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The Science Reporter: Who is ultimately responsible for reporting significant findings to the public?

Are science reporters like other reporters? Reporters are suppose to be objective and independently investigate stories that are of public interest. They are generally proactive and go after the story rather than having the story come to them. They are also knowledgable enough to present the dynamics and content of a story to the public. Who is ultimately responsible for reporting significant scientific findings to the public when science reporters are unable to act as other reporters?

  • Feb 5 2013: You seem to be ignoring the peer revue process. Serious science is reported in scientific journals. It is the responsibility of the scientist, or institution, to submit the discovery to this process. Scientists that avoid peer revue should not be taken seriously. Another part of the scientific method is repetition. Other scientists must be able to repeat the original experiment and obtain the same results. This is not always done, and when it is done it can take considerable time, so it may be months or years after the original results have been reported to the public.

    If you are asking who is responsible for explaining science to the public, in terms that the public can understand, that seems to be a matter of opinion. IMO, that is the responsibility of the scientific community and of each and every scientist. Some of them either do not agree with this opinion or just choose to ignore that aspect of their work.

    The scientific reporter certainly has a responsibility to report fraud when there is evidence for it, but most scientific reporters are not trained scientists and do not have the qualifications to detect scientific fraud.

    Perhaps your question needs further explaining. I do not understand why a scientific reporter would be unable to act as other reporters act.
  • Feb 12 2013: Comedy Interview:

    Science Reporter (SR) and Stephen Hawking (SH)

    SR: It’s my pleasure to introduce the most well known scientist on the planet. Stephen Hawking. Who is considered by many to be the next Einstein. I really don’t know what he did to be considered that, so lets get to the point. You’re here to sell a book, “The Grand Design”.

    SH: Yes.

    SR: I don’t wanna go down the religious road. I wanna take a slight detour. Was this part of, “The Grand Design”?

    Is this why String Theory is the final theory? Or maybe it’s the money?

    SH: Confused - No response

    You’re gonna be working in a nest fulla String Theorist. Can we put a number on lucrative? No no that’s too personal, sorry. So you sold out and cashed in. Politics, politics, politics….the interview’s over Einstein.

    Chief Editor to Science Reporter.

    SR: He should have defended himself.

    CE: What the &*^%? You don’t wing it with this guy. He needs time to prepare his response. You idiot, you’re fired.
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    Feb 12 2013: This is an impressive research paper. You should be understandably pleased by what you've accompished with it. I might ask "Why did it take you so long to disclose it?" I see that others have asked about your research. This certainly frames this whole conversation in a different light. Long ago I was reminded by an artist that art is never created for the purpose of becoming famous or rich. Van Gogh paintings comes to mind. So, don't worry about what others think, continue to do what interests you.
    Be Wishes.

    A classical wave function is presented as an interface between a gravitational and an electromagnetic field. Binary star precessions are calculated as a best test for the most important interface in physics. Among the ten most difficult systems tested are DI Herculis, V541 Cygni and AS Camelopardalis. These systems have observed precessions which are not consistent with theoretical predictions. The precession results based on the classical wave function prove there is a fundamental relationship between Newtonian mechanics, general relativity and quantum mechanics.
    • Feb 12 2013: Disclosing my research makes little or no difference with respect to TED. My research was fully disclosed to the public overseas by Anne Astronomy News.

      The link you posted is a publication that was extend from the original because at least two papers were published after my research appeared. These publications were confirming my research conclusions. Both were high profile topics published in Nature. Nature rejected my paper based on topic interest but published those papers. Once you get beyond the money and fame, it is about ethics and honesty. The Fundamental Physics Prize was given to individuals for trying to do what I did. So, I will enter that competition as a form of documentation. I am confident I will lose but winning is not the point. My research has fundamental applications for new technologies. The engineering community is going to put that paper to through other test. I am confident it will pass and then we will talk about the reality of the Fundamental Physics Prize, and what it means to be a winner and a loser.
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    Feb 11 2013: I am enrolled in an online course that is offered by the Santa Fe Institue on Complexity.
    This is one of the guest lectures.

    Be the science writer, here is the question : How would we make the information Krakauer and Mitchell are discussing available to the public?
    • Feb 12 2013: The answers is both simple and hard. I watched the video and complexity is a powerful idea. These individuals have professorships and a university behind them. That actually does most of the work.

      The public doesn't really care about ideas, they want applications. Collaborating with others in the university is hard because they are all competing for limited research dollars and job security across disciplines.

      Collaborate with companies that are using the same ideas in applications. New applications is the hard part but once you have that, you have the money, the public and a potential product. The company of course has to be big enough for R&D or you spin off a company. Many professors do that but it's hard.

      The interviewer/reporter did a good job.
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    Feb 11 2013: Re: the author of "Science on the Fringe"
    Is there such a book? Who is the author? More importantly, who is John Carter, are you referring to the science fiction character from Mars? I ask these questions because I have taken the time to look them up and found no thread that would lead me to understand what you are referring to.

    Personally, I do not include a "science teacher" as being a part of the science community unless you are at a college level. You are a part of the educational community.

    It seems you have an ax to grind with someone but it remains a mystery just what it is you are talking about. This is certainly a forum where you could discuss your own "research," but instead of doing so, you have embarked on a confusing diatribe against science writers.

    So one final question. what is the topic of your research?
    • Feb 11 2013: Correction: The book is "Physics on the Fringe". When you speak the truth everyone thinks you have an axe to grind. Did Einstein have an axe to grind when he refused to accept the modern version of quantum mechanics? You are entitled to your opinion not to include science teachers as a part of the science community. College level professors are also part of the educational community. I am a trained mechanical engineer as well. The motion of binary stars have a quantum structure. This is the topic of my research, successful research, I might add. If a String Theorist reads my work, they immediately have an axe to grind. And we all know why.
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    Feb 11 2013: Re: "Reporters are suppose to be objective and independently investigate stories.."

    You seem to be confusing a "reporter" with an investigative journalist.
    Am I correct to observe that you are not a part of the science community?

    My suggestion is that you read the book "The End of Science" by John Horgan.

    "As a staff writer for Scientific American, John Horgan has a window on contemporary science unsurpassed in all the world. Who else routinely interviews the likes of Lynn Margulis, Roger Penrose, Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn, Chris Langton, Karl Popper, Steven Weinberg, and E. O. Wilson, with the freedom to probe their innermost thoughts? This is the secret fear that Horgan pursues throughout this remarkable book: Have the big questions all been answered? Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known? Will there be a final "theory of everything" that signals the end? Is the age of great discoveries behind us? Is science today reduced to mere puzzle solving and adding details to existing theories?"
    • Feb 11 2013: Yes, I am part of the science community. I am a teacher whose role is not only to support the creative minds of the future but to show them that the answers to the questions below are all "NO". We believed the answer to all those questions was "yes" before the turn of the last century and we discovered phenomena that made us think again. Einstein's creative genius lit the way. Now we are are faced with new phenomena which as not been answered by the individuals who John Horgan routinely interviews or their followers. John Horgan has never in his life interviewed a creative genius. Science reports are not investigative journalist but they are the front line for protecting the credibility of science as it is articulated to the public. Instead they appear to be simply mouth pieces for the science community and has little ability to present the story objectively.

      John Horgan did an interview with the author of "Science on the Fringe" and they made fun of John Carter. They put him on display as a crack pot. I really don't know what he is but they used him to degrade the work of independent researchers who do not have access to the federal funds that their tax dollars go to for research. I challenge John Horgan and any science reporter to interview me concerning my research. Of course they would refuse because they are there to sell books and papers and sensationalize science. Any story, no matter how important, if it does not fit that mold they are unavailable.

      Religion vs. Science. Crack Pots. Multiple Universes and dead end scientific investigations. That's their game so no wonder they think this is "The End of Science". When media budgets are cut, its just the end of a science reporter's job spent too much time making him/herself irrelevant in the world of reporting.
  • Feb 7 2013: The e-Print archive and MO (Math Overflow) are where the highest concentrations of experts in mathematics and physics exist. A science reporter who is really interested in what is going to be published in a peer reviewed journal can go to these places.

    MO is a good place for mathematical research questions. It is better to answer questions than to ask them because asking a question brings out the worst. Ex. Mathematicians published an article in nature on the existence of wave functions. I used the paper in a question as a test to see how they would respond. They said the paper was riddled with errors and no one in the field takes it serious. This is a potential peer-reviewer. Only one person defended the paper and called the comments irresponsible. The question was immediately closed. The paper was correct and presented with another paper as an attack proof response to the 3-body problem and it worked because they could not close the question. How do you close the 3-Body question? You cannot close one of the most important mathematical questions. e-Print archive is the most controlled publishing site. You can never publish frequently enough through the peer review process to be competitive with your peers so without the arXiv you are finished as a professor. You have to be endorsed to post and not everyone can endorse. An endorser can be blacklisted if they endorse the wrong person. Who is the wrong person? Your competition. That's fraud and these are the people who peer-review peoples papers and take the public's money. These are the individuals who tell you to cite other peoples research or you don't get published in the journals. That is fraud, if you did not use those peoples research.

    We need science reporters to stop this garbage.
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    Feb 6 2013: Might I ask- was your paper not reviewed at all by the journals to which you submitted it, or did you receive constructive comment from reviewers?
  • Feb 6 2013: Russian mathematicians were doing really good work during the 80's and we only found out about it after the collapse. With this in mind you can not assume that people in the scientific community are more informed than the general public as to what has been accomplished. Science reporters and magazines serve as highlighters for the scientific community and the general public because scientist are part of the public. Scientist do not read every scientific journal. They read the ones with the big impact factors.

    "Discovered Independently" is sometimes true and then other times it is an attempt to take credit for somebody's work which was published in a journal with a smaller impact factor.
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    Feb 6 2013: I think there are many publications that are public yet mostly known within the scientific industry. These publications are obviously written with scientific terminology and lexicon which renders it unrelatable to the mass audience that might very well be interested in scientific findings and discoveries.

    I'm sure there are cool blogs out there with simplified information of current scientific publications, but I currently know none. Ultimately, the information that does reach the large public communication outlets might already be old news in the scientific community.
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      Feb 6 2013: My son is a great fan of Science Daily, free online or delivered daily in email.
  • Feb 5 2013: The question is very clear. The large scale scientific frauds were committed by individuals, research teams and institutions that had gone though the peer review process. You are under the assumption that everyone is peer-reviewed who is published in a peer reviewed journal. A professor at MIT, Harvard, Princeton and the other elite universities are not evaluated the same way as other individuals, research teams and institutions. The brand name is enough to clear the peer review hurdle. The hurdle is actually for everyone else. Repeating an experiment is not practical if the experiments are expensive. Who is going to check the LHC by repeating an experiment independently?

    I am not asking who is responsible for explaining science to the public! That is a very general question that usually leads to insulting the public's intelligence. The public knows how to define significant.

    Maybe science reporters don't act like reporters because they are not treated like reporters. When media cuts budgets the science reporters are the first to go.

    If science reporters are not trained scientist, maybe they should be and employed to investigate research where public funds are being used. Make you think twice about taking public money in the form of grants.
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      Feb 5 2013: Do you have evidence for your claim that submissions by scientists from elite institutions are not subjected to serious peer review?

      Are there not several thousand people from hundreds of institutions checking the LHC data?

      It sounds like there is some serious scientific result you think is being suppressed. If so, what is it?

      Or is your issue that too many scientists are still willing to consider the possibility that string theory might be correct or might become testable?
      • Feb 6 2013: Read this article Fritzie:

        This is just research where data is involved imagine where there is not real data to be manipulated. This does take place if there is real peer-review process. In the article, the Chief Editor cited trust in how papers are peer reviewed. It is easy to trust someone from an elite university.

        The LHC data is no different. It really comes down to trust. It is not the number of institutions but do these institutions work independently. Fermi Lab and the LHC use the same scientist.

        Suppression and research fraud occurs when there is a financial incentive to do so. There is enough financial incentive in big science to commit fraud and manipulate data so it is done. It all comes down to grants or public money.

        What is valid in science is not determined by the hopes and dreams of one or one million scientist. It is validated by experiment. We don't have to wait for String Theory to be tested. Once the correct, answer is presented to the public String Theory is finished. They were finished when they failed to describe the strong force 40 years ago. They'll just move on to a strong theory of medicine. They're survivors, that's what they do. It's a form of intellectual fraud.
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      Feb 6 2013: I have read the study from which that was reported and did some follow up research into the numbers. That revealed that the amount of fraud was actually miniscule and consisted largely of multiple papers from a single lab. This is precisely where popular writing related to science goes wrong. If you don't dig more deeply you get entirely the wrong impression.

      Many real scientists doubt for a variety of reasons that string theory is correct and many think too many resources are used for those theorists. This is quite distinct from the LHC, which is not established to test string theory but to go beyond the standard model.

      You wrote that Fermilab and the LHC use the same scientist, which I know is a typo. There are thousands of scientists involved from hundreds of institutions. The schools work separately on the data and then post results for common review to the other schools in the experiment to which they are assigned.

      There are two separate experiments and no communication of results between the two until a couple of days before status reports go public.

      These processes are all about a giant amount of cross checking of results generated independently.

      This information about their process is surely available on the website for the LHC. I do not know about Fermilab.
      In terms of how peer review works for journals, papers are reviewed by multiple people in the field, who remain anonymous to the person who wrote the article. Integrity is a big deal in science.
      Do you have recent training in physics or work in physics? You refered to a theory that has been suppressed. What might that be.
      • Feb 6 2013: The biggest frauds have little to do with what this study is addressing.
        When a researcher puts his/her name on an article that he/she had little or no participation in then that's fraud. How can a person have partial authorship on 25 papers in one year?

        When a science journal's advisory board is stacked with individuals who are associated with one or two institutions. What is the chances they will reject research from their institution for publication or individuals who share a common research goal. Once published they simply cite each others work. Increased citations inflate the impact factor. That increases readership and revenue. The public is paying to read work they funded. Come on.

        CERN was developed mainly to bring researchers back to Europe after WWII. The brain drain of WWII made the USA the center for learning. The LHC is mainly a research jobs program because it's part of CERN.

        Fermilab has a more practical history and was not going to be given the freedom to just employ if there was no real success related to what they talked about. That is why the USA wanted no part of building the LHC in the USA.

        String Theory is not worth a real discussion that is why their funding got eliminated in Europe.
      • Feb 6 2013: Peer reviews are not always blind. Astronomy journals have a lot of transparent peer review. I am a mathematics and physics teacher. I am a trained mechanical engineer. My work is not suppressed, It was published in a peer reviewed journal, conferenced and it was published on an astronomy news website. This all occurred outside the USA, but now it is in the USA. " What might that be?" Well posting my work is called spamming.

        Mathematicians call it the "Three Body Problem". I proved solvability is not based on the number of bodies in the system but the state and representation of space. I proved under real conditions Two Body systems are also unsolvable. Two papers, one in mathematics and the other in Astronomy confirms my conclusions. I will post those if you are interested because that is not considered spamming. I don't expect string theorist to highlight my work no more than Godel expected Hilbert to highlight his work. Godel's work destroyed Hibert's program and I'll do the same for String Theory.
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          Feb 6 2013: Congratulations on your publication overseas. In terms of spamming, I suppose what matters is where you post it. There are places where one can post papers and places that have other purposes and might consider it spamming.

          The astronomy news website clearly welcomed it. A site that posts economics articles, spiritual articles, or no articles at all wouldn't welcome it.

          I think people do post links sometimes to their work if that work connects to a thread under discussion. In your case, I don't often see people in TED Conversations who would likely understand the work you describe. Most people here, I think, have some science background or perhaps the Deepak Chopra sort of thing. This doesn't sound right for your work.

          Have you tried places with a large concentration of people with serious training in/understanding of mathematics and physics?
  • Feb 5 2013: When an institution issues a press release or any other report, that institution is communicating that representation or misrepresentation. This is also internal reporting which can hardly be considered objective and independent. That is why I am pointing to the role of The Science Reporter as a reporter. Scientific fraud is rarely reported by the institutions who are committing the fraud.
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      Feb 5 2013: As Barry writes, peer review is an important check on scientific information, as is the standard that results need to be able to be replicated in order to be credible.

      We have had threads here before that reveal that the amount of scientific fraud is miniscule, with most cases typically coming from a single, or a couple of labs, with repeat offenders.

      Work that has not been through the peer review process, where peers are actual scientists in the field at hand, should not be considered credible until it has gone through such review.

      Part of the confusion arises in this area because there are people who would want to be considered scientists who make wild claims that then make the lay public doubt the reliability of any scientific information, regardless of its source.

      When someone who is not trained and working as a scientist makes a confident claim about what research says in a branch of science, it is best to take it with a large grain of salt, even if it is a reported in the popular press.
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    Feb 5 2013: Reporting in this area comes from many sources, as reporting does in many areas. Research institutions have press conferences, public relations/information parts of their operations, and updates on their webpages. Universities do the same and offer lectures to the public.
    Major funding sources, such as NSF, NIH, and DOE do as well.
    Major findings are communicated via press conferences. And, as you say, the public's great interest in science information drives a giant amount of reporting on television, radio, websites, blogs, and popular writing.

    Some of what is communicated is an accurate representation of scientific findings, and it is useful to know whose account is a reliable representation, because much of what is communicated is an incorrect understanding of what scientists believe they have found or misleading..
  • Feb 5 2013: I think you are confusing "free market" with "free press".
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    Feb 5 2013: Q: Who is responsible to cut your hair? A: You are, or anyone you choose to pay to do it is. No one is responsible to report anything. News people report for profit. It is a business, a career.