Monday, November 3, 2008

She is being a hypocrite

Over the weekend a brouhaha has begun over the NEJM article that was well publicized in the mainstream media. I am no epidemiologist and it has been a few years since I was actively involved in developmental cardiology as a research topic so I am even more removed from cardiac rthyms. I have little to say about the validity of the findings. I am more interested in discussing how science should / should not be discussed, appropriate forms of criticisms as well as the overall immaturity / maturity of scientists. Dr. Isis discussed her opinion of the paper in her normal witty, sarcastic and disrespectful manner. Yes disrespectful. I personally did not take offense to her tone or manner, as I said in the comments. But I also do not take offense at SNL, the Daily show, The Colbert Report or even Mac commercials. Others do take offense, and as DrdrA pointed out, this is an international forum with multiple cultures that have a variety standards of what is or is not correct behaviour.

If Dr.Isis would like to critique scientific journals using a statirical take on it, she totally should because she is rather funny. BUT (you knew their had to be a but) then she is going to have to expect (1) comments that she may few snarky (2) realize that she is NOT modelling the behaviour she herself demanded and (3) understand that just like she doesn't always find her colleagues funny not everyone finds her funny.

I would also like to point out that the authors have made it very very clear that they do not have a problem with individuals / blogs discussing they report, they had an issue with the tone of the original post. Which brings me to CPP, what the hell is the point of name calling on a post that was meant to be a scientific discussio of the findings? If you want to name call, go do it on the original post. Seriously, you are an intelligent individual and by reducing yourself to the standards of my monkey, you are no better then the sick fuck republicans that you hate so much. Dialogue is so important if we are going to move forward on a variety of issues facing us. Can we grow up just a bit?

The biggest issue of all that has come out of this is how the mass media protrays researcher articles / letters. Jansky made a very good point in his comment about how the media choose to pick certain comments and not others. How do we has scientists ensure that our findings are correctly conveyed to the great community?


Melanie said...

I'll have to go and read /all/ of the links, but for now, skimming Dr.Isis's two will have to do. Personally, I find her writing funny. But then if it were my analysis she depicted as taking place on the toilet I might not. Still, the authors should realize that flogging her with long comments defending themselves aren't going to get them anywhere.

How to control or moderate what the media reports? Simple, my dear. We cannot. The media couldn't give a rats ass about correctness or validity of findings. They don't care about what the science even means. They are about money. What sells? "You are more at risk of a heart attack after daylight savings switch," sells. "Scientists find gene for horrible disease X, hope is on the way," sells. "Experiment in Europe may destroy the earth by generating black holes," sells. "This may mean blah blah blah but results need more analysis blah blah more to come in a full paper that discusses the background, stats, and implications later," doesn't sell.

And we wonder why average Joe Public doesn't think much about science or scientists.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I am so glad someone wrote a post like this! Turnabout is fair play in my book. (Although I enjoyed the original post too!)

ScientistMother said...

Mel - I'll have to disagree with you. I think its great that the authors gave an answer to her critiques and that they went over to Bora to have an scientific discussion and I think their comments about the type of critiques Isis was giving were valid. They were able to provide information to her readers, which is excellent for expanding the reach of scientific research.
I disagree with you that we can't do anything. ScienceBlogs, Isis, you and I among others can do alot by blogging about the articles that come out in the press. Blogs have a huge reach, both you and I have many many non-science readers. If we provided critiques every now and then or better yet, on regular basis, the public can have a better understanding. Otherwise we have the Sarah Palin's of the world who do not understand the critical need for fruitfly or yeast reseachers. Where would research be w/o GFP, Cre-lox / Gal4 systems.
Other avenue is things like Cafe Scientifique which makes science so much more available. I think it is vitally important to get ourselves out of the ivory tower more often

ScientistMother said...

Cath - I just wish drdrA didn't beat me to the punch. She gave a much better dressing down!

drdrA said...

I enjoyed your post though- and echo your thoughts.

As for the media- I've been interviewed rather frequently in the last 6 months- mostly for print journalism- I learned my lesson the hard way on this one. I ALWAYS make them send me the section of the text where they quote me or cite what I said in the interview, and I correct any mis-statements, or partial truths that they have introduced.

