Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rumors Travel At The Speed Of Light

This NY Times news article looks at how science rumors can spread like a bush wildfire on the 'net, devouring all sense of credibility and standards.

One culprit here is the Web, which was invented to foster better communication among physicists in the first place, but has proved equally adept at spreading disinformation. But another, it seems to me, is the desire for some fundamental discovery about the nature of the universe — the yearning to wake up in a new world — and a growing feeling among astronomers and physicists that we are in fact creeping up on enormous changes with the advent of things like the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva and the Kepler spacecraft.

I've mentioned this before with respect to the recent rumors of the Higgs. Even though this is only a blog and not a news source, I still refused to be suckered like other news agencies to report such rumors, especially when it came from a previously unreliable source. I mean, how many times do you have to get whacked on your head before you yell "Stop!"? Even when I'm reporting something that I've heard via 2nd hand news, such as the suicide at Fermilab, I would not have reported it had it came from someone's blog!

This is one downside of having such easy access to "information" and communications. News spread very fast without regards to accuracy. One must always keep that in mind.


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