A Failure to Communicate

In Pseudoscience by Brian Koberlein186 Comments

Have you heard about the coming ice age? You may have seen articles with titles such as “Thanks To Reduced Solar Activity, We Could Be Heading For A Mini Ice Age In 2030.” and “‘Mini Ice Age’ Not a Reason to Ignore Global Warming.” Of course such sensational headlines led to rebuttal articles such as “No, We Aren’t Heading Into A ‘Mini Ice Age’” Once again, a hyped headline is used to drive page views, and which only serves to mislead readers. Hence a follow up article on how “The ‘Mini Ice Age’ Hoopla Is A Giant Failure Of Science Communication.” Here’s the thing, though. All of these articles are from IFLS also known as “I’ll use profanity in my website title so people will think I’m edgy and cool.”

You might think IFLS just made a mistake and then made an honest effort to correct it. They didn’t. After their first article hit the press, there were soon legitimate science communicators writing rebuttals. It was clear from the get-go that the research presented did not support a mini ice age in 2030, but IFLS printed it anyway. They published their second article to double down on their hyped claims. Of course, once it was crystal clear that IFLS was wrong, they could have made a correction in the original article and linked to one of the better rebuttals. They didn’t. Instead, they retitled their second article “There Probably Won’t Be A “Mini Ice Age” In 15 Years” and linked to that at the bottom of the page. To this date, they still haven’t made clear that their first article is in error. Why correct your “mistakes” when your lies get you nearly 76,000 likes on Facebook? The last two articles aren’t even ones IFLS wrote. They were actually written on The Conversation and then reprinted on IFLS. Heaven forbid you direct traffic to another site.

This isn’t a failure in science communication. It is the willful promotion of ignorance. So I think a new name for the site is in order: “We’re Just Interested In Pageviews. The Science Can F Itself.”

HT to Yvette d’Entremont for pointing these articles out. You can also read a follow up on this topic.

Comments

  1. Oh, now you’ve gone and criticized IFLS. Elise will not be happy. She might try to shame you on Twitter like she did me and never admit that anything ever went wrong in the history of the site.

      1. One can hope. She seemed more concerned about their image problem than correcting anything. Honestly, I said something wrong myself, but it was a conversation on Twitter between myself and one other person, with a audience of perhaps three people if I’m being generous. She made it a point to correct and retweet me to all her followers, who then decided the measured response was to air this all and publicly shame me. I can’t write a lot in my defense within Twitter’s character limits. Maybe she wanted me to feel some of the sting she’s felt but I don’t have nearly the audience she does and if I were writing to a larger audience instead of a single individual on Twitter I would have been much more careful with what I had written.

        1. Author

          Mistakes happen. How you deal with them matters. I’ve made mistakes on my site and corrected them. I’ve even pointed out where folks disagree, even when I still disagree with them. If IFLS had updated the posted and made it clear at the top that the claim wasn’t justified, they’d have a different reaction from me. They haven’t done that.

          1. BTW, if you criticize the use of profanity in the title, you are a prude and subject to criticism yourself. If anyone responds in IFLS’s defense, they might just ignore everything else you said and focus on your apparent discomfort with their use of the F-word. I’ve seen that happen before, too.

          2. Haha, well that’s out of the way then. Let it be known that Brian is not a prude.

          3. I read each of the articles in question. It was very transparent to me. I found it very offensive when they blamed the media for getting it wrong and didn’t bother to mention the fact that they did the same thing. Unfortunately I do find their articles interesting, so I will continue to read most of them, even though I have lost significant respect for them. Perhaps you could suggest another site to follow on FB with better info?

          1. Author

            It was written on a different site and reposted (as I noted in the post) and the original article doesn’t link to it.

          2. James and Patio are correct. You are wrong, Brian. She posted about an erroneous claim, then posted that it was wrong and further posted someone’s article explaining why. At the end of the article she gives credit and links to the original article. She communicated just fine, which is your complaint.
            You’re kinda coming across as a jealous rival in high school, Brian.

      1. Only 12-year-olds of supremely limited intellect call people a “retard”–and think they’re actually being effective and clever in insulting people in the process. Grow up, kid, and buy yourself a thesaurus. You’re mentally stunted, and you’re embarrassing yourself (and, no doubt, your parents).