I just don't want to be quoted for something I didn't say- or for 1/2 of something I said.

Isis the Scientist said...

Wait, wait, wait, was I not ready to take it when it was dished back? Did I not offer an open forum for the authors to reply and allow them to reply without censorship? I don't have to agree with them, but I gave them every opportunity to be heard.

Now, as to whether or not you disagree with my snarkiness, I suppose that's a different issue. I am who I am, but I find it fascinating how many bloggers are now talking about both the science and the realm of the blog as a modality to discuss scientific findings.

Would that have happened without a bear on a potty?

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Isis, to be fair you did say that you found part of their comment to be offensive...

I found your original post very entertaining, but I can see how an author who is not familar with the blogosphere or with US humour could take it the wrong way. My sister (British, obviously, like me) spent some time living in France and Italy and said that people there just did not understand how she could so mercilessly take the piss out of her friends (and herself) and not have anyone take offense...

Isis the Scientist said...

Yeah, alright, touche Cath. I probably did say that. But, in my defense, I was probably drinking at the time.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

drunk blogging rocks.

ScientistMother said...

Isis - I agree you are who are, someone I love to read and whose humorous take on things I share. As I said in the comments to your post, and in my post I did not find your tone offensive at all. But you did (thanks Cath!) perhaps only under drunkenness, but you did. I also totally respect that you not only gave them an open forum by quoting their entire comment but you also directed reader over to Bora. My question to you is what is the difference between the bear on the toilet and the Eucharist in the garbage can? Your argument at that time was to have respect for others beliefs and to be sensitive. When are we supposed to be OK with satire and when are we not? The boundaries are different for different people. For me its whether you're being malicious intentionally or not.

Yes I do think your post helped ignite an important conversation. As I said in my response to Mel, I think blogs are great for a whole lot of different types talking about science.

No time to spell / grammer check this comment as I am trying to make the base for a chicken curry, a vegetable curry and trying to ensure the monkey does not pull the microwave off the counter

Isis the Scientist said...

Ugh..the Eucharist post. Dr. Isis has stirred up some serious crap this month, hasn't she?

But, you see, there in lies the difference, sweet ScientistMother. In my post I think my intent was to challenge the author's interpretation of their data whereas I felt that PZ Myer's post was an afront to my cultural identity -- my post doesn't exclude someone from the discourse because of who they are.

Or maybe it does?

Either way, I'm going to argue that the number of people discussing this paper and the role of the blogosphere in science means this was an all-in-all positive thing. Also, with the number of times Janszky and Ljung have popped up to join in the scrap, I think I owe those dudes a beer next time I am in Sweden.

drdrA said...

Oh Isis-

Puhlease, I think ScientistMother has got it quite right. For some people their life's work is very important and could be considered part of their 'identity' just as much as you consider your religion to be part of your 'identity'- and when you come at someone with a snarky attitude- and insult some part of their 'identity', you are doing what you yourself have claimed offense at. You can not have it both ways.

And no one questioned your absolute right to question data or interpretation- on a blog or anywhere else.

Furthermore, I just love this.
'but I find it fascinating how many bloggers are now talking about both the science and the realm of the blog as a modality to discuss scientific findings. Would that have happened without a bear on a potty?'

I also find this fascinating- but I know that this is occurring all over on the blogs- (Drugmonkey, A blog around the clock, Mike the Mad Biologist etc.) and will continue, regardless of whether there is a picture of a bear on a potty included or not.

Isis the Scientist said...

drdrA, the conversation about whether it is valid for me to equate my religious beliefs with my ethnicity or my gender has been had and, really, I'm not going to have a discussion about whether criticizing someone's faith in God is equivalent to criticizing their data. All I can do is offer you my line of thinking. You can accept it or not. But, you're right that snark begets snark and I was perfectly happy to engage in the discourse in every way it unfolded and I don't think I ever whined. I merely pointed out that the way to answer criticism of your work, regardless of how I presented it, is not to claim that the critic must be ignorant because I find claims of anothers ignorance to be far more damaging than a picture. If you don't believe this to be the case, I challenge you to look at our current (but hopefully not for much longer) political admninistration. There is no way to answer a challenge of ignorance other than with "nu uh."

