Deep behind the science

Science is a discipline where the output, not the work behind it, tends to be reported. The story of how a finding came to be is rarely spelled out, so it’s great to see a scientist recount their experience producing a paper. In this case, it’s an unusual story – the coauthors of the paper have never met in real life, and it’s a great example of how sharing ideas, hard work and a fascination with nature can pay off. Read it here!

Oh, and it’s about sea level rise. Here’s a picture of the sea, at sunrise.

The GoPro isn't just useful as a boardcam... though it was stuck to the board when I took this! Click for a big version.

Categories: Random Links, Science, Things people do | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Deep behind the science

  1. Talking about science and the reporting of the findings, I’m reminded of one of my favour PHD comics: Science News Cycle. It’s a little more directed at the result of the media chain, but it always give me a laugh;

    • Oh wow, I hadn’t seen that one… sadly, almost perfect. I’m reminded of a study (excuse my poor lack of citation here) that found that a majority of researchers are happy with how their research is personally presented in the media (if it is picked up), but researchers in general think that science reporting is of a poor standard. There are certainly exceptions to this, but it seems that it’s not the corresponding journalist’s fault – it’s the editors or commentators who get a hold of the story who really wrangle the meaning and give ‘media’ a bad name.

      Then there are just the outright bad journalists…

  2. A Canadian blog, Desmogblog, the other day made comment over the lack of apology following the investigations into the stolen emails. It is amazing how quickly scandals hit the front page, yet how often do they hold any real weight? (I worry when hearing anything reported nowadays in the media and so for the most try not to follow it too greatly)
    I guess more than anything, this has been my inspiration regarding the media/climate “debate”..
    There is no doubt that it is difficult to explain to the general public much of the ideas behind our evolving understanding of the universe and much of which isn’t really needed by most people in their day to day lives. It is also too often a fact of life that the people reporting on such (or, as you mentioned, their supervisors) don’t have the necessary understanding to do the subject any justice. When it’s something as politically unsettling as climate change, it makes sense that policy makers do their best to resist the change as it no doubt requires a whole reshuffle of money flow and governance. Who wants to be held accountable for leading the way into unknown territory?
    Your more recent post, about belief, is one that I often use when discussing everything from science to any aspect of my personal life. I do my best to be a “fence sitter” (with belief) on all subjects and make decisions based on the available evidence. With all environmental issues, it’s not about letting go of what we have, but doing it better. I have friends that wish for a simpler life, but while I agree with them on increased sustainability, I disagree on how to achieve it.

    • I agree – in the media, being right is rarely as important as being a good story. I’m not sure if you’ve seen ‘thebenshi’ – work by a science communicator named Randy Olson. I’ve found it very interesting reading, article #15 is about the speed with which the ‘climategate’ scandal developed:

      It can be hard to fence-sit on issues – we generally know enough about most things to form an opinion – our gut feeling – the problem is that, until we look further, we can’t actually gauge how useful or informed the opinion is. The Dunning-Kruger effect!


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