        1. Maybe he just has better things to do than spend his time thinking up new ways to insult people so he can appear “edgy and cool”. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Adur

  2. I understand the issue with IFLS, however The UK newspaper, The Telegraph is no less to blame.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/11733369/Earth-heading-for-mini-ice-age-within-15-years.html.

    That said, the blame does not stop there. Really, it stops with the readers who consume this story without any skepticism at all. Maybe there’s something to it, but it’s necessary to hold some doubt. After all, it is a newspaper repeating the claims of rather obscure researchers who ran a model that they claim is “97% accurate”.

    1. Author

      The actual presentation is on modeling solar cycles (such as the 11 year cycle). The claim is there are two cycles that can move into phase with each other, resulting in a low sunspot period similar to the Maunder minimum. The claim is that the model predicts sunspot cycles with 97% accuracy. At no point does the initial press release claim another mini ice age.

      Blaming readers for not being skeptical enough is weak tea. IFLS presents itself as a source for scientific news. It therefore has a responsibility to be accurate to the best of its ability. The blame rests solely on them, and other institutions like them.

          1. I didn’t know they were journalists, bloggers at best. The point is promotion (of science), something they’re moderately successful at.

          2. Author

            Several folks have made the argument that since they aren’t journalists that gives them a bye. If they aren’t holding themselves to basic journalism standards, then they aren’t promoting science they’re just promoting themselves.

      1. It’s a 22 years long Sun-spot cycle. Ask any HAM Radio operator. It’s nothing new.

        You people act like it’s some sort of a disease. It’s not.

        Now quit fanning the flames of hype and chaos. You’re half the damn problem all by yourself.
        Seriously.

          1. Nobody said it wasn’t complex, only that it’s rather common knowledge. And Mr. Cannistraci, agreed.

      2. Perhaps it is unfair to discredit the whole of IFLS for the fault of one of their many writers when, in fact, they have had plenty: interesting, accurate and well presented, professional articles. If you don’t like the way they present themselves then you can always read the article they are reporting on as it is linked at the bottom.

      3. Wait.. so there /is/ a solar minimum, and that would naturally produce lower amounts of energy/heat that would radiate to the planet. That, in the end, would cause the planet to cool down.

        At what point does that disprove a mini-ice age at all? I think that’s more of accepting it’s possibility then it’s impossibility.

        1. Author

          The research was only about sunspots, and have no evidence to support the idea of a mini ice age. The research wasn’t about climate at all. IFLScience went with a headline on the mini ice age for page views.

    2. The Telegraph is practicing cheap and easy ‘journalism’ where it recycles stories off the net. This cuts down the wages as you can get interns to do this at interns’ wages and cut the wage bill, you don’t need to pay expenses or research costs or infrastructure such as an library.
      Also, the more spectacular and controversial the story is the more it sells papers. It is a dive to the bottom in terms of quality.
      Also, for readers to have scepticism they need to be educated. If their science education comes from inaccurate sources such as IFLS and the Telegraph repeats the crap they publish, giving it authority, then we stand no chance of educating the public.
      Further, while our so called leaders deny science (eg, climate change, WMDs in Iraq) and peddle nonsense that serves big oil, big pharma or the military-industrial complex we are swimming upstream. But then the media are part of that circle that benefits from our ignorance.
      I am not an embittered journalist with an axe to grind – I was a life scientist until I became a Health and Safety Advisor. Both jobs require analytical thinking – unlike the Telegraph.

    3. Let’s just say the telegraph doesn’t pretend they’re a source of reliable scientific information… IFLS personally infuriates me not only because they rely on misleading titles appealing to basic instincts, or even that the articles have a large tendency to be inaccurate to the point of falsehood, not even accounting the lack of sources. No. What is infuriating to me is that they then pretend to be mother cracking scientific.
      That grinds the hell out of my gears.

    1. For some, like me, once we see articles presented that push misinformation, we just don’t visit that site again. But I admit that the eyeball-grabbers are good at what they do. It’s just toxic for most everyone else.

    2. Yeah many do have that view but no incentive to voice it. It’s just sad that the masses have to read that sensationalist bullshit on a site that promotes science. We just do what trog does, and I do admit that their clickbait is strong.

