their job to persuade the public to accept science as the salvation of society (B. V. Lewenstein Public Underst. Sci. 1, 45�68; 1992).  This was a vestige of the Progressive Era in American history that spanned the 1890s to the 1920s, in which intellectuals of all stripes believed that society was perfectible and that the wonders of science and technology would lead civilization towards this ideal.Reporters formed professional associations like those of the scientists (especially the National Association of Science Writers, or NASW).  NASW members presented themselves as elite professionals and convinced the scientists to talk only to them.  “Thus began what I call the ‘Gee-Whiz Age’ of science reporting, in which the emphasis was on the wonders of science and respect for scientists, rather than on any analysis of the work being done or any anticipation of its effects on society.”  Reporters created an aura of “the joy of science for its own sake”.    The relationship of “trust and respect” took a jolt after the Manhattan Project and the atom bomb.  Another jolt came when Rachel Carson took on the miracle pesticides scientists created in her book, Silent Spring (1962).  Rensberger continued his historical narrative tracing the critical tack reporters took in the 1970s – the “watchdog age” when exposes of nuclear reactor safety problems and stories about the adverse effects of technology became more common.  A brief boom in science journalism occurred from 1978 to 1987 when science magazines and science sections in newspapers surged, then withered.    Now we are in the Digital Age.  The New Media are grabbing the market long held by traditional media outlets.  With the change has come a new openness to scrutinize the pontifications of the scientific institutions.  “Science journalism has moved from working for the glory of the scientific establishment to taking back its independence and exercising a new responsibility to the public,” Rensberger said.  That can be good, but with traditional sources withering, should scientists take their message to the public directly via the Web?  That can embed an agenda with the message.  “It is becoming increasingly difficult for readers to tell which sources are disinterested and which have an axe to grind.”  Here was this seasoned reporter’s concluding advice: “If science journalists are to regain relevance to society, not only must they master the new media, they must learn enough science to analyse and interpret the findings – including the motives of the funders.  And, as if that were not enough, they must also anticipate the social impacts of potential new technologies while there is still time to make a difference.”1.  Editorial, “Cheerleader or watchdog?”, Nature 459, 1033 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591033a.2.  Toby Murcott, “Science journalism: Toppling the priesthood,” Nature 459, 1054-1055 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591054a.3.  Boyce Rensberger, “Science journalism: Too close for comfort,” Nature 459, 1055-1056 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/4591055a.We wish to thank Nature for justifying the existence of Creation-Evolution Headlines.  Other than the Editorial hit-and-run sideswipe at those who report “dubious claims about uncertainties in evolution,” which our astute readers surely saw right through, most of the opinions expressed in this feature were congruent with analyses we have been making for almost nine years: that the major science reporting sites often act like obsequious, fawning toadies for the Darwin Party Establishment.  They regurgitate undigested press releases and fail to ask the kinds of hard questions their colleagues in the Beltway throw at conservative politicians (not at liberals, because there is an unmistakable double standard, especially now, with the mainstream media absolutely euphoric over Obama).  “The ‘priesthood’ model of science journalism needs to be toppled,” Murcott said.  Amen!  Where can you find no-nonsense, bold, critical analysis of the claims emanating from the manufacturers of scientific “knowledge” in near real time?  Right here – and, sadly, few places else.    The glimmer of hope from LiveScience today (next entry) and the expressions of disgust by journalists about the Missing Link hoopla last month (05/19/2009) need to be fanned into flame.  Hug a reporter who finally gets it, that his or her job is to analyze and critique all truth claims, praising those who are praiseworthy, but unabashedly standing up to any human being, scientist or not, who thinks to tell us what we are, where we came from, and what we should be doing.  The reporter should be shouting, “Prove it!  Where is your evidence?”  Sadly, reporters for a long time were delivering The Word from the authorities without question.  The shabby record of Darwin-licking media that continues today shows there is still a long way to go.  Hopefully after the next surge of Charlie worship in November, after the Origin 150th anniversary celebrations come and go, a period of clear thinking will become possible.    Did you catch the fact that Murcott and Rensberger described most science journalists as a priesthood?  Did you pause to consider that these are the very reporters who present themselves as unbiased, secular reporters?  Did you also notice that they said that scientific knowledge is “crafted,” not discovered, and that “knowledge creation” is the work of fallible human beings, not a church-like process of delivering pronouncements from unquestionable authorities as if they are the only people able to comprehend the objective facts of nature?  Did you notice that they were complaining about the sad state of affairs in much of science journalism to this day?  It should begin to dawn on you that having a Judeo-Christian worldview as a foundation is not the only position that could be described as religiously motivated    Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, where did we come from? and how did this amazing universe come to be?  Everybody cares about that question.  Everybody has an answer to it, and a world view that answer is based on.  Even if the answer is “I dunno” or “I don’t care” or “Nobody knows,” that’s an answer with a world view underlying it.  So if you are being swayed by the DODO blogs (Darwin-Only, Darwin-Only) to believe Darwin-doubters alone are pushing a religious agenda, think about it.  Who isn’t?  Who is perfectly unbiased about origins in the media—or in the whole population of humans?  The issue should not be anyone’s agenda, but the quality of their evidence and reasoning, and their ability to argue that evidence with sound rhetoric and logic.  The evolutionists arrogate to themselves the aura of epistemic privilege due to their assumed tie-in with “science.”  Anyone swayed by that has not been studying Darwinism for very long, nor philosophy of science, either.    The only ones you should distrust are those who pretend to be neutral – who fail to give you both sides, who misrepresent those with whom they disagree, who fail to reveal their biases, and fail to use critical thinking skills when analyzing the claims they are reporting.  At CEH, you don’t have to take our word for anything.  We give you internet-fast hot links to all the original sources.  We are fiercely independent and intolerant of bluffing.  We receive no funding from the government, scientific institutions, or technology companies.  With our specialty on news related to origins, we do our best to separate the reporting from the commentary.  We try to convey sufficient understanding of scientific and philosophical issues to report them accurately and stimulate your own critical thinking skills.  We’ve got our watchdog Apollos to bark at any baloney he sniffs.  We’re just doing what Nature said science journalism should be doing in this Digital Age.  No membership in the NASW is required (and it would be a sin to follow in the footsteps of those self-serving sycophants).  Hopefully, we have earned (see our Feedback column), and are continuing to earn with each new entry, your continuing trust and support.(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Cabinet Approves Enterprise Team to Divest NMIA

