Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Probably a Good Speech, but Unfortunately, Not-So-Good Reporting

Today is just not a very good day for journalism, or maybe I'm just ornery and picking on them. I earlier mentioned the very bad application of physics by a journalist in analyzing Barack Obama policatical campaign. This, I believe, is new report off a college newspaper from Oklahoma State University. This student report (I presume) is reporting on a speech given by Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek.

I suppose it could be forgiven that this is nothing more than a college newspaper. Still, it reflects very badly that the person doing the reporting is not well-versed in basic, simple science. This would imply that this person also probably didn't quite get what Wilczek was also presenting.

An obvious error would be in this passage:

More than 20 years ago, scientists discovered molecules that changed how they understand the basic materials for life, a 2004 Nobel Laureate recipient said Tuesday.

Dr. Frank Wilczek said quarks and gluons, the molecules discovered, are smaller than electrons and protons.

I seriously doubt that Wilczek would call "quarks and gluons" as "molecules". The fact that this reporter doesn't know what a "molecule" is, is actually quite sad. It reminded me of the survey a while back of the basic science knowledge of the average American, and it was appalling. I'm sure many of them didn't know what a "molecule" was either.

Of course, the other hilarious statement from this report was:

Wilczek is trying to rearrange the formulas to find better ways of understanding physics, he said.

Really now! Is that how theorists come up with new ideas or try to explain existing phenomena? By rearranging formulas?

OK, OK.. I'll stop making fun of this person. Still, in the interest of quality and accuracy, they should have put someone who at least had a year of chemistry to report something like this. Or better yet, get one of the physics undergraduates to write thsi report. They have to eventually learn how to write properly anyway.


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