5. A New Era of Contention Starts in Science
When Fred’s A Farewell to Bioinformatics rant was posted in reddit in January 2013, it was mostly criticized by the reddit readers. Even though Fred made a number of valid points, his overall attitude of ridicule seemed to have antagonized many researchers, who never experienced substantial criticism from outside. We noticed that Fred was a very bright guy and decided to post his entire set of ‘rants’ in our blog.
Fred was easily dismissed in January, but a bigger attack from an well- established scientist could not be discarded so easily. In February, Dan Graur, the author of well-followed textbook on evolutionary biology, published a paper and ridiculed a much bigger gang - the ENCODE project. ENCODE deserved every bit of scorn for making a set of made up claims in the Nature paper, and then going to media to hype up the major discovery that they did not make.
Dan Graur’s criticism exposed the true colors of some of the ‘so called scientists’ of recent era. It showed that they would rather promote a lie to get funding than tell the truth, as expected from true scientists. For example, when the ENCODE paper was published in 2012, Sean Eddy made the same points as Dan Graur in his blog. However, when Dan Graur’s paper came out, he sang a different tune. We still agree with this commentary published in April.
This mode of contention between scientists and ‘so called scientists’ continued throughout the year. The biggest examples came during the Nobel prize ceremony, where the science Nobel laureate mocked economist Nobel laureates on stage. In the same vein, an economics Nobel laureate received his award and was compelled to write a blog post defending his field as science.
Is this contentious mode a new trend? We believe so, because apparently the reporters of mainstream media started to notice the hypes in the name of science and decided to highlight them instead of taking every word from a published science paper as truth. In a recent example from December 2013, as soon as the hyped up claims from John Stamatoyannopoulos appeared in the media, Forbes published an article to de-hype.
The following commentary discussed some of the observations related to science reporting.
Which fields of science will have the most to lose in this new era of contentious reporting? We believe the closer a field is to humans, the more affected it will be from further media attention. That is a function of previous era of hypes, when the
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