  3. The article series in question wound up being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I’d been seeing things in IFLS that I felt didn’t live up to the “S”. The “ice age” mess just convinced me to unlike the page. Pity, since it was really good when it first started.

    1. Could you please tell me other cases in which IFLS didn’t live up to its (pop) science website role? Don’t read in this post anything else than curiosity, I sincerely want to know since this is the first time I noticed something really wrong in the behaviour of the page, but I never paid much attention to this.

      1. Not to mention the insane amount of clickbait she posts now…unliked about a month ago and haven’t looked back

  4. To be fair though, there is no accurate evidence proving that a solar minimum wouldn’t cause considerable cooling. Unfortunately the models used to state that global warming will outdo the negative climate forcing due to a solar minimum can not accurately produce the climate forcing that occurred during the last solar minimum. So the truth is that no one actually knows for sure as there are many variables. Anyone that claims that they do are foolish.

    1. Author

      The original research focuses only on solar activity (sunspots, etc.) It made no claims about changes in Earth’s climate. That was added by IFLS.

      1. The original journal article only focuses on the Sun’s magnetic field and sunspots, but the scientist in question (Zharkova) and her colleagues have made statements implying a new Maunder Minimum could lead to major cooling. This is at odds with the peer reviewed research, which indicate the impact of a new Maunder Minimum would be modest relative to anthropogenic climate change.

        The gaps in the relevant press release, and the mixed messages Zharkova has made in interviews, make this story hard to follow. Zharkova seems to have given a public talk titled “400,000 Years of Climate Change” back in December 2013, so it would be puzzling if she was unaware of climate implications of her research.

        (Disclosure: I authored one of the Conversation articles republished by IFLS.)

  5. Look, IFLS prints whatever science articles come up, and then can print a contradictory science article the next day. Isnt that what science is all about, continuously questioning yourself and the latest scientific theories? I think it is great that there is a site like IFLS out there that has managed to bring scientific issues, debates, theories, to the mainstream folks! It is still up to you, as a critical reader, to then further research a subject to form your own opinion if you’re interested. Why do we also want ready-made answers? Scientific theories evolve, scientists publish and withdraw with new evidence, the freedom to publish, learn, debate is the whole core principle of IFLS, and Im still hugely in support of that principle, as it is the core of a scientific mind!

    1. Author

      Science communication is about accuracy. If IFLS simply printed what’s handed to them, they wouldn’t be communicating science. In this case they actually hyped a story beyond the scope of the research, which is intentionally misleading.

    2. But they don’t accurately print it. In this case, the original research mentioned nothing about an impending ice age. They have done similar things before to get more eyeballs (and more clicks). Science is about dispassionately representing findings, and does not condone intentional modification for garnering more revenue.

      Also, that website has run into copyright issues before : http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/compound-eye/facebooks-i-fcking-love-science-does-not-fcking-love-artists/
      There is nothing wrong with monetizing your passion. But there is a problem if monetary gain requires you to misrepresent facts.

    3. IFL Science makes no effort to be accurate or truthful. So, no, that’s NOT what science is about. The people running that site have turned it into a joke–the scientific equivalent to TMZ.

      1. You say “makes no effort to be accurate or truthful”. Do you really think that is true? I’m willing to bet that IFLS actually makes a pretty strong effort to be accurate and truthful. Maybe some hype-filled articles will get shared without a thorough scrutiny. But to say they make ‘no effort to be accurate or truthful’ is just false, and you are more guilty of what you are accusing.

        1. Author

          The first article I mentioned is a good example of making “no effort to be accurate or truthful.” The original presentation makes absolutely no mention of an ice age. None whatsoever. It is about the solar cycles of sunspots. The article specifically made a wild claim about a mini ice age and implied the research made such a claim. That wasn’t a mistake, it was willfully distorting the facts. When other websites made it perfectly clear that there was no predicted ice age, they didn’t post a correction at the original link, or even note that the claims were in error. Instead they posted new articles written by others. So they specifically mislead readers in a way that gave them more page views.

          They have a record of doing this. When the EM drive hype first hit, they presented the story as if warp drive had been discovered. Big, linkbait headline, and lots of page views. They were called out on that, and in the end just added a small link that said um, yeah, this hasn’t really been peer reviewed yet…

          This doesn’t even get into the issues the site has had with content theft, or selling things in their store for which they don’t have the rights.

  6. As I understand it, Elise now employs staff to run the IFLS page so I’m guessing they have to scour the web for interesting stuff and the filtering process inevitably falls victim to overenthusiasm. Science communication will always be difficult if the aim is to offer snapshots of what’s being reported in the mainstream. IFLS was, as I see it, never intended to be a source of definitive information and always provides pointers to the originating article or paper. However, most followers are almost certainly curious non-scientists who would find it difficult to follow the complete trail. A victim of its own success? I think so.

    1. Author

      The decision to hype stories is an editorial decision. It’s not a victim of its own success, it intentionally misleads to maintain its popularity. Profit over accuracy.

      1. So you KNOW what IFLS’s intentions are? Do you care to explain just how you came to be privy to this information? Or are you being just a tad less than accurate yourself in your word choice? IFLS has changed, I was in the first 100,000 or so “likers” and yes, I miss its old feel. So what? Stuff changes! And if Elise isn’t as quick to correct as you would like, can you imagine the amount of trolling she gets? I say relax, move on and find something substantive to worry about. IFLS has been a force for (sciencey) good and it remains so, as imperfect as it is…

        1. Author

          Good science communication practices are easy to follow, particularly for a large website. The only reason to go with clickbait and misdirection is to encourage more pageviews.

  7. There will always be an audience for sites life IFLS. Look at the number of TV programmes about ghosts, alien encounters, creation denial and UFO cover ups.
    I suspect this article will draw some fire for criticising them. Please don’t get into a drawn out debate, just keep posting the high quality interesting science articles that your global audience has come to expect from you.

    1. You are likening IFLS to pseudo science? You really did miss the memo. The whole point if IFLS is to debunk such things, and being compared to it clearly illustrates your lack of understanding of that.

      I don’t hear people crying about all the other news agencies that also misinterpreted the original source, where is the outrage at that? Sounds like there is a personal bias here, sad to say.

      1. I think you may be missing his point or biting the very hook which has been set for you.

        The whole point of comparing IFLS to pseudo-science ghost hunter type sites is to precisely illustrate teh damage to credibility that IFLS risks by not having appropriate scientifically literate and qualified staff working for Elsie.

        Quality costs, I see arguments for how ‘busy’ Elsie must be and the quality seems to have dropped now that posting and writing is delegated.

        Elsie decides on WHO to delegate to and the guidelines they must work to.

        Inaccuracy and sensationalism at the expense of scientific rigour and critical thinking in the editorial process warrants contempt, ridicule and re-branding as pseudo science.

        Elsie: Investigate this. If necessary sack are recruit anew with new found care and wisdom.

  8. The problem isn’t with rags like IFLS.
    The problem is with the groups make the “scientific” more media friendly. In the attempt to convey this extremely heady information on subjects/topics the average reader know absolutely nothing about, the caveat of “…but do your own research” is always lost and the readers take the information as gospel truth. And this is exactly these so-called science journals want because it generates views.
    Now, on the current topic of discussion being complete bullshit, everyone needs to remember two things:
    1) No one has the technology to predict the weather. This is a FACT.

    2) Not everything you read on the Internet is true.

    Everyone needs to get a grip, calm down and don’t panic. It’s nothing we can change. It’s the WEATHER for Pete’s sake. It is what it is and there’s nothing you can do about it. Accept it and move on, you’ll get more done.

    1. Author

      Actually, weather prediction is quite accurate at this point. Climate research is also well substantiated. Arguing ignorance is weak tea.

    2. Disagree…

      I selectively FB repost or share articles that I first see on IFLS. I do the same from many sources.

      The difference is that I limit what I post to articles that present facts. If I am in doubt I leave it out.

      This is credibility. IFLS loses this if they don’t.

