Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW Periscope

A Harvard geneticist announced that he is going to produce elephant embryos with mammoth genes, and more than 60 news stories had headlines like "Woolly mammoths to walk the Earth again." John Hawks says that more than just exaggeration was involved: "Journalists who actually dug into these numbers would have to cover this story very differently.... more
Tom McNichol interviews Ron Rosenbaum about his 1971 Esquire story on an early network of hackers who built "blue boxes" to make free phone calls: "Rosenbaum’s article is the rare magazine story that not only chronicled history, it also shaped it. A tech enthusiast named Steve Wozniak read Rosenbaum’s piece, and then showed it to his friend Steve... more
About those seven Earthlike planets orbiting a nearby star: They're neither nearby nor especially Earthlike, Tabitha M. Powledge writes: "Not to denigrate the scientific achievement, which is noteworthy for its novelty and sophistication … But let’s bring a little reality to the boisterous celebration attending the revelation that astronomers have... more
If you thought Excel and similar spreadsheet managers were just tools for sorting data and doing simple arithmetic, you might learn something from this tutorial by John Wihbey and Leighton Walter Kille, who show how to get more advanced statistics like standard deviations and confidence intervals: "Quick calculations are handy, and can help you in... more
In 1945–a year when good news was clearly needed–Byron Nelson wowed and delighted by winning 11 consecutive golf tournaments. It’s the longest winning streak in professional golf. No one has come close since. This past month (a month, you could argue, that good health care news was sorely needed) I’ve been wowed and... more
HUZZAH! SEVEN “NEARBY” “HABITABLE” PLANETS! Not to denigrate the scientific achievement, which is noteworthy for its novelty and sophistication. Not to denigrate (much) the... [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
NASW's newly formed Governance Committee is looking for volunteers. The committee will work to ensure that the organization is effective, efficient, and performs to standards of due diligence. It will review the constitution and bylaws on a regular basis and recommend best practices. Article type: GovernanceArticle topic: NASW news
We often call out overly optimistic news coverage of drugs and devices. But information technology is another healthcare arena where uncritical media narratives can cause harm by raising false hopes and allowing costly and unproven investments to proceed without scrutiny. A case in point is the recent collapse of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s... more
Scientists and professionals at research institutions eager to inform the public about their work need to go where the readers or, increasingly, the viewers are. Instead of driving traffic to their websites, a panel of public information officers, editors, and journalists recommend creating science content specifically for use on Snapchat,... more
I had hoped it would be tongue-in-cheek, but Kaiser Health News and CNN very earnestly brought us a trend story this week on the apparent newfound epidemic of “post election stress disorder.” Hinging mostly on anecdotal statements and this November essay that ran in Psychology Today, the CNN story says “Mental health professionals around the... more

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