Phil Plait’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

The Apocalypse is here.

Science writer Phil Plait’s worst nightmare came true. The Republicans won control of the U.S. Senate. What can we expect to happen? In Plait’s words, the Republicans will “put a cohort of science-deniers [sic] into positions of authority,” which “quite literally affects the future of humanity.” Why? Because, now, the United States will no longer be able to address climate change, “the single greatest threat we as a species face today.” Continue reading

20 Tips for Analyzing Claims of a Scientific Study

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

One of the big problems in science journalism is the tendency to hype scientific research. You’re familiar with the routine: A new study comes out on, say, how coffee might lead to a slight increase in a particular disease. Then, plastered all over the front pages of websites and newspapers are headlines like, “Too Much Coffee Will Kill You!” Of course, the following week, a different study will report that coffee might protect you from another disease, and the media hysteria plays out all over again, just in the opposite direction.

This is bad. Poor science journalism misleads the public and policymakers. Is there a way to prevent such hype? Continue reading