Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Don't Dumb Me Down

Ben Goldacre, Sept 13, 2005

The author characterizes three types of bad science writing in traditional media: wacky stories, scare stories and breakthrough stories. He should have added a fourth, in my view: commercial messages disguised as science stories. According to this article, the proliferation of bad scientific writing is a result of the resistance from descendents of the Romantic movement, people who feel "everything in science is tenuous, contradictory and, most ridiculously, 'hard to understand'." And it is these same people who are responsible for writing, editing and approving copy; "You can be sure that at least one person in any given 'science communication' chain is just juggling words about on a page, without having the first clue what they mean." Much the same reasoning could be applied to education writing, I think, which is why publications like this one will always have a future: written from the inside of the profession, unedited by word jugglers, and most of all, not afraid to be obscure.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Nov 27, 2020 09:20 a.m.