Saturday, November 29, 2014

IFL Science



A few of my FB friends post articles from I Fucking Love Science from time-to-time.  They are among my brighter friends…

Oh. Yes. I don’t mind putting that title in the body of this post so much – it’s irritating but not enormously, as the word has become milder than my 60-year-old ears tell me, and I get that – but I didn’t want it in the title because of how it might show up in your sidebars if I am on your blogroll. I have standards.  Low, but I’ve got some.

…where was I?  Brighter friends.  I wrote that without irony. I have liked most of the articles, and enjoyed much of what I have seen, including what I have clicked through to once there as well.  Three articles in a short time-frame alerted my suspicions, however, and I went over to scope out the whole site.

You can go better places to get your brief science news.  That’s the main take-away.

Most of the articles are interesting and seem based on reputable sources.  So far so good.  I note 5 problems.

  1. There are errors, which look like they stem from science-y writers who either don’t fully get key points of the information they are passing on, or don’t do their homework. One I picked up myself, and I am not a scientist; two others I learned from the comments had made fairly substantial errors which I confirmed by going back to read closely (one I had to research further to assure myself that it wasn’t the commenter who had erred.)
  2. Worse, the errors were not corrected even when reported in the comments.
  3. This is not top-shelf stuff, generally. Not cutting edge, nor reviewed with a cold eye as to whether any of this is absolutely solid. It holds to higher standards than say, Omni, but it tends that way. More like Discover, but with only half the political correctness.
  4. There are a few articles which are not strictly science, but “news about the science tribe” PR pieces.  Neil Degrasse Tyson speaking to children about being a scientist, for example.  Not terrible, and no one is forcing the reader to click through, but I think it’s a giveaway as to what is up.  There’s a hint of snob appeal without asking too much of the reader.  There’s an in-the-club nudge-nudge aspect to it I don’t like.
  5. I found one headline that was a misreperesentation of the article – and the article made overclaims as well – on a science in politics topic. I worried I would find more (I thought I realled a previous one, actually), but it was only that one.

All that said, it’s not terrible.  Just a little too concerned about being hip rather than good.

14 comments:

james said...

There were complaints (I can't say how justified) that the site was hosting other people's work without permission, thereby getting traffic and ad revenue without compensating the people who actually created the images. I haven't heard the upshot though.
The same article also beefed about the Tyson adulation being reported as science news.

I generally go to several different sites: http://scitechdaily.com/ , http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/blog/not-exactly-rocket-science/ (seems to have a bee in his bonnet about women in science) , http://www.newscientist.com/ (hard to use without a subscription, though) , http://www.realclearscience.com/ , and a few individuals (Dorigo, Woit, Motl, Cagle, Jester)

The individuals tend to be a lot more focused, but also a lot more reliable wrt getting the story right. (They also sometimes write about politics or religion, and I decline to vouch for their reliability in such fields.)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yours was one of the comments I was hoping for.

james said...

Thank you. Click on the Jester link :-)

bs king said...

Maddox agrees with you:

http://thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=youre_not_a_nerd

bs king said...

Also, it's the science version of this really:

http://xkcd.com/863/

Earl Wajenberg said...

I recommend:

sciencedaily.com (comprehensive science news)
sciencenews.org
newscientist.com (British)
discovermagazine.com
nature.com/news (Nature Magazine)
news.sciencemag.org (Science Magazine, from AAAS)
phys.org for strictly physical science
space.com for space news
apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html for NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I loved James and I admired Earl's OCD thoroughness, but Bethany's links might be the two best provided to this blog this year.

Sam L. said...

Being hip always trumps being good, for popularity. Not for accuracy, of course.

Texan99 said...

I look forward to the Saturday linkfests from Not Exactly Rocket Science. You're right, Ed Yong does have a bee in his bonnet about women in science, and a handful of other trendy topics like global warming, but the links are usually good.

All you need to know about the IFLS site is right there in the name. Can you imagine who would visit a "I F**ing Love Shakespeare" site? (It probably would feature articles by Neil deGrasse Tyson called "My Favorite Elizabethan Monarch.")

Dubbahdee said...

Omni. lol.

I still have a stack of Omni magazines. If memory serves, at least the first 2 years or so.

I felt very ahead of the curve when the movie "Alien" came out. I recognized the design from the artwork in Omni by H.R.Giger.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Omni was the classic "where's the beef?' magazine. The cover would promise so many interesting things, but the articles were based on so little science.

Like Bullwinkle, I kept thinking "This time for sure!" Only to be disappointed.

panjoomby said...

yikes, i had a subscription to Omni, too! 1979-80-81-ish. & yes, it was better marketed than written!

OT: from a general psychiatric perspective of behavioral de-escalation vs. police requirements to enforce law, you might like the last half of the following blog post & the comments by "cro" https://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/strategizing-horror/#comments

if not, feel free to delete - i'm not trolling - i actually thought of you when i read ed realist's insightful piece - it's better than Omni, i promise:)

Texan99 said...

You're right, Bethany's 2 links are gold.

Jeannette said...

I have only been exposed to IFLS by links a few FB associations have chosen to post. I have never liked any of them. I think the title is very revealing. Science and mathematics are beautiful.
Language is beautiful. Would you be drawn to a site that called it self, " I f..... love beauty" ? The title is a large clue that trendy, easily swallowed scientism tidbits will be served up with little discrimination.

Glad other readers here have other and better resources to offer.