But, Dr. Isis did not have her feelings hurt or curl up in a ball or cry to her mother. She continued to engage in the discourse. So, let's all get over it.

And, you're right. It is happening all over blogs. And I wonder why that is?

drdrA said...

'I'm not going to have a discussion about whether criticizing someone's faith in God is equivalent to criticizing their data'

Yes, when you don't like where the discussion goes you can take your marbles and go home. Sure. But it bothers me that you make this sound very trivial in the sense that this is only about your critical analysis of their 'data', when I clearly say that some people consider their life's work an integral part of who they are.
I suggest that just because someone doesn't share your priorities- doesn't make their priorities trivial to them.

And as for gettin' your panties in a twist when they questioned your qualifications.... I noticed that you suggested that they should also take a course in, you know, ... science... I try to teach my kids that two wrongs don't make a right. Cliched as it is.

As for WHY there is scientific critique on blogs- I am quite sure that this predates July 2008- and as such would be difficult for you to claim credit for.

Isis the Scientist said...

Dr. Isis totally invented the internet and therefore takes credit for absolutely everything.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

OK, hesitating over whether to post this or not... I have already typed and then deleted it twice. I usually shy away from blog fights but I'm feeling feisty today.

It is really quite amusing to see a Christian complain about being excluded from the discourse when things like this are happening...

ScientistMother said...

Cath - I'm glad that you posted, I don't think was blog fight. At least I didn't take it that way, nor do I hope DrdrA or Isis did either. Its a discussion of the points of view of some amazing women. Who said friends have to agree on everything? That would be a rather boring friendship.

The problem essentially is that what one person finds to be sacred others may not. DrdrA made some excellent arguments about how someones work can / is as close to their identity as anothers religion. As long as we're willing to state our opinion, we have to realize we may offend / piss offsomeone. I can totally see why Isis was aggrieved by the eucharist or why a muslim was by the infamous dutch cartoons. I am sure if someone made a caricature of my religion (or lack thereof) I might not find it funny.

Then again, I might not, as I frequently make fun of my fellow brownies. Who doesn't love Russell Peters? Alot of Indian folk, including my parents, find his humor degrading and insulting but I don't.

My only point was that Isis was trying to have her cake and eat it too. Again for me, I try to not intentionally offend someone, though I am sure I do as I also am sarcastic in the extreme and like to take a piss out stuff.

drdrA said...

No- I like a good discussion. That's all this is to me.

And I think it is fair- as Isis herself has written more times than I can count- to call bullshit on someone when they are selectively applying a set of criteria.

And Cath- I find that link just so funny- especially with all the background noise about the 'godless' ads that Elizabeth Dole is running in her race against Kay Hagan...The suggestion that you are less of a person because you don't believe in the supernatural... frankly- I don't get it.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I know, it is baffling. I mean, I come from a country where the leader of one of the main political parties* declared that he does not believe in God... and the nation just shrugged and got on with it.

*OK so it's only the 3rd largest party and will probably not form a government any time in the next 15 years, but still.

ScientistMother said...

Cath - I had no idea there was liberal party in Britain. I thought it was just the labour and Conservatives and then smaller fringe parties. Don't I feel silly now!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Well some people might call the liberal democrats a small fringe party!

Despite the name (and traditions), the UK Lib Dems are closer to the Canadian NDP than the Canadian Liberals, who I see as being the equivalent of the ex-left-now-centrist UK Labour party. Kinda-ish.

Dr. J said...

Thanks for the Clegg link Cath! I had totally missed that. I saw a documentary on him as an MEP years ago and he seems a very decent and highly capable person, just a shame the Lib Dems are not the official opposition rather than a distant 3rd so his statement that he slept with 'no more than 30 women' ( in his life seems more significant to the press than anything substantive.

Candid Engineer said...

Hmm... apparently this whole Isis business has sparked quite a bit of thought in many of us today. ScientistMother, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject.

If anything is clear to me, it's that I enjoy being part of this community of female bloggers. Important questions are raised, and my interactions with all of you have sometimes changed the way I go about my busienss.