So, What Do You Want to Know?

I am taking a page out of Hillary’s book and asking you what you want to read about here. So please step right up to the comment box and have at it. Let me know the types of science stories you would like to read about.

The big reason I ask is because last night, when I was doing research on wombats and the mange epidemic (which, sad fact, was made worse by the introduction of species like the fox to Australia by humans, creating a really interesting interaction between introduced and native species, mediated through a third species),I thought to myself, “Do people really want to read about cute marsupials who are afflicted with a rather unsightly and painful disease just because it is illustrative of the interesting dynamics possible through species introductions?”

Turns out, I did not have an answer for myself. I love telling these stories about the way the natural world is actually ridiculous and bizarre. But there is a lot more to science. Heck, there’s a lot more to even the science I’m good at. And then there are the discussions about how science is done (the REAL scientific process), and the ethics of how science is done and communicated.

But I’m into all of this stuff. I do not have a good perspective on what is interesting to other people when it comes to science because every little bit is fascinating to me, including extremely tedious conversations about mathematical models and/or using scat in wildlife tracking. And that is why I need your help. Here are some of the types of stories I was thinking about:

  1. More weird nature! Bring on the mangey wombats! And the disproportionately tongued moths!
  2. Contextualizing science news ““ How does it fit within the larger body of research? How will it affect my life? Should I really stop eating food X based on this one study?
  3. The duty of scientists to the public ““ How should we present our research? What research questions should we ask? Do we interact at all ever and if yes, how?
  4. Profiles of awesome scientists. Well, fortunately that one was fairly self-explanatory.

So yeah, please, let me know what you think! Thank you bunches.

23 replies on “So, What Do You Want to Know?”

Not sure if this has been posted above but I can’t read all the responses right now. I”d like an article on how to critically analyze/interpret non-science articles on science research (does that make sense-hope so). For instance, I see a lot of psych studies posted on other blogs (such as Jezebel) that seem to take great liberty with interpreting the results, without giving the full story of research methods, how science studies build on each other, etc. If some sort of how-to guide would be posted, I’d be grateful. For example, I’ve recently come across this article: Although I am far from conservative, the way the author frames the research leaves a bad taste in my mouth but I’m sort of unable to articulate as to why.

The duty of scientists to the public – How should we present our research? What research questions should we ask? Do we interact at all ever and if yes, how?

Or this question can be added to by discussing how those results are then presented in the media by non-science publications. Whew, I found a succinct way to put it.

I love weird nature stuff, but I would really like to see more of #2.  It seems like the the media is always bombarding us with “this study” or “that report”, but then a while later “scientists believe that this study and that report might be wrong” or “new finding suggest that_____”.  How does the average non-scientific type navigate the science that the media throws at us? What is trustworthy and what is not?  And where can we go to find out more?

I love odd ball nature stuff so bring on the mangy wombats, sparkly star systems and devious cephalopods!  I like reading debunking articles and spend a lot of time when my scientist fella comes home pointing at articles from internet news sites saying “is that a thing?” and have him patiently going through why I shouldn’t start just eating cactus or stop vaccinating turtles or whatever the latest ‘science’ based craze is.

Actually, all of the suggestions I want to read about!   There are so many awesome scientists I’d love to hear about!

I’d also like to read about the challenges faced by scientists.  Do you (or others) find it hard to find jobs with contracts that last more than a year?  Science is often portrayed as a boys’ club — how has that/is that changing? Besides research and universities, where do scientists work?  I just always have the feeling that there are scientists everywhere but I can never quite figure out where they are and what they’re up to.  That’s a ridiculously tall order though.  I think I’m just rambling using the word ‘scientist’ now so I shall stop.  But, write on about science, I’m interested!

I definitely agree that there needs to be more attention on where scientists work – and what that work life is like.  I’ve found that there are lots of kids who want to shadow me at work, but because of various (insurance) reasons, I can’t bring kids to the office.  So, like me, if they want to go into science, they won’t see what real life is like until they get there.

And boy is real life an eye-opener.  I never thought my life as a chemist would be spent yelling at printers and taking instruments apart all the time.  But I have definitely used wrenches/screwdrivers more at work than any other part of my life. (And I used to help my dad repair rental houses.)

I like weird nature, but my interests lie more in either the very tiny (news from LHC/CERN, etc.) or the hugely expansive (so where exactly is that earth-like planet they’re talking about? etc.).  I was not a physics fan in school, but for some reason, when I’m not being graded on it, physics is the bomb.  (pardon the pun.)  I’m also into environmental science, so, anything from explaining why earthquakes happen, to La Niña, is cool.

But I also wouldn’t mind some debunking, should there be any reason to debunk.

I like #1 and the context part of #2. My favorite science is a little weird and sometimes interesting for real life thinking. Anything about the human–environment relationship gets brownie points! (I guess almost anything can be argued as falling under that idea but kudos to focusing on how we interact with our different environments!)

I really like #2.  I know IndyHealer says we shouldn’t eat Splenda, but it’s hard to throw out my year’s supply after one article!

Also, I would love to see articles on domesticated pets.  I have dogs and would be interested in articles on potential health risks (we have to be worried about dog flu now??), dietary requirements (should our dogs eat raw or go vegan?) and even behavior articles.

I’m all for collecting more weird nature anecdotes. Like how some female hyenas have evolved ridiculously huge clitoruses (clitori?) to mimic the male aroused penis. Or how monotremes (platypuses/platypi? and echidnas) don’t have nipples, but still express milk to their young. Or how insanely amazing mimic octopods are. But then again, I’m a huge science nerd.
Also, the mangey wombats remind me of my friend who works with the koala/chlamydia epidemic.

sidebar: it occurred to me while writing the above that most of my weird nature anecdotes involve sex/reproductive organs/etc.


I like the profiles piece! I know it’s rather cliched and she’s mentioned all the time but I read the biography of Marie Curie this summer and found it incredibly fascinating.  It covered more about her as a person, a woman, a mother than I ever knew (actually, I never knew she had children! and the author of the bio is actually her youngest daughter). I seriously recommend it. But I must warn any readers – there is one chapter where I cried from beginning to end. Just tears, constant tears. So, it’s intense.


It’s wonderful to read about these famous scientists as the people they were/are. Not just the brains they became known for. :)

Maybe it would be good to learn more about sources of good journals where we can go to read more about studies being done. Too many articles just say “a recent study says x and y and z” and there is never a good source link. So maybe it would be nice to see where the best studies are published? So we can do our own research and reading? And not rely on some half-wit journalist (not implying any Perseph writers at all) to rehash something they read and don’t fully understand.


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