Bad Science

“Studies suggest that literally everything causes cancer”

“Are bagels killing your kids?”

“Brain scans reveal that tiny demons are to blame for ADHD”

Everyone wants to write a good headline. A catchy headline drives clicks, ad views, and thus revenue and recognition for the writer. And nothing catches the eye like a well placed scare tactic or hyperbolic generalization. But when it comes to science journalism, misleading writing can be more than a faux-pas; it can be downright dangerous. Miscommunications can propagate quickly, and it can be hard to bring people back around once they get an idea stuck in their head.

Journalists face a tough situation. As a non-expert, it can be hard to accurately understand what is happening in a scientific study. On top of that, results that sound promising at first can turn out to be rather unsensational when studied with a fair, rational eye. But writers have a responsibility to convey this information with accuracy and as little bias as possible. For this, compoundchem.com has created an infographic outlining some of the pitfalls commonly seen in science writing. It’s a great resource for both science writers and science readers alike. Some of these pitfalls are already well-known even among laymen, like the correlation/causation trap, but even if everyone knows of the pirates/global warming fable, it is an easy trap to fall into. Others are more obscure, or harder to avoid when reading casually – how can you tell if results are misinterpreted? Where do you look to find information about sample size? Nonetheless, it’s a writers job to find this information and relay it to the best of their ability.

While you can’t change the way we write and read about science single handedly, just changing your own habits can be a great first step. As a reader, try and keep a healthy balance of skepticism and curiosity, and try to check original sources when possible. As a writer, make sure you follow through on research and value accuracy the same way you value every other part of your writing process. Conscientious readers and writers make the world a better, more informed place.

Marina Keegan’s “The Opposite of Loneliness”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarl Sagan asserts that books are proof that humans can work magic. It is with this concept in mind that the story of Marina Keegan makes the most sense.

Marina was a 22 year old writer and a Yale graduate when her essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness”, was published in a special edition of the Yale Daily News. Today, “The Opposite of Loneliness” has been viewed over 1.4 million times at the Yale Daily News website. Her book, which came out this week, is published under the very same title.

Unfortunately, she will never get a chance to hold this book with her name on the spine – she died in a car crash in May, 2012. The book is a posthumous collection of her essays, short stories, and other non-fiction works. Her words live on, breaking the shackles of time, carrying her voice forward, and reminding us (as she writes in one of her poems) that “everything is so beautiful and so short”.

You can read her original essay, her book, or this moving article by her friend to find out more.

The Gap: Developing Taste into Skill

Ira Glass’ advice on creative work has been gaining momentum for months, but even if you’ve read or heard the advice before, these two gorgeous typographical videos are worth a look.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

One of the most resonant things that Glass addresses is “The Gap”. Creators usually get into their craft with a sense of taste, and a desire to be great. But beginners often forget that taste does not translate to skill right off the bat. There’s going to be a period of time, quite possibly a very long period of time, where the work does not live up to the level that your taste would dictate. It’s going to fall short.

Luckily, there’s a solution.

Unluckily, it’s a solution we’ve all heard before. It’s a solution that we avoid, because it sounds like too much work.

The solution, of course, IS work. Work hard, work often, and work until the gap looks a little less intimidating. And in the meantime, remember the gap, and don’t let it scare you into giving up.

Accepted an Internship: Here are the Do’s & Don’ts

You open your email and the first thing you see is, “congrats on landing the internship.” You jump for joy and began to prepare for an amazing summer with your dream company.

Many questions and awkward moments will come up, how you find answers and deal with these moments are critical. Hercampus.com suggests “8 things to do after accepting an Internship.” Start of by reaching out to the company online networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you haven’t done so. Also, reach out to current or former interns; they will be able to answer any questions about the position. Most importantly don’t procrastinate about making plans or responding.

Follow these tips and you’ll start your new internship with confidence!