“The New York Times is a joke” – claims “science and health” writer

Science news? A lot of stories seem to be just recycled press releases. Scholarship isn't all about what kind of hat you wear. and more about turtles, newspapers and scientists drinking sugar.

Science news? A lot of stories seem to be just recycled press releases. Scholarship isn't all about what kind of hat you wear. and more about turtles, newspapers and scientists drinking sugar. On 5 March 2017, Alex Berezow wrote an infographic-based article, called “The Best And Worst Science News Sites” for the so-called “American Council on Science and Health.”

Berezow claims to hear the question “How do I know if a news story is fake?” a lot.  Well, I didn’t ask him.  Did you?

In order to answer that question, the so-called “acsh”, and another “science news” site, allegedly “teamed up” to make an infographic.  The infographic focuses on British and American news sites that can be read for free online.

 

The New York Times is on toward the bad side of the list.  The reason?  Berezow links to his own 2-year-old article on the other “science news” website, where he points to a handful of stories he finds dubious and says that the New York Times “Should Seriously not consider writing about science anymore.”

His main beef seems to be with the New York Times’ sources.

“The most recent example of NYT malfeasance comes in an article that cites Jospeh [sic] Mercola — an anti-vaxxer, a quack purveyor of fraudulent alternative “remedies,” and a Dr. Oz groupie — as a source for a story…”

But, perhaps it’s not the source, perhaps Berezow just really likes cellphones.

Cell phones do not and cannot cause cancer. As Michael Shermer explains, the photons involved in telecommunications are of insufficient energy to break chemical bonds, which is necessary for them to cause cancer.

What about the photons involved in tobacco?  The signals are only one element of the phone.  And, even if there were no risk yet proven, and if there were no “unique” risk, that wouldn’t mean there is definitely no risk.  Perhaps wearing headphones to listen to music on the radio also poses a risk.  There is more than one way to skin a cat.

However, I’m no fan of the New York Times either.  I also generally would place most news sources in about the same place as Berezow did.  What bugs me most about Berezow’s article is that he puts The Economist and The Atlantic on the trustworthy side of the graph.  Has he read those?

Berezow concludes that “too many of the NYT’s science articles take a pro-fearmongering, anti-technology viewpoint that is buttressed with dubious research.”  So, what’s his real grievance?  The quality of the research, or a viewpoint he disagrees with?

How do you separate fact from viewpoint?  The “acsh” have a suggested list, but while it starts out sounding okay, it looks more like a rant.

As Nancy Grace said in the comments of the companion site: “I was extremely disappointed in the methodology presented for this study.”

I’m not sure there was a methodology.

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