Science Writing And Denialism: Accuracy, Clarity, Courage

So if it seemed quiet in the blogosphere this week, it may be because most of science-writing’s all-stars (plus me) were in the same room at the University of Wisconsin, talking about subjects that make many people uncomfortable: vaccination, climate change, evolution. The occasion was a conference, “Science Writing in the Age of Denial,” and the point was to get accomplished people talking about hard questions of verification, communication and belief.

Since the conference ended, there has been so much said about it online that I don’t know whether I can usefully add to the discourse. But since many of you may have missed it, I thought I’d at least offer a selection of the presentations and the commentary. (NB: There is sadly no video of the conference as yet; it is being professionally produced and may take a few weeks.)

Here’s a summary of one of the keynote presentations by biologist Sean Carroll. (He showed some fantastic short films he has worked on — next week, I’ll try to get some of them embedded, but there’s a wonky-code issue so I won’t make you wait.) And here’s a Storify of the discussion following his talk.

I was one of the live-tweeters for that talk, and discovered halfway through that the tweetstream was under a concerted spam attack. Here’s an account by NeuroDojo of what happened next.

There were thoughtful summations of the conference by Christie Aschwanden, Erin Podolak, and Kate Prengaman, who live-tweeted the journalism-ethics panel. Also, from the journalism side, Charlie Petit commented at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker at MIT.

The most thorough coverage was written and curated by John Rennie, who writes the Gleaming Retort. I’ve embedded his Storify — which is long enough to almost give you the feeling of attending the conference in real time — below.




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