Gene and Tonic, July 7, 2016: Not the Scientific Method

Theral Timpson

On Monday the New York Times published an OpEd for a guy who wants to take the scientific method away from scientists.

There was immediate outrage from Scientific American. Their executive editor wrote, “I am shocked that in a liberal society such as those who read the New York Times and drive Priuses, a society which prizes itself for valuing the uniqueness of others, that scientists are now being singled out and persecuted in this manner. The next thing you know, scientists won’t be able to use either bathroom. After all we gave you--the moon and Silicon Valley and glowing plants for your cubicles--and we get repaid like this?”

The author of the Times piece tells scientists that they can’t have their method because they can’t use it on themselves. And furthermore, just because poets and philosophers aren't as precise as scientists, reads the article, doesn’t mean they can’t use the method.

Many were in disbelief that the New York Times would run such a piece. In fact new scientific theories were springing up hourly, such as the Subway Theory based on the likelihood of New York Times journalists riding the subway with journalists from The Onion and accidentally dropping and picking up the others’ stories.

The Times spokesperson denies this saying, “anyone who bothers to stay apprised of the media business would known why it’s not true. The numbers just don’t work out. The Onion is down to a staff of two sitting at the table: the editor and the onion. At the Times, those of us left can’t even cook with onions."

Another theory is that a Times journalist and an Onion journalist walk into a bar together. After getting drunk they decide to swap stories and see what happens.

Proponents of this theory think it’s happened many times before.

Update: It’s rumored that the story intended for the Times that went instead to The Onion was a piece by Carl Zimmer saying he was the first journalist to have his genome sequenced. Zimmer denies this, insisting the story was intended for STAT News.

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