The journalist as expert

I recently turned down some requests for interviews because the topics of discussion in each case indicated that I would be treated as a scientist, not a science journalist (something that happened shortly after the Balakot airstrikes and the ASAT test as well). I suspect science and more so health journalists are being seen as…

In defence of ignorance

A wooden sculpture of the three monkeys sitting on a bench, under a blue sky with a few wispy white clouds.

Wish I may, wish I mightHave this wish, I wish tonightI want that star, I want it nowI want it all and I don't care howMetallica, King Nothing I'm a news editor who frequently uses Twitter to find new stories to work on or follow up. Since the lockdown began, however, I've been harbouring a…

Avoiding ‘muddled science’ in the newsroom

On April 23, I was part of a webinar called ProtoCall, organised by Pro.to with the support of International Centre for Journalists and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. It happens once a week and is hosted by Ameya Nagarajan and Nayantara Narayanan. Every week there's a theme which, together with the discussion around it, is…

Time and the pandemic

There is this idea in physics that the fundamental laws of nature apply the same way for processes moving both forwards and backwards in time. So you can't actually measure the passage of time by studying these processes. Where does our sense of time, rather the passage of time, come from then? How do we…

There is more than one thunder

A winding bolt of lightning descends onto the top of a well-lit skyscraper against an overcast sky.

Sunny Kung, a resident in internal medicine at a teaching hospital in the US, has authored a piece in STAT News about her experience dealing with people with COVID-19, and with other people who deal with people with COVID-19. I personally found the piece notable because it describes a sort of experience of dealing with…

Remembering the ‘Game of Life’

The English mathematician John Horton Conway passed away last week, due to COVID-19. He was 82. I'm afraid my memory of him doesn't do him justice because, if nothing else, Conway resented that many people knew him only for inventing the 'Game of Life'. But I spent hundreds of hours in my high-school days playing…

‘Science alone triumphs’: A skeptic annotates

An article entitled 'Science alone triumphs: Providing a true picture of the world, only science can help India against coronavirus', penned by a Jayant Sinha, appeared on the Times of India's editorials page on April 8, 2020. My annotated reading of the article follows… As the coronavirus continues its deadly spread around the world, it…

How does a fan work?

Everywhere I turn, all the talk is about the coronavirus, and it's exhausting because I already deal with news of the coronavirus as part of my day-job. It's impossible to catch people having conversations about anything else at all. I don't blame them, of course, but it's frustrating nonetheless. I must admit I relished the…

The virus beyond biology

https://twitter.com/harari_yuval/status/1246784570244071424 A perfectly agreeable suggestion on first glance, especially since it provides an opportunity for a quick rebuke when faced with such conspiratorial, often xenophobic claims. But on a second or third reading, you find the problem (apart from Harari's habitual oversimplification): insinuating that your interlocutor is an idiot is only going to have them…