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Session 4C: “They said what?!”: Fighting bullshit in the scicomm ecosystem

Brian Switek and Carl Zimmer
Thurs, Jan 31, 4:00-5:00pm, Room 6

Description: Arsenic Life. The Artistic Kraken. An island of garbage the size of Texas floating in the Pacific. These are just a few of the recent facepalm-inducing examples of media kerfuffles spurred by bad science, bad reporting, or a combination of the two. Hardly a week goes by without a foul-up about a new scientific paper or conference talk, and the misinformation spreads far and wide thanks to syndicated reports posted by major news services. Blogs are a quick and easy way to respond to bullshit claims, but, most of the time, a post just isn’t going to bring in the same audience as a sensationalized article on the landing page of FOX News, the Daily Mail, or Yahoo! If scientists and writers want to respond to overblown claims, they need to find a prominent platform, and fast. In this session, we'll come up with tips about the best ways to quickly and effectively respond to hyperbolic news reports and bad science. Given the right tools, scientists and writers can change the news cycle. And this session will also find ways that scientists, journalists, and bloggers can assist each other in responding bullshit reports that make us all headdesk.

Julia Belluz and Steven J. Hoffman in Slate on Dr. Oz
Michael Specter on Dr. Oz in the New Yorker
Dr. Oz to launch new magazine! (i.e.., no effect of BS fight?)
"Mermaids Embodies The Rotting Carcass of Science TV" --Switek on his blog Laelaps
"The Giant Prehistoric Squid That Ate Common Sense"--Switek on a press release run amok
Annalee Newitz in io9 on Miriam Goldstein's war on the myth of the Texas-sized garbage patch
Emily Willingham on real versus fake science (a piece that influenced TED's new policy on pseudoscience) - Updated version on Forbes
Emily Willingham in Slate on the bogus link between autism and violence made after the Newtown massacre
Ed Yong in Slate on oxytocin hype
Zimmer's blog posts on arsenic life
Zimmer on TED
Zimmer on cancer-GMO link


added better link for real versus fake science.