A revealing parody of a science news article

I have been so busy lately that I have not been keeping up with my Twitterfeed. I nearly missed this very well-written piece by Martin Robbins. (And I probably would have, had I not seen the link posted on Facebook by my good friend Ed K.)

Absolutely hilarious and spot on.

Except… <gulp> I’ve used a lot of the parodied “techniques” in my own science writing. For example, I like putting sentence fragments on their own line (see above). Though generally I do it for emphasis and not just for the hell of it.

Also, I’m pretty sure most of my science articles state, “Further research is needed.” Because further research is always needed! When have you ever read a paper and thought, “Well, that’s it. We’ve answered every question we’ve ever had about this topic, conclusively. Done.”

So, despite the fact that I laughed my way through Martin Robbins’ piece, I also had to wince at the familiarity.

I need to pin the article above my desk as a reminder to myself that I cannot get lazy or allow myself to cut corners, even if I do get crazy busy. When it comes to writing science, I have to do my best to convey the science as accurately as I possibly can, in spite of time and space constraints.

[Addendum 10/26/2010: Martin Robbins, taken aback by how his piece went viral, followed up the next week with an article titled “Why I spoofed science journalism, and how to fix it”.]

[Note 10/26/2010: This post has been re-titled and slightly edited.]

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