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David Gibson wrote:

 >Socnetters -- this is a truly outrageous situation. In the very least
 >beware of Helen Pearson.

I agree that the column seems to be misplaced.  After reading the piece, 
though, I couldn't help but think that maybe things aren't as bad as 
Duncan's email made them sound.  Personally, I found the column rather 
"precious," and not very funny; OTOH, it was also less of a hatchet job 
than I expected.  I can certainly understand why he's annoyed (I would 
be, too), and I share the sentiment that he and Kossinets have been the 
victims of a cheap shot.  My sense, however, is that the column does 
more damage to the credibility of the writer than to that of the research.

In the long run, perhaps the greatest harm created by these sorts of 
essays lies in the fact that they undermine legitimate science 
journalism.  Taking two hours of a scientist's (scarce) time to write 
this sort of obfuscatory nonsense is a good way to discourage that 
scientist from talking to other journalists in the future.  If 
_Nature_News_ and other, similar outlets would like for their sources to 
cooperate with them, they would do well to remove writers who behave in 
this manner.  I also agree with David that it does not behoove a serious 
scientific publication to belittle the enterprise that it serves.  The 
American mainstream media already does that job quite effectively, 
without assistance from the likes of _Nature_News_.

That's my sense, anyway.  FWIW.


PS.  Per the original email, was anyone else here contacted by Helen 
Pearson regarding this column?  It would be interesting to get their 
experiences, as well.

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