Monday, September 12, 2005


Some news. For you!

Remember that show My Two Dads? I don't. At least, not really. It's garnered some hatred on IMDB and was associated with Paul Reiser. That's not the news. The news is that Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority went ahead and approved the creation of an embryo with three parents in the name of research toward combating mitochondrial diseases. In short

  • The researchers will first fuse sperm with an egg taken from a woman at risk of passing on a mitochondrial disease. Before the sperm and egg form an embryo, they will be transplanted into a healthy egg taken from another woman, leaving the defective mitochondria behind. The embryo can then develop as normal.

So there's that.

Also from the Guardian, there's this piece which argues against the bulk of popular scientific journalism (as in the NYTimes' Tuesday Science section,) in that, in order to presumably make the science accessible to readers who haven't ever actually taken a science course, editors and journalists tend to excise most of the useful information from the article. The author probably wrongly criticizes Humanities Graduates for their role in the dumbing down of science, but his core complaint is right on. Could scientific information, such as that in most reputable journals, be made more accessible to the person who's not into science? Sure. But to do so, one usually has to cut out most of the information that's actually useful. The job of science journalists, rather than pruners, should be to expand on what the article is saying. Most scientific journal articles tend to leave out as much presumably known information in favor of getting to the heart of the matter: the data. The job of the science journalist is to interpret this data with a strong enough scientific background to make sure what they're saying is actually what's presented, to relate it to the rest of the world so that scientific research isn't seen as something with no purpose, and to cover something other than the whole "L-tryptophan makes you sleepy" at Thanksgiving and "Chocolate is actually good for you" at Easter.

No comments: