Sunday, July 20, 2008

Science Reporting

Here are some examples of why reporters discussing science need a background in the science they are reporting.
Instead of just reporting what the researchers said, as this author did, someone educated in epigenetic modifications, the individual could ask questions like "how were these samples supplied" and "from what cells were these samples taken." Epigenetic modification is useful for individual cells, just because certain genes are unmethylated or acetylated at one point in time and then later are methylated does not mean that the these genes are methylated in all cells. The only thing they demonstrated here is that certain genes which are unmethylated can later become methylated. This is something we've known for a very long time. The only thing to be taken from this article is that John Hopkins was wasting money. Now, what they didn't say was that we've known this for the better part of a decade. They also didn't explain what research paper this was put in, or will be put in, or if it was purely speculative.

This one completely misses the point that prions ARE understood far better than this article leads us to believe. The "replication" of prions isn't replication at all, it is auto-catalytic refolding of the normal protein into the other conformational state. Look up PrP or just check this out.

Here's a gem of an article lacks any evidence for the claims being investigated. It's about as useful as speculation only without giving the evidence that leads someone to speculate.

Please, people, if you're going to report on something, tell me what leads you to conclude these things, not just what the speculations or conclusions are.

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