Friday, January 26, 2007

When science slams into the uninformed newspaper

The headline on this International Herald Tribune story about people misconstruing the research agenda of Charles Roselli is really a cheap shot.

When science slams into the uninformed blogger

Oh, the bloggers are uninformed. But if you read the article, you find that, "the news media storm reached its zenith last month, when The Sunday Times in London published an article under the headline 'Science Told: Hands Off Gay Sheep.'" Who's uninformed?

Truth be told, "the controversy spilled into the blog world, with attacks on Roselli." But look at the reactions when the problems were pointed out to the newspaper.

The authors of the Sunday Times article, Chris Gourlay and Isabel Oakeshott, referred questions to a managing editor, who they said was traveling and could not be reached.

The blogosphere, in contrast reacted like this:

Roselli and Newman were able to persuade some prominent bloggers, including Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay journalist who writes a column for, to correct postings that had uncritically quoted the Sunday Times article.

They also found an ally in the blog world: a scientist who writes under the pseudonym Emptypockets and has taken up Roselli's cause. That blogger, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said a public stand could hurt his career, said he had been cheered by the number of bloggers who dropped their opposition when presented with the facts. "As soon as you tell them this isn't real, they take it back quickly," he said.


D. said...

This article appeared on the IHT site three times in two days with minor editing differences and two different headlines:

Jan 26: "When science slams into the uninformed blogger"
Jan 25: "Of gay sheep, modern science and the perils of bad publicity"
Jan 25: "When science slams into the uninformed blogger"

I'm not sure if there's any lesson to be drawn from this factoid, other than that editing and headline writing are pretty much independent of the reporting, and that headline writers aren't particularly clueful.

Brett said...

Yes, the gay sheep headline was the one used by the NY Times, where the article first appeared.