first_imgCabinet has approved the Norman Manley Enterprise Team, which will proceed with the structuring and due diligence to begin the privatisation of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) as well as the Boscobel, Negril, and Ken Jones aerodromes.          The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will be lead advisors and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), co-advisors. Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, made the announcement on Wednesday at a Jamaica House press briefing, at the Office of the Prime Minister. She informed that phase one of the project, which should last for six months, include the analysis of all aspects of the transaction, including technical, financial and legal due diligence. “The IFC will then recommend the best structure and scope for the transaction. At the end of Phase One, Cabinet’s approval will be required for the privatisation to proceed,” she noted. Additionally, the composition of the NMIA Enterprise Team has been revised with Michael McMorris appointed as Chairman. In October 2008, Cabinet had approved the establishment of the enterprise team headed by Christopher Zacca to manage the privatisation of the NMIA. Last year Cabinet also approved the engagement of IFC and the DBJ, and consequently a financial advisory services agreement was signed in July 2011, while an agreement for the provision of privatisation services was signed between the DBJ and the then Ministry of Transport and Works.         Cabinet has also approved the implementation of a 500-metre western extension of the NMIA to include a runway safety area (RSA), in order to conform to international civil aviation standards. “Norman Manley is way behind schedule and has until 2015 to implement the RSA,” she noted. Meanwhile, Minister Falconer disclosed that the government has a number of assets that it wants to divest, but that all have not yet been reviewed and assessed. “When we divest those assets, they must not be assets that the public rely on for services,” the Minister assured.last_img read more

Ontario gets another extension on care case

first_imgDelaney WindigoAPTN National NewsThe court battle for a Six Nations girl, who rejected chemotherapy in favour of alternative treatment, has been extended.The province has now been granted a May 1 deadline to appeal the controversial court ruling that allowed the girl to seek alternative treatments.Ontario’s Attorney General has not provided any details on what grounds it plans to use in its appeal.“The parties to these proceedings have agreed to a further extension of the appeal period to May 1, 2015,” said spokesperson Brendan Crawley in a statement. “The family, the Government of Ontario and Six Nations are continuing to discuss the matter.”The girl who cannot be named due to a publication ban, made national headlines last year when an Ontario judge ruled that she had the constitutional right to use traditional medicine.This is now the fourth time the province has been granted a new deadline for a possible appeal.dwindigo@aptn.ca@delaneywindigolast_img read more

Christian Pulisic reveals why he joined Chelsea

first_imgBorussia Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic insists the reason why he joined Chelsea is because of their style of play under Maurizio Sarri.The Blues completed the signing of Pulisic early last week for a fee in the region of £58million but the youngster will spend the remainder of the season with Dortmund.The United States international was one of the most sought-after youngsters in the game following his impressive string of performances since appearing in the first team of the Black & Yellow in 2016.The 20-year-old’s current contract at the Signal Iduna Park was due to run out at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, but after only starting 11 games this season, the club hierarchy decided to sell him.Jadon SanchoMerson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.Speaking about his reason for moving to Stamford Bridge, Pulisic said, according to talkSPORT: “I’ve seen their style of play.”“I’ve always appreciated how they’ve played football, and it’s really nice how they play now, with their new coach. It fits me very well.”last_img read more

