Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 10.19

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

Related Articles

17 Comments

  1. Folks, homeopathy is about the ENERGY left behind in the solution, not about any traces of the compound. It’s the secret of life, the secrets of the universe.

    And everything!

    Now we know why homeopathic medicines usually don’t work. The correct dissolution is 42X!

  2. The problem with Cracked is they’ll follow up a great article like that with an article like this.

    Edit: To clarify, my problem is not that they are pointing out that “science” (the entity) doesn’t know stuff. It’s that it’s presented as “scientists are baffled” as opposed to “hey neat more things we need to learn”.

  3. @Kimbo Jones: Yeah, I know what you mean. Scientists seem to enjoy the unexpected but reporters like to portray them as being alarmed by new developments. Phrases like “turns ___ on its head”, “threatens to disprove ___” and “defies explanation” come up a lot.

  4. @Steve:

    While news reports typically get the details wrong, and often get things completely backwards, they are not entirely to blame for the overestimation of the significance of new findings. Publishing scientists often go a bit far in describing the significance of their own work. This isn’t just done when speaking with the media. This is routine in the peer reviewed literature. Having a novel and significant result is very helpful in getting past the reviewers, so the novelty and significance of research is heavily emphasized.

    Remember Ida a little while ago? The researchers leap-frogged the scientific community to exclaim publicly that they had found a missing link, and that evolution was being turned on its head, and all kinds of rubbish.

    Every new primate fossil is proclaimed to be this mythical “Missing Link”, and to be something “Darwin never could have dreamed of”. This exaggeration (to use a charitable term) is not solely coming from journalists. The researchers are also guilty of over representing the novelty and significance of their findings, because, creationist and parapsychologist talking points notwithstanding, overturning scientific orthodoxy is the ultimate prize for a working scientist.

    I am a Hedge

  5. I kind of wish the flask evolution article had mentioned whether or not the bacteria had speciated. That would be a huge blog to the micro-vs-macro evolution deniers. After 40,000 generations, you’d assume that a completely new species had occurred… granted this is based on my very limited understanding of evolution science. Does ebola reproduce sexually? I honestly don’t know. In that case, how do scientists know when an asexual organism has speciated? Okay, i’m just firing from the hip here this morning.

  6. @FFFearlesss:

    I kind of wish the flask evolution article had mentioned whether or not the bacteria had speciated. That would be a huge blog to the micro-vs-macro evolution deniers.

    Sure enough, in that case you’d have them throwing just another canard in their arsenal: “But they’re still bacteria! Call me when a bacterium gives birth to a reticulated python.”

  7. @FFFearlesss:

    In that case, how do scientists know when an asexual organism has speciated?

    That’s a bit fuzzy. There are several various attempts to define speciation. Some of them rely on sexual reproduction, and some attempt to cover asexual as well. The fundamental problem with all the definitions is that they are trying to determine how to set rigid boundaries onto something that is inherently gradual. We want to classify things into bins. Life doesn’t play along.

    There’s probably a wikipedia page about species concepts that will be much more informative than anything I would tell you.

    I am a Hedge

  8. re: HuffPo/homeopathy article-

    I couldn’t keep my nose clean – I had to link to my facebook account (I refuse outright to SUBSCRIBE to that rag) so I could comment on the notion that “We can’t change your minds and you can’t change ours”.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close