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back to article WiReD surgically removes damaged neurotrash 'expert'

Glossy lifestyle magazine WiReD will sever its relationship with pop neuroscience journalist and author Jonah Lehrer, the author of Imagine: How Creativity Works. In late July, Lehrer was cut loose by New Yorker after he manufactured Bob Dylan quotes and then fibbed about their provenance to grownups at the posh mag. Lehrer had …

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Happy

Phoney phoneyism

People who make up Dylan quotes should be lionized as cultural heroes. Dylan is just one big cultural meme surrounding an average sort of composer with a gift for self-promotion and a nose for the kind of obfuscation that intellectuals love. Faking Dylan is like inventing new and more interesting fairy tales.

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Meh

Re: Phoney phoneyism

"People who make up Dylan quotes should be shot"

- Bob Dylan

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Phoney phoneyism

"People who make up Dylan quotes should be shot"

Arrgh....

- Bob Dylan

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Silver badge

Re: Phoney phoneyism

"If people are going to invent quotations, they ought to attribute them to me."

-- Winston Churchill (writing as William Shakespeare)

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Anonymous Coward

Color me unsurprised...

Wired has always been style over substance:

"Here's an article! But it's only 2 paragraphs long, and anybody with decent reading speed and comprehension will see it's totally BS in twenty seconds. How can we make it seem deep and mysterious?"

"Let's typeset it in a big spiral, using ransom note font, in bright yellow, on a swirly hot pink and electric blue background, with the font size getting progressively smaller until it's 5 pt. at the middle. That way, it'll take them an hour to read it, and cognitive dissonance will make them think it must have been deep to take that long to read."

"BRILLIANT!"

So the idea that they are, let's be charitable and say "less than rigorous", on their checking doesn't surprise me. Hence why I stopped my subscription a decade ago.

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Gold badge

Re: Color me unsurprised...

When I'm Prime Minister there are going to be some changes made! But those take time, and annoy people. So to start things off, I'm going to ban idiots from setting black type on brown or dark blue backgrounds, so that it's illegible, and makes my eyes bleed. This is even more annoying and unforgivable in crappy magazines like wIrEd than it is on websites (where I can usually do something about it).

I haven't decided on a punishment yet. There's bringing back the stocks, of course, but I'm thinking of something like having them poked, repeatedly, in the eyes with cocktail sticks.

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Re: Color me unsurprised...

I only read Wired (the US edition) (*) a few times circa 2000-2001. I liked the idea of it- in part influenced by its reputation, but never really took to it.

Later I realised that- rather than the tech/science magazine it presented itself as- it was fundamentally a glossy business (**) and lifestyle-oriented magazine aimed at the sort of people who liked the *idea* of being into technology and science, but who really weren't when it came down to it.

From what I remember, some of their articles *were* quite long and gave the impression of being serious and in-depth. The problem was that- despite this- once you got to the end, you realised that you'd actually learned (or rather, been told) relatively little of substance about the tech or science from the article, or indeed about anything. It was a US-centric, startup-fetishising wank/bloat-fest.

Maybe this got worse after Conde Nast took it over in the late 90s, but I suspect it was always overhyped.

To be fair, I've read some interesting stuff on the Wired website- which I gather was under separate ownership for a long time- but I've still no desire to buy the mag again.

(*) Never read the UK edition, so can't judge that

(**) Specifically the tech business, granted, but it was still about that particular business, rather than the tech itself

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Meh

7 out of every 8 of those contain no other source other than the issuer of the press release

"A study of BBC science journalism last year by the BBC Trust found that 75 per cent of science stories were based on a single press release, and 7 out of every 8 of those contain no other source other than the issuer of the press release."

And the other 1 out of 8 contained factually incorrect material copy-pasted from Wikipedia. Yep, that's my license fee well spent, all right.

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Meh

Re: 7 out of every 8 of those contain no other source other than the issuer of the press release

Not surprising, because 9 out of 10 press releases deal with pre-announcing the soon-to-be-published full article in [insert science mag here] which will be "available" behind a paywall at extortionate rates.

So most of the time journo's who do not have the bottomless purse/expense account to afford subscribing to those mags will go by just that press release, because it is the only bit of factual information out there.

As for wikipedia, your mileage will vary. The bits dealing with actual science are pretty good for basic reading-up on stuff and some source-checking. The more ...volatile.. bits are about as good as your paranoïdar can cope with.

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Re: 7 out of every 8 of those contain no other source other than the issuer of the press release

Not surprising, because 9 out of 10 press releases deal with pre-announcing the soon-to-be-published full article in [insert science mag here] which will be "available" behind a paywall at extortionate rates.

Or, y'know, available on xArchiv for free, as a preprint. If the final version isn't in PLoS or some other open-access venue.

And, of course, the authors of those articles could simply call around to find a scientist working in the area to comment - and said scientist will likely have access to the journal in question, probably through a research library or employer.

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Wired needs to remove design team

Then when all you have are articles to read, I would like to see how many readers will stay.

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cd

How does it feel?

Once upon a time you dressed so fine

You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you ?

People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"

You thought they were all kiddin' you

You used to laugh about

Everybody that was hangin' out

Now you don't talk so loud

Now you don't seem so proud

About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be without a home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone ?

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Trollface

Science "Journalism" works something like this

Scientist: So in conclusion, I can say we have successfully developed a cold resistant strain of wheat that could increase yields in colder climes.

"Journalist": So , for instance, you could grow wheat in the Arctic?

-Scribbles down headline "Scientists develop wheat that grows in the Arctic-

Scientist: Well, theoretically it could survive arctic temperatures for a short while, but

"Journalist": Ok, all done here, thanks.

-Back at the "Science Journalism Cave"-

"Science Editor": We'll need some extra input on this one, maybe you could contact some environmentalists, this "Wheat in the Arctic" sounds like the sort of thing that would rile them up and we can get some great quotes.

-Some phone calls later-

Nutty Enviromentalist: How dare these so called scientists despoil the practically untouched arctic wilderness. Just another example of how Humans are exploiting the whole plant. And the Arctic ice is already under threat from global warming, and now they want to thaw more of it to irrigate their Arctic wheat farms!

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Bronze badge

Re: Science "Journalism" works something like this

Of course the statement from the scientist has already had work done to it. The science will have said that it may be possible to toughen wheat to be slightly more resistant to the cold at the cost of lower yields and that there are probable side effects for other plants and wildlife in the area.

The announcement will say "we now know how to make wheat viable in cold climates".

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