innocent_lex: (Default)
Okay, sure, not all science journalism, but your average news site avoids actual science and reports on complete bollocks in an incredibly stupid manner. This was in the guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1. It hits a number of issues beautifully but forgets the key one: the number of supposed scientific articles which seem to be written by people who couldn't identify the scientific method if it ran them over in the street.
innocent_lex: (Hmmmm)
This has me quite intrigued: An article from the BBC about reports of UFO sightings in Scotland.

It's not the fact that people are seeing UFOs that intrigues me, but the chap who's quoted at the end of the article. It says:

Stuart Campbell, the Edinburgh-based author of the book The UFO Mystery Solved, said: "UFO reports have all sorts of explanations - lights in the sky from aircraft to hot air balloons.

"Every mystery has a solution somewhere, everything has a rational explanation. The alternative is that we don't live in a rational universe.

"The job is to find an explanation and that can be hard work sometimes."

Assuming this is actually what he said (and from past experience with the website, I certainly can't take that as read), I'm a little bewildered. What is it about the possibility that there is life elsewhere in the universe, i.e. not just here on Earth, and that such life is more technologically advanced than we are so they can achieve interstellar travel... what about that possibility is not rational? It seems eminently rational to me considering the size of the universe, certainly more so than the assumption that ours is the only planet with intelligent and technologically capable life. Perhaps he meant that other explanations were more likely, which is fine when you think of the way we frequently mistake one thing for another, and the way in which our mind fills in gaps to create a reality that may or may not be what is actually around us. But including spacecraft in the list of possibilities is certainly not irrational, merely lower down on the likely list than other things that we see every day.
innocent_lex: (Default)
The BBC have changed the article I referred to yesterday in a spectacular manner. Suddenly it's not "blondes" who are "aggressive", rather "pretty women" who "anger more easily". It talks about this being a self-reporting study (not mentioned in yesterday's version), and there's a big difference between the blonde women being more aggressive in order to get their own way (in the micro-cosm of this particular California University) and pretty women getting angry when in arguments (in the micro-cosm of this particular California University). The evo-psych quote has gone completely.

Amazingly, it still looks like something I recognise clearly as not-even-close-to-science. An absolutely fascinating change in tack, though, for the writer of the article. It looks like the author(s) of this study got in touch to let them know the article was bollocks.

ETA: some of the original quotes here at Gawker, and an entry on Shakesville about this here.
innocent_lex: (Default)
Oh good grief. This stunning piece of research was carried out at the University of California, where it has been established (according to yet another piece of appalling 'science' journalism by the BBC) that blonde women students are more aggressive than brunette women students in the microcosm of a California university. Of course we had to have the evo-psych bollocks included as well.

And that's what's reported from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By the BBC, our celebrated national news institution. Luckily, the NAS site doesn't list this ridiculous report in its 50 most read articles, which include actual science. The BBC, though, in its efforts to demonstrate the strength of its scientific integrity versus other sites says: "The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites". Unfortunately, it doesn't seem responsible for its own content, either.

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