  9. IFLS is not a professional site. Elise has no more qualifications in science than I have and I can also assure you the history of IFLS and how it started is very different from the one listed in Wikipedia. It was not set up to be a science site it was set up to be somewhere to post articles from other sources in one place and some funny science jokes. The site will never be one of scientific fact only opinion it does not do it’s own research into articles it just posts stuff that is interesting to the team. How do I know? I was there in the beginning administrating and posting on the various associated sites on facebook.

    1. Author

      IFLS paints itself as presenting accurate scientific information. It has a responsibility to be accurate, and given its size it has the resources to be accurate. It chooses to misinform people.

    2. For obvious reasons I’m not commenting on the bits regarding foundation and original purpose of IFLS.

      I will however point out that Elise does have a BSc in Biology from Sheffield, which is a very decent UK university. If I recall she got a 2:1 or 2:2. Elise also frequently posted interesting and informed material in other science groups (or when “debating” creationists).

      So whilst my association with Elise soured to the point it was thrown out and not recycled, it’s still only fair to be, well, fair.

    3. Very fair point.

      Why not pin a similar disclaimer at the top of the page and periodically state this in posts? It’s simply that your popularity now carries a degree of responsibility to Science as a whole.

      Now your audience has grown and become generally less scientifically illiterate in the sense of the rigours of critical thinking far too many non facts are growing viral as a result of your active participation and re-writing of articles.

      This both misinforms and undermines the credibility of science as a whole.

      I respect your comment above and see your perspective, really I do, but I think that a much more public apology for the article AND an admission that this site is NOT scientific at the core of its principles is overdue now.

  10. IFLS links to (mostly) science related news, it does not do any filtering, nor judgemental marketing as such IMHO.

    I agree with the author that IFLS should update posts that are wrong with a note and link to correct article (if any) – the way science do it – we don’t scrap bad science so we can’t remember why X is right and Yn and Zn are wrong, it is called documentation.

    On a side note – thinking about all the people that read (like) the posts on IFLS then I think most are enlightend more by even headline news than they would otherwise be if eg. IFLS didn’t exist in the non scientific environment call Facebook, so even though IFLS hasn’t corrected the mistake(s) and updated the faulty articles, then it is still a better good than evil.

    Subjective ideas (and especially the ideas thought of as “my oppinon”) are often more harmful to an environment (eg science) than false printed fact on a site that hardly ever has any reads (hits) after the publishing date… People on Facebook can’t recall what they read yesterday and if they can, then they can’t find the post anyway.

    For scientific people to use IFLS is not a good idea (in my opinion) since it is headline news and not full factual scientific articles, it is just a place for people to get easy readable headline news about science and its advances, it is not for education.

    And as mentioned above then giant commercial press media gets it wrong as well from time to time and usually they don’t print “sorry we were wrong, here are the facts” when they screw up because the reader(s) don’t recall what they read yesterday.

    IFLS is a good page even with its mistakes. One can hope that the articles will be updated, but otherwise, if you (the arthur) is a scientific person, then why even care about IFLS – it is not an active scientific page – it is a media to enlighten the “dumb masses”, not for scientifically literate people that know not to use popular media outlets as a source (read: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. etc.).

    1. Author

      There are lots of scientists who write for the general public in a way that’s clear and accurate. Because they don’t use linkbait like IFLS, you don’t hear much of them. IFLS contributes nothing to the conversation that can’t be covered more accurately by others.

      1. Then you have just written your own rebuttal. “Because they don’t use linkbait, you don’t hear much of them.” What is the VALUE of an unknown, perfectly correct communications vehicle? If we accept Value is a product of Accuracy times Influence….then nearly ZERO. Now..what is the Value of IFS? If we put IFS’s Accuracy at let’s say 0.75, but Influence as a scaled number (let’s use 1), then IFS’s Value would be 0.75. Which is a hell of a lot larger than ZERO.

        Therefore, although IFS’s Accuracy might be lacking, the very fact that it IS populist and a bit sensational ensures that as long as it get’s MOST of it’s science correct, it’s utility to science education is very positive…and a lot larger than “perfect” little sites that no one has heard of….

        1. Author

          I’m amazed at how many IFLS supporters use the argument that it’s okay to mislead folks from time to time because it makes science cool an appealing. If that’s the case, what you’re looking for is “Science!” not science.

