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Dec 20 2012

New at Rosetta Stones: I Snark At the Media. Do Contain Your Surprise.

Back to geology for a bit: our own RQ sent me some articles that got me started on Tolbachik and the media’s fractal wrongness. One thing I’ve learned during these last years of science writing: don’t trust science writing. Really don’t trust anything you see in the popular media, and take stuff written up by actual science writers with a grain of salt (or, if you’re watching your sodium intake, salt substitute). Yes, even mine. We can be wrong sometimes. But, happily, not as often as the mainstream media, which is filled with poor innocent journalists being asked to cover breaking news about things they know nothing about. It’s like asking me to cover a soccer game. What could go wrong is hilarious and horrible to those with more expertise.

Anyway. It was nice to do up a bit of geology, and I hope it proves to be a nice breather for all of you who have spent this week alternately crying and raging. Enjoy!

5 comments

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  1. 1
    lyle

    To make the point about flank eruptions clearer, Kilauea has essentially been in a flank eruption for soon to be 20 years. That volcano only rarely erupts from the summit. Clearly the reporter had never been to the national park for the volcano. (Of course its on the big island and Oahu is the only non flyover part of Hawaii.) Or to take another example look at Mt. Etna which has a huge number of vents.

  2. 2
    rq

    :) Sweet! Thanks for setting me straight. If I ever get hired as a science writer, I’m hiring you as my volcano (and general geology) correspondent. :)

  3. 3
    Rob

    Yes, well. One of our volcanoes did a tiny wee eruption a few weeks ago. Just a bit of ash and steam really. The local paper the next day published a front page photo cartoon, despite the fact that tourists, media and scientists were crawling all over the mountain getting great shots. To add insult to injury they had an inset purporting to show a close up of volcanic ash. What it actually was was another cartoon showing lots of perfectly round dots, all exactly the same size, in three different colours (white, tan and grey). Not only incompetent reporting but unbelievably lazy as well.

    Don’t even get me started by the next days technology story.

  4. 4
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Oho, ow. Things like that are painful to read. On the other hand, we got a lovely geology and science communication article out of it.

    I’m hiring you as my volcano (and general geology) correspondent :)

    Fixed according to my preferred interpretation. :D

    1. 4.1
      rq

      Hopefully a dormant one, except when apocalypse needed. ;)

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