An investigation by Business Insider found that, "United had more pet deaths in 2016 than any other major US airline." Given United's recent public relations debacle, is this true, too? Technically yes, but statistically no. Becasue it's the statistics that matter, not the raw numbers.
Taking advantage of today's toxic, confrontational mindset are outlets like SourceWatch. The website is like a politicized, unscientific version of Wikipedia. Volunteers – rather than qualified experts – write smear articles about people and groups they don't like (one of them being us).
From telecommunications and transportation to healthcare and entertainment, cutting-edge technology serves society well. But not when it comes to food. Oh no. We don't want technology anywhere near that. Neanderthal know-how is perfectly fine, thanks. What's behind that bizarre thinking?
"Lying" is considered one of those words civilized people should never say. That's why politicians never use it. Instead, their opponents are "misinformed" or "misspeaking" or "using alternative facts." Well, the time for civility is over. Journalist -- if we can actually call him that -- Danny Hakim is lying to you. And it's not his first rodeo, either. He's built quite a track record for himself at the New York Times, publishing distorted information about GMOs and comparing agricultural pesticides to "Nazi-made sarin gas."
Why are strawberries, spinach, and 10 other nutritious fruits and vegetables killing us? Because of pesticides, says the clueless Environmental Working Group, whose mission is scaring you about perfectly safe and healthy food.
In a recent documentary, the religion scholar ate a small piece of human brains. That was inadvisable. Given the choice of good journalism or sensationalism, Dr. Aslan chose the latter. And from a health standpoint the decision carried risks.
Not only is science journalism susceptible to the same sorts of biases that afflict regular journalism, but it's uniquely vulnerable to outrageous sensationalism – this or that will either cure cancer or kill us all. So to promote good outlets while castigating the bad, we partnered with RealClearScience to create a handy chart.
Soda taxes aren't racist, yet precisely that case was made by a reporter for the newspaper. His position: Blacks and Hispanics consume more sugary beverages than whites and Asians, while whites and Asians drink more diet beverages than blacks and Hispanics. Because the tax does not apply to diet beverages, it is racist. Let's break this down.
Sometimes general assignment reporters are asked to cover complex science and health stories, which produces an entirely predictable product: Articles that are nothing more than rehashed press releases, topped with click-bait headlines based on misunderstandings of the original research. And here are some other ways it happens.
Science is one of the few institutions in America that has largely remained above the hyperpartisanship gripping our nation. However, there is a small but growing perception among Americans that scientists are becoming politically biased. Indeed, surveys have confirmed that Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in academia. And, over the last few months, the behavior of high-profile scientific journals has only served to reconfirm these perceptions of bias.
Besides deceiving readers about science policy, there are plenty of other reasons to avoid Slate. Perhaps best is that the online site loves posting contrarian articles using a time-tested formula to attract readers: Take an obviously-stupid statement and add a headline vigorously defending it. Whether the article is accurate, compelling or well-conceived is an afterthought.
2016 was a year to forget. A rough-and-tumble election, partisan rhetoric and "fake news," and the loss of many beloved and talented people -- from Prince to Carrie Fisher -- made this calendar cycle a bit more difficult than most. Surely, 2017 must have something better in store. To ensure that it does, we all must resolve to make it so. And as a science journalist, I can do my part by adopting these four resolutions. I hope other journalists join me.