Friday, November 29, 2013

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnd ... I Dunno!

It appears to me that science journalism is getting worse.  Everything is turning into sports punditry, because everything is sports.  And everything must be liveblogged, and there must be explanations and we have to know everything right now.  There's no room for uncertainty, because science is knowledge.

So, like, this comet, see, it approached the sun, and went around it.  And the sun is totally hot, see, so like nobody knew whether it would melt, or what.  In fact I totally thought it like fell in!  But then finally it showed up again, and what happened?  Search me!
At some point after perihelion I made a decision. I drew a line in the sand, saying I thought this was an ex-comet. But then, not long after, like Lazarus or a zombie, ISON came back from the dead...

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Comets and cats are equally predictable. It’s a losing game to be firm with them; your best move is to watch, wait, and enjoy the show while it happens. That’s my plan, for sure.
Okay, I admit I'm being a bit unfair.  If this science blogger had been more dogmatic and sure of himself, I'd have jumped him for that.  But this rambling seems so similar to the kind of coverage we get of elections, sports, OJ Simpson's white Ford Bronco, and other processes: somebody trying to fill up time (or bandwidth) when he doesn't really have anything that intelligent to say, and it's really too soon to say anything.  But somebody has to have coverage, and it's better to say something than to say nothing.  Because the whole world is watching.

This is why I stopped watching election night coverage sometime in the 1970s: it just seemed pointless to listen to these mediocrities bloviate all evening. Phil Plait may know his science, but he's a lousy writer, or like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, he's trying to sound hep and accessible, the fighting radical scientist who's not afraid to talk to the Kids in their own language.  This is supposed to get young people excited about science so they'll major in science in college and build space ships to take us to the stars, or something.

I like your science; I do not like your science writers.