Science panel presentation

Simplifying Science
How scientists and reporters can more
effectively inform the public
Scientist says...
Reporter writes ....
Graphics courtesy Discover magazine.
Some people think both scientists and
reporters just screw things up.
Stone Age Villages Found!
Explaining Science
What works and what
Why is it critical to get the science right
in news stories?
Coal Country
by Ian Frazier
At 12:30 in the morning of October 11, 2000, a
mountain in eastern Kentucky burst open and
let out a flood of mining waste bigger than the
Exxon Valdez oil spill. Coal sludge damaged
homes and killed everything in 20 miles of
streams. Two years later, the land is green
again but the bitterness remains.
When scientists and the media both hype a story,
it leads to misleading information CNN: Sun 'ejection' killed TV satellite
A World of Value in Einstein's Error
To Bryan Eastin, Albert Einstein's most
interesting idea may be one that was wrong.
It was 1935, and Einstein and two
colleagues were trying to make sense of the world
of quantum physics. They failed— but in such an
interesting way that physicists today still wrestle
with the questions they raised.
This is a story panelist John Fleck wrote and feels he didn't accomplish
what he set out to do. More details in the Simplifying Science round up at
A Kettle of Knowledge
VALLES CALDERA -- John Geissman bounded up the steep side of
the volcanic knoll, leaving a trail of geologists panting behind him.
A tough half-mile climb above the valley floor, in a clump of oak,
Geissman found what he was looking for -- a piece of scientific history.
On this 1,000-foot high mound of volcanic rock in the summer of
1964, geologists found the final piece of a puzzle that changed the way
we view our planet.
Geissman dropped his pack and circled a small outcrop of the rock
that nearly four decades ago proved the theory of plate tectonics -- that
the continents move beneath our feet.
This was one of John Fleck's favorite stories as a science writer - a chance to explore the
people behind a great discovery.
Factually correct science stories can be
boring if they leave out the
human element...
For Patients With Both HIV and Tuberculosis
the Timing of Drug Therapies Is Critical
ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) — In sub-Saharan Africa, tuberculosis
is the disease that most often brings people with HIV into the clinic
for treatment. Infection with both diseases is so common that in
South Africa, for instance, 70% of tuberculosis patients are HIV
positive. How best to treat these doubly infected patients-- who
number around 700,000 globally-- is the subject of a new study,
published in The New England Journal of Medicine, by scientists at
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and
CAPRISA (Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South
Wording Matters
The Cancer Chronicles
The official press release from the National
Cancer Institute said the study “confirmed that
there are four primary subtypes of breast cancer,”
implying that the classification already existed.
But the paper itself, published in Nature, said that
it “demonstrated the existence of four main breast
cancer classes.” Something was getting lost in the
A headline can ruin an otherwise correct
science story.....
From a Department of Energy news
brief:Quantum Dot Solar Cell Tops 100%
NREL researchers have demonstrated the first
solar cell capable of producing a photocurrent
with an external quantum efficiency greater
than 100%.
Panelist and Sandia engineer Greg Nielson thought this headline misleading.
NREL newsletter does better....
NREL Scientists Report First Solar Cell Producing
More Electrons In Photocurrent Than Solar Photons
Entering Cell
December 15, 2011
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable
Energy Laboratory (NREL) have reported the first solar cell that produces a
photocurrent that has an external quantum efficiency greater than 100
percent when photoexcited with photons from the high energy region of the
solar spectrum.
Stop the Presses!
Nielson shrinks solar cells to the size of
Greg Nielson pushes a small jar full of rubbing alcohol
across his desk at Sandia National Laboratories in New
Mexico. In the jar float shiny solar cells the size of glitter.
“If you have panels of these on top of Walmart, you get
twice as much power [as conventional photovoltaics] and
your costs go down by half,” he says. For the past six
years, Nielson has worked to dramatically reduce the
size of solar cells in order to make them more durable,
efficient, and cost-effective.
Misrepresentation of Randomized
Controlled Trials in Press Releases and
News Coverage: A Cohort Study
How Can Scientists
Engage with Journalists?
Doesn't hurt to get creative when explaining science.....
More Resources and Tips
Nine ways scientists can help improve science journalism
Escape from the Ivory Tower - A Guide to Making Your Science
Matter. By Nancy Baron, Island Press 2010.
ISBN 978-1-59726-664-2.
Don't Be Such a Scientist - Talking Substance in an Age of Style.
By Randy Olson. Island Press 2009. ISBN 978-1-59726-563-8.
A Scientist's Guide to Talking with the Media-A Practical Guide from
the Union of Concerned Scientists. By Richard Hayes and Daniel
Grossman. Rutgers University Press 2006.
ISBN 978-0-8135-3858-7.
Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the
Public. By Cornelia Dean. Harvard University Press 2009.
ISBN 978-0-674-03635-2.
Follow our panelists:
John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal @jfleck\fleck\
Laura Paskus, Independent Journalist @LauraPaskus
George Johnson, New York Times
Thanks for participating!

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