Stories tagged reporting

Feb
07
2011

Mt. St. Helens erupts in 1980: Yellowstone's supervolcano has erupted with one thousand times the power of the blast pictured here.
Mt. St. Helens erupts in 1980: Yellowstone's supervolcano has erupted with one thousand times the power of the blast pictured here.Courtesy USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory
The gigantic volcano seething under Yellowstone National Park could be ready to erupt with the force of a thousand Mt. St. Helenses! Large parts of the U.S. could be buried under ash and toxic gas!

Or, y'know, not.

This story has popped up in a couple of places recently, including National Geographic's website and, more sensationally, the UK's Daily Mail. Shifts in the floor of Yellowstone's caldera indicate that magma may be pooling below the surface, a phenomenon that might be the very earliest stages of an eruption. Then again, it's difficult to predict volcanic eruptions with much accuracy because there's no good way to take measurements of phenomena happening so far below the earth's surface.

Incidentally, the contrast in tone between the two stories makes them an interesting case study in science reporting: The Daily Mail plays up the possible risk and horrific consequences of an eruption, while National Geographic is much more matter-of-fact about the remoteness of that possibility. Which do you think makes better reading?

Apr
04
2008

Fair and balanced: Or leaning to the left, as it often does.  Journalism often presents science in less-than-accurate ways.
Fair and balanced: Or leaning to the left, as it often does. Journalism often presents science in less-than-accurate ways.Courtesy nick farnhill

You'll never find any of that here! ;-) But the American Association for the Advancement of Science recently discussed how the public receives and understands science news. The situation is discouraging – there’s a lot of bad information out there, much of it the result of sloppy reporting. One of the big culprits was a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of statistics.

Meanwhile, biochemist Michael White complains about how the human desire to tell a good story often misrepresents how science really works.

Dec
08
2006

What stood out in the crowd?
What stood out in the crowd?

Well, 2006 is nearing its end and that means it's time for those always fun end of year lists. So what science discoveries, news stories, scandals, or events were the most important of 2006. Post your ideas as a comment and we will turn the list into a poll where people can vote which ones were the most groundbreaking. I 'heart' community created lists.

I'll add my suggestions as a comment, you should to.