STATE REP RACE QA Mike McCoy Discusses What Hell Do To Support

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).Below, in his own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Mike McCoy (D-Wilmington).#15a) What you will do at the State House to ensure that our local police and fire departments have what they need to adequately protect us? The brave and dedicated men and women in our police and fire departments put their lives on the line every day. They are our first line of defense for the populations of Tewksbury and Wilmington. It would be irresponsible if I were to do anything less than my best to care for them as their State Representative as they are for me, my family and my neighbors. My platform and commitment to the deserving people in public safety is as follows. I will:Commit one day per month to meet with police, firefighters and EMT’s from Wilmington and Tewksbury. Face-to-face interaction and active listening are the best ways for an elected official to truly understand the needs and concerns of these heroes. You cannot provide these fine people with what they need without keeping your finger on their pulse and getting their direct input. They know best what they need.Provide every individual in public safety a business card with my office, cell and home phone number for direct and immediate access to me, 24/7.Ensure first responders’ salaries and benefits in Tewksbury and Wilmington remain competitive.File legislation to reinstate the death penalty for anybody convicted of taking the life of a first responder.Sponsor legislation to provide compensation for those families who lost a spouse or parent in the line of duty.The populations of Wilmington and Tewksbury are rapidly increasing. What was adequate in the past won’t cut it in the future. Response time for police, fire and EMS is frequently a matter of life and death. Our increasing populations in our communities directly impacts response time in two ways; the first is increased traffic. Think of Routes 38 and 62 today as compared to ten years ago. Now picture it ten years from now. The second factor is that increased populations and dwellings exponentially increase the probability of several emergencies occurring at the same time. Having a substation in North Wilmington will cut response time. Another reason for having this substation is the railroad crossing on Middlesex Avenue. Emergency response vehicles have waited for the commuter rail gates to be lifted. There is also an immediate danger associated with this crossing is the location is the MTBA commuter on/off boarding platform. The current location is too close to Middlesex Avenue. The crossing gate and train block the traffic on Middlesex Avenue for emergency response vehicles for minutes when seconds count. Resolving this critical public safety issue will be a high priority item if I am elected as your next state representative. Finally, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our public safety professionals.#15b) Do you support a fire substation in North Wilmington? The simple answer is yes. It is long overdue because of over-development combined with increased population.#15c) Did you/do you support the construction of the new center fire station in Tewksbury that was approved last year?I come from the school of common sense. My own observation dictates that simple answer is yes because of the rampant over-development and the the population explosion. With that being said, I took it upon myself to see Chief Hazel of the Tewksbury Fire Department on Friday August 3, 2018 and asked him a couple of basic questions in regards to the funding of the new Center fire station in Tewksbury. Chief Hazel is a complete gentleman and a true professional. He answered all of my questions and Tewksbury should be very proud to have him as their fire chief. I will always do everything in my power as state representative to ensure that the Tewksbury firefighters have everything they need to keep themselves and the residents safe.#16a) The Vietnam War Moving Wall recently visited Wilmington. It was a sobering reminder of what the men and women in our armed forces are willing to sacrifice to preserve our freedom. What will you do at the State House to support our local veterans and veterans statewide? The first time I visited the wall was in 2008 and again last week I visited the Vietnam Moving Memorial Wall when it came to Wilmington. It gave me pause and an opportunity to silently reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by 58,193 young American men and women. They never had the opportunity to enjoy the full measure of life. Countless more will carry the scars of their service-related or psychological trauma to their graves. Even for those who returned unharmed, their thanks was frequently being spat upon and called, “Baby Killers!” This was a national disgrace. The debt that we owe our veterans is incalculable. As your state representative, I pledge to:Meet with the Veterans Services Departments in Wilmington and Tewksbury once a month to better understand the needs of our veterans and how I can help to fulfill those needs.Sponsor and support legislation that will improve the quality of life for these heroes.Arrange for State House tours for veterans and their families.Establish a communications link with the Tewksbury DAV and the Wilmington VFW and American Legion to explore ways that I can beter assist our prcious veteran population.Address all veteran concerns in a timely and effective manner.#16b) What, if anything, have you done as a private citizen and/or locally elected official that shows a commitment to veterans? While I have never worn an armed services uniform, I have always had the desire to dedicate myself to public service. I fulfilled this need by committing my life to 31 years to serving the public and 28 of those years (and counting) as a Wilmington selectman. Things that I have done to demonstrate my commitment to our veterans include:Making financial contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House and the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, MA.Marching in every Memorial Day parade for 28 years.Supporting the Wilmington Veteran’s service budget for as long as it has been established.In closing, I would like to give a heart-felt thanks to our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. I would also like to extend my profound gratitude to Lisa Downey, the Tewksbury Veterans Service Officer, Lou Cimaglia IV, Wilmington Veteran Services Director and Michael Frotten, Wilmington Veteran’s Service agent for the fine work that they do for our veterans on a daily basis.#16c) Do you personally have any family that serves/served? Yes.(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedLETTER TO THE EDITOR: Tewksbury Residents Should Vote Mike McCoy For State Rep Because…In “Letter To The Editor”STATE REP RACE Q&A: Pina Prinzivalli Discusses What She’ll Do To Support Police, Fire & Veterans If ElectedIn “Government”STATE REP RACE: Voting Records Show Prinzivalli Voted Only Once Before Launching Candidacy; Campaign DisputesIn “Government”last_img read more

