Dodgy science journalism week

  • That old “really the earth is cooling and we’re about to have an ice age” argument gets another outing, this time in The Australian courtesy of Phil “Australia’s first astronaut” Chapman. Greensblog comprehensively debunks his arguments, which basically rest on totally cherrypicked graphs and figures. Let’s just remember that Chapman is a very highly qualified engineer with climate science simply not his area of expertise, but that’s no excuse for not looking at all the data trends. Shoddy work indeed.
  • The BBC, The Guardian and New Scientist all reported with little skepticism a study which purports to demonstrate that maternal diet determines the sex of babies (high calories for a boy, diet for a girl). Louise Livesey at The F-word Blog takes the poorly designed and analysed study apart, starting with the researchers overstating their results with the old correlation/causation fallacy and going on to the poor study design/implementation issues. It’s all just twaddle, basically.

Has anyone read any good science journalism recently? And what is it with engineers and opinionating wildly outside their field?

Elsewhere: Melissa at Shakesville notes the blatant gender-bias of the coverage of the maternal-diet study – nearly every article talked about how now you could vastly improve your chances of having a boy, as if no-one might ever want to choose to birth a girl.

Categories: culture wars, media, Science, skepticism

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