Worse Science Writer of the Year: The Danger of Distinguished Writers Distorting Science
Posted Dec 14 2009 7:43pm
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof got slapped with "Worse Science Writer of the Year" by STATS, the non-profit, independent organization that takes scientific inaccuracy seriously.
Kristof is proof that bad science comes from good, even great journalists.
I wrote about Kristof's "Chemicals in Our Food, Our Bodies" - the column in which he scared parents silly with talk of carcinogenic effects and endocrine-disruption, in other words, our old chemical aquaintance, bisphenol A (BPA). The award-winning journalist even declared BPA frightened him more than warlords and tarantulas. The fear-mongering continued in Is That a Plastic Bottle You're Drinking From on his blog at The New York Times (On the Ground). The cherry-picked evidence and pseudo science so irritated me I posted a comment on his blog. His more recent Cancer From the Kitchen? targeted BPA along with other chemical co-conspirators, named (pesticides, P.C.B.s) and unnamed (phthalates). It contained perhaps even more inaccurate information than the first column. It's a slippery slope for journalists slipping by with little scientific expertise.
Read Trevor Butterworth's indictment of Kristof - but beware the extent of Kristof's crappy chemical coverage. Incredibly, Kristof reports cancer rates among women are climbing despite recent evidence to the contrary courteous of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
Were the fact-checkers too busy tweeting to check these incontrovertible cancer rates?