Reporting on health care can make you wary of fad diets, Google, and excessive medical care, Julia Belluz and Sarah Kliff write: "Medical errors kill more people than car crashes or new disease outbreaks. They kill more people annually than breast cancer, AIDS, plane crashes, or drug overdoses. Depending on which estimate you use, medical errors are either the third or ninth leading cause of death in the United States." More from Beth Skwarecki.
Megan McArdle says that journalism's embrace of drama is partly to blame for that now-discredited study of same-sex marriage acceptance: "We reward people not for digging into something interesting and emerging with great questions and fresh uncertainty, but for coming away from their investigation with an outlier — something really extraordinary and unusual. When we do that, we're selecting for stories that are too frequently, well, incredible."
The powerful creativity of the 1982 Nobel Prize winner and his "magic realism" had its roots in his early reading of authors like Joyce, Faulkner, and Virginia Woolf, as well as Kafka, whose story of a man transformed into a giant insect was an epiphany for García Márquez: "It was not necessary to demonstrate facts: it was enough for the author to have written something for it to be true, with no proof other than the power of his talent and the authority of his voice."
As the National Academy of Sciences wades into the debate over gene editing research, Tabitha M. Powledge writes, genetic engineering produces another outcome that could easily become even more controversial: "Researchers say they are close to giving yeast a group of genes for making morphine, codeine, and other drugs that have been derived from the opium poppy for thousands of years. Biotechnologists could produce industrial quantities of these opioids in giant vats."
Kimberly Moynahan writes that she might dream of writing for major news media, but she has no trouble finding work elsewhere — writing white papers, museum exhibits, and copy for marketing or advertising: "It’s not all glamorous work; most of the time your name won’t even be associated with what your write. At times it may not even be 'science writing' per say. But it does one thing that freelance journalism sometimes fails to do – it pays a professional hourly rate."
The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was a story that oozed when it should have broken, as government officials misled reporters and the public, downplaying estimates of the amount of oil involved, Ben Raines writes in a look back at the calamity: "It is clear from the memo and video, and many other documents that have come to light since, that the government recognized almost immediately that the well was most likely disgorging about 4 million gallons of oil per day."