Since its inception in 2010, more than $400,000 has been awarded by NASW's Idea Grants program for projects that benefit science writing and its practitioners. Read more to see a list of all the awardees and their exciting science writing projects. Visit www.nasw.org/ideagrants2014 for the latest call for proposals due November 4, 2015.
Siri Carpenter talks to Apoorva Mandavilli about her Atlantic story on a mathematician's recovery from brain trauma, and how her friendship with the victim's wife affected her reporting: "It was really tough to figure out how to be honest about all of the things that have happened to him — and some of the things in there are very personal, like the sexual disinhibition and the aphasia and the panic attacks he’s had. I had to struggle with how much of that to include."
The odds are pretty long that Melania Trump's speech wasn't plagiarized, Tabitha M. Powledge writes, but does the rest of the world even care about that? "The Melania/Michelle event spawned posts arguing that copying the work of others is no big deal in many countries, and sometimes even encouraged. The idea that appropriating the words and work of others is sinful is a recent and specifically American invention." Also, norovirus afflicts the RNC California delegation.
Brian Trench, an Irish "researcher, evaluator, and trainer" and president of the Network for the Public Communication of Science and Technology, sounds off on the debate over the boundaries of journalism: "Some observers and practitioners limit 'science communication' to science promotion. That also remains a part of the total mix, but only a part. It is disappointing that some of our nearest neighbours think of science communication in these restrictive ways."
Geoffrey K. Pullum takes on the paragons of grammar advice, Strunk and White, and their guide The Elements of Style: "Almost every single generalization it makes about the form of sentences is false, and not just because of ignorance or mendacity: the authors simply didn't care whether their drivel was false or not … It is tragic that America's perverted and abusive love affair with it has caused it to be pressed into the hands of so many millions of undergraduates."
If you've ever been confused by the definitions of mean, median, or mode, this series of cartoons from Ben Orlin, a British math teacher, will probably just confuse you even more. Titled "Why not to trust statistics," the cartoons consist of a series of statements like "our average starting salary is $80,000 per year," followed by a graph of the data behind the statistics, showing (in this case) that one outlier severely skewed the average.
Health News Review examines stories from the Associated Press and Reuters on a new stent for treating coronary artery disease. The reviewers praise the AP version but not the Reuters story: "Its almost giddy approach to the FDA announcement belies the fact that long-term safety and efficacy data are not yet in hand. Put another way, no one yet knows if these dissolvable stents will make a practical difference in heart disease patient outcomes."
From a 1975 interview of Nora Ephron by legendary Chicago author Studs Terkel on "gender, politics, and the journalistic responsibility of ending the gaslighting of women," Maria Popova excerpts some of Ephron's thoughts: "I’ve never believed in objective journalism — and no one who is a journalist in his or her right mind does — because all writing is about selecting what you want to use. And as soon as you choose what to select, you’re not being objective."
Tabitha M. Powledge marks the end of the SciLogs blog network and quotes some of its orphans about what went wrong and what they plan to do with their blogs now: "The reason SciLogs is coming to an end is not terribly complicated. Spektrum took on this network of English-language blogs in hopes of broadening readership of its own German-language journals. Perhaps not surprisingly, the plan didn’t work. So, kaput." Also, Carl Zimmer's deep dive into his own genome.
A new study by computer scientists at two universities suggests that a majority of social media users don't bother reading most of the content they're linking to, Carli Velocci writes. Quoting study co-author Arnaud Legout: "People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper." Also, "Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting."