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A selection of my recent musings. Comments welcome, but please try your best to be civil.

Fake News, Fake Physics

Posted by Nathan on May 10, 2017
Category: Physics, Science
2017 is definitely shaping up to be the year of fake news. The media moguls of the world have certainly always had plenty of political reasons to churn out dubious content, but it doesn’t seem that there has been the same kind of appetite for fanciful science journalism. That is, until social media came along.

Nowadays, websites like IFLScience have entered the scene and changed the way people absorb news about science. In the golden days of old, a leisurely browser might occasionally visit the website of their favorite publication and read whichever well-researched, curated piece of science news might have made it to the front page that day – but not any more. Since the advent of facebook and twitter, media outlets desperately compete with one another to be the first to break a story into your newsfeed, with seemingly little regard for the quality of content, as long as they are getting likes and shares. Many of the large newspapers and websites now expect an entire article to be written in less than 3 hours from the time a press release hits the net, meaning there is little time for interviews, research and corroboration.

Websites like Eurekalert, where many journalists pick up new stories (you need a special login to see them), aim to partially curb this behavior by placing an embargo on press releases, meaning that journalists have plenty of time to conduct interviews and do due diligence beforehand, since they can only publish a story after the allotted time has elapsed. The problem is, not enough outlets use Eurekalert or Journalists still don’t have enough time to do thorough research – many science-based articles seem to be the press releases simply

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