Archive for the 'Communicating Science' Category

Journalist discovers epigenetics, says sensationally dumb things

Will someone write a memo to the science journalists of the world… Epigenetics does not contradict, falsify, or otherwise challenge the well understood facts of evolution!!!

The Gaurdian published this gem last week:

Captain Picard, your services are needed.

Jerry Coyne thoroughly handles this bit of poorly informed, sensationalist nonsense, over at Why Evolution is True.

While you’re at it, throw horizontal gene transfer on the memo to journalists as well; they are also pretty confused by that.

The Discovery Channel FAIL-train heads to Alaska

As if replacing David Attenborough with Oprah for the narration of ‘Life’ wasn’t bad enough…

Discovery Communications, the owner of the Discovery and Science Channels, is currently in talks to produce a new HD documentary set in the stunning Alaskan countryside.

That’s not so bad, right?

Well, here’s the troubling detail; this will be a reality program centered on the travels of the most esteemed naturalist… Sarah Palin.

According to Celebbuz:

The program, to be shot in HD, will have Sarah guiding viewers throughout Alaska. And, with the former governor requesting $1.2 million an episode, Alaska would be one of the most expensive nature series ever made.

So Discovery is actually considering throwing the largest documentary budget in history at a complete scientific illiterate. Any pretension this network holds regarding educating the public about science and nature clearly comes second behind pandering to inane popular culture phenomena.

Truly unbelievable, infuriating, and depressing…

Replacing David Attenborough with Oprah, FAIL

Seriously Discovery Channel, why? WHY!?

Why do you feel the need to replace the narration of acclaimed and beloved naturalist David Attenborough for the US version of ‘Life‘; the new mega-documentary from the producers of ‘Planet Earth’? Do you think that Americans are so dumb and xenophobic that we cannot listen to a narrator with a British accent?

And why the hell do you chose Oprah, of all people, as his replacement!? Would it have killed you to find a naturalist, or at the very least someone with a history of passion and enthusiasm for biology? Hell, your usual Attenborough stand-in, Sigourney Weaver, would have been a much better choice.

Instead we get Oprah; the country’s grandest purveyor of snake oil, woo, and pseudoscience.

“Science Channel Refuses To Dumb Down Science Any Further”

The satire news magazine, The Onion, has an article up that is both amusing and depressing. This piece hits an unfortunate nail on the head.

I’ve mentioned before, my contempt for the current state of science programming in the US. I’ll admit that the Science Channel is still the best of the “educational” TV channels, but that isn’t saying much; the other networks seem to continuously rotate between Monster Quest, Paranormal Investigators, and UFO Hunters.

You can tell that all of these channels are under constant pressure to make their shows more extreme and appealing to the lowest common majority of society. I am sure that there are lots of hard working people at the Science Channel who want to give people good, solid science programming, but their efforts are constantly challenged by the marketing department. If we won’t watch good science, they’re not gonna’ show any.

This exemplifies the modern problems with science communications. Somewhere there is a disconnect between researchers and the general public; forcing exciting science to be watered down to the point of inanity. Who is at fault? The scientists, the media, or the average Joe?


I have moved.
Arthropoda can now be found here.

Michael Bok is a graduate student studying the visual system of mantis shrimp.

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