Someone alerted me to this article – and I was delighted, of course:

While social media might feel at times like it is all about food, fashion and celebrities, there can be much more to it than that. You can transform your feeds into places of scientific discovery, if you just follow the right people.

WIRED has put together a list of the best scientists to follow on Twitter and Instagram to make your feeds more informed places.

The article then lists 11 blogs and includes mine!!! Here is the short entry about it:

Edzard Ernst

Chair in Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, Ernst has studied the evidence, or lack of, towards alternative medicine for 25 years. “My goal is to provide objective evidence and reliable information,” he says on his blog. “This ambition did not endear me to many believers in alternative medicine.” Follow him for strong opinions (based on facts) and heated arguments.

Such praise is great!

But I must not forget that I also get criticism – lots of it.

Often I am accused of no posting balanced views. This is not scientific, my detractors claim.

I do think about criticism quite a bit – some of it is justified, of course, but this particular point puzzles me.

Let me explain.

A blog is very different from a scientific paper. A blog is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” When I write a blog, I am trying to be a decent journalist.

A scientific paper is “is a written and published report describing original research results.” When I write a scientific paper, I am trying to be a decent scientist.

I have published plenty of blog-posts and even more scientific articles; when I do a scientific paper, I aim at being balanced, objective, cautious, systematic, etc. I (typically together with several co-authors) work on such an article for months, revise and re-revise it many times. I get it peer-reviewed and change it according to the ideas of the peer-reviewers.

Hardly any of this happens when I write a blog. It is done quickly in hours, not months, it therefore might even contain a few errors (for which I apologise), it is often aimed at provoking discussions and debates, it uses language that I would not dream of employing in a scientific paper. My blog-posts are rarely aimed at expressing a balanced view; they are mostly about my spontaneous criticism of, or amazement about something I came across in the last day or so.

While all of this is totally obvious to me, I now realise that it is not nearly as clear to those who are novices to science and research, or those who never have read or published a scientific article. So, let’s be clear: if you want to criticise my posts, please do so – I always try to learn from constructive criticism. But please try to understand that this blog is not the place where I publish scientific papers. Please avoid criticising a banana for failing to taste like an orange.


6 Responses to This blog may not be what you think it is

  • I’ve often felt puzzled that David Attenborugh’s series, and similar, steadfastly refuse to incorporate other, contradictory, views as balance.
    After all, not everybody believes in Evolution, or that the Earth is round (roughly).

    • @Barrie Lee ‘Wellness’ Thorpe

      Why not simply present all of the looney alternative “facts” out there, right?

      Really? 🙂

      News flash: It is a science show and it is presenting FACTS about nature.

      Beliefs and facts are two different things. Facts exist independently of beliefs. You can believe that the Earth is flat, but the fact is, it is not :). It will not become flat no matter how much you believe in it. Unless some random cosmic event blows it into pieces and the remaining debris somehow form a “flat disk”. But then it won’t be the planet Earth anymore. So flat Earth is a very outdated nonsense and we can prove it – just like the Evolution. So why would somebody like David Attenborugh, Brian Cox, Jim Al-Khalili … want to present the disproven theories as a sort of a “balancing view” (as you call and whatever that means) and not treat them as part of history – explanations from a time where we did not know any better… But quite amusing cup of morning coffee I must say :D.

      “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

      Daniel Patrick Moynihan

      • Well said, Amanda, but I think Barrie Lee ‘Wellness’ Thorpe was being just a touch ironic in his comment. There’s a clue to his sense of irony in the way he adds the absurd term ‘wellness’ to his name.

        Take a look at his other posts: he’s very much on your side!

  • Congrats
    I would be really interesting to see how many new followers you gain over the next 48hours or so.

  • Kudos!

  • Being recognized by Wired is evidence you have your finger on the zeitgeist…


    CG DVM

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