Navy video shows Thai cave boys in good health

first_imgBoys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave greet members of the Thai rescue team in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a 3 July 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal. Photo: ReutersA new video of a youth football team trapped in the bowels of a Thai cave emerged Wednesday showing the boys laughing and saying they are well after their astonishing discovery by divers nine days after going missing.In a heartening message to families waiting in anguish outside, the Thai Navy SEAL footage features 11 of the 12-strong team, each makes a traditional Thai greeting gesture to the camera before introducing themselves by nickname and saying “I’m in good health”.Several of the boys in the frame are wearing protective foil blankets and are accompanied by a smiling diver in a wetsuit, in video clips published on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page.They were accompanied by a 25-year-old coach, who went with the boys down the cave after football training on June 23.The one-minute video clip ends on a jovial note, with one of the 12 young footballers saying he was forgotten in the round of introductions, sparking laughter.The videos have delighted a Thai nation that has held its breath for a successful outcome to a complex rescue kilometres inside one of the country’s longest caves.But getting the boys out of the still submerged caves, with monsoon rains predicted to soon resume, is likely to be a protracted process and is fraught with risk.”We have to be 100 percent confident that there is no risk to the boys before we evacuate,” Narongsak Osottanakorn, Chiang Rai provincial governor, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.”We will take care them like they are our own children,” he said, adding efforts to install a telephone line failed late Tuesday, but food, medicine and relief gear continues to be ferried into the caves.Authorities are also pumping out water round-the-clock aware of the bad weather forecast in the days ahead.- ‘He is thinner’ -In the video the boys, who have spent 11 nights underground, appear relaxed and much more alert than when they were when British divers found them late Monday huddling on a muddy ledge above surging underground waters.Outside the cave the mother of one of the boys teared-up as she watched the clip on a television screen, saying she was “glad” for a glimpse her son.”He is thinner” she said as she ran her finger over his image — a sign of the heartache the saga has brought to relatives of the trapped 13.Several Navy SEAL divers have deployed along with medics vowing to stay with the group while the challenging process of evacuating the “Wild Boar” team begins.Boys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave greet members of the Thai rescue team in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a 3 July 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal. Photo: ReutersThai authorities say the focus is now building up the boys’ physical and mental strength after an ordeal that has left them emaciated.Next they have three main options: diving out of the cave system, exiting through another hole if one can be found — or drilled — or waiting out the rainy season underground.Experts say diving out is laden with risk — more so as the boys have never dived before and some may not be able to swim.Areas of the cave remain submerged and navigating claustrophobic passages in murky rushing waters risks panic, even if the boys have ample equipment, expert support and a crash-course in how to dive.”This requires them do be psychologically able to cope with being underwater… and the dives being not too long or difficult,” Alan Warild, an expert from the NSW Cave Rescue Squad in Australia, told AFP.The last option of waiting for the monsoon to abate, could be protracted as the monsoon begins to bite.However, officials say they have stored food, medicine and equipment to last for up to four months at an underground base.last_img read more

Of notebooks and revolutions

first_imgThe Book Office of the Institut français en Inde or the Embassy of France in India is proud to be associated with the release of the English translation of Chowra Makaremi’s Le Cahier d’Aziz. Au cœur de la révolution iranienne (Gallimard, 2011) published in India by Yoda Press under the title Aziz’s Notebook: At the Heart of the Iranian Revolution.The author will be in conversation with books editors and press on 18 March. Head over for an interesting talk.last_img

STARTERS ORDERS movers and specials Thursday

first_imgWelcome to Starters Orders. Our daily midday update from the trading room at Star Sports with our key market movers for the day across all sports.Thursday 8 March HORSE RACING3.15 ThurlesAwayinthewest 7/4 > 11/83.25 CarlisleShanaway 9/1 > 9/25.25 ThurlesThosedaysaregone 15/8 > 5/4EUROPA LEAGUEUEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg18:00 BT Sport 211/10 AC Milan 11/4 Arsenal 5/2 DRAWBET NOW starsports.bet or 08000 521 321last_img