  11. They’ve been posting a lot of ‘click bait’ recently that’s rustled my jimmies, but this article just seems to be a bit juvenile and comes across to me as a possible response to some personal issue between the author and IFLS.
    Are there any other articles similar to this that have been incorrect and then treated like this one that can be posted right now to show it was not just a one off event, or do we just beat our chests and burn effigies of Elise due to this single article that sounded pretty dubious in the first place?

  12. Brian, I agree with you, the click baiting is annoying and it is arguably anti-science. Bear with me on this…

    The Telegraph have really gone downhill since they joined the click bait “devolution” of man-kind… read any article on their site and they repeat the headline and intro paragraph 2 or 3 times before moving on to the actual story. That’s another discussion…

    What I will say for IFLS is that I think it has encouraged more people to engage with the wonders of science in a more accessible and “lay man” way, which I think is a good thing. However, I abhor click bait and it makes me feel patronized and foolish if I succumb to its trickery.

    So… I read many science/physics/space sites and I try to stick to original sources like NASA or Phys.org etc. As someone who is qualified in such matters, can you recommend sites that you would consider to be reliable sources of information for someone like me who is more a lay man?

  13. Daah for many it IFLS is a source to save searching for so called science titbits and trending stories, most of what they post is pretty interesting and sciency enough .. this whole climate debate is already a certainty for anyone curious enough to do some serious searching, so it becomes a nonsense all these sensationalist anti climate change stories, however this is just part of the landscape out there. You are bang on about the need for a clarification though as the group or brand of IFLS hangs on its ability to apply umm science I guess.

  14. You’d need to ask to Neil Tyson DeGrasse what he thinks about this attitude by IFLS

    1. IFLS.com is the original and not satire. IFLS.org is satire and much like The Onion. Their main pages look similar and if unaware, one could be let to the .org site by mistake.

  15. I remember when it was just one of those random Facebook pages. And although sharing cool easily-digestible factoids didn’t do much for science, it was interesting and at least helped get rid of misinformation on Facebook. But then it got too popular, and as the clickbait industry rose up around it, IFLS got a website and joined the ranks of sensationalist bullshit-peddlers alongside Buzzfeed et al. Really is a sad story of what money and popularity can do to something.

    1. Author

      That’s one of the reasons I keep my own site ad free. Readers can support me through Patreon and the like, but mere pageviews do nothing for me. IFLS doesn’t have to use clickbait to exist, it just chooses to.

  16. I’m so glad that you’ve called out IFLS! I hope you take on more of their awful deeds, until they realize that they have to have some integrity.

    There’s so much utter nonsense they put out, claiming that it’s “science”, when it’s actually some gross misunderstanding, misquotation, or just plain misinformation made up by some unknown person, often uncited. They not only give science a bad name and give undiscerning luddites something to point at feebly, but because for so many people, that is their exposure to excitement about “science”, people get a completely bogus view of what science is and get excited about things that are just plain false.

  17. I un-liked IFLS after their very blatant attacks on Sea World. Blackfish isn’t science, it was filled with lies, rhetoric, misinformation, and out-of-context interviews. Sea World is by far one of the largest organizations funding studies on the oceans. Their entertainment section that provides us with the entertaining shows? It’s well documented, so they can learn about the animals behaviors, a very important thing people overlook. And if the trainer feels the animal isn’t wanting to do it, they don’t force it. So yes, the very small entertainment section of Sea World funds the very LARGE section of research, and conservation they do. And IFLS dared to say not to support them… Sorry IFLS, I’d rather support the REAL science, not the clickbait bullshit you tout as science.

    1. Coincidentally, my next door neighbors (all markedly underpaid degreed veterinarians and marine biologists) are senior Seaworld San Antonio trainers. They truly love and care for their charges as if they are their children. They learn from them daily and sincerely wish that there were other methods of achieving their goals (not monetary). One has a dream of being able to travel along with a pod, communicating and learning.

  18. I think we’re all missing the point here. IFLS isn’t meant to be a “go to” page for all your science needs. But they post some solid articles, some of which I’ve reshared on my own site (after a bit of follow research). At the end of the day, people need to understand that there are always multiple points of view for any scientific subject. It’s ip to the readers to decide for themselves what they wish to first or not. And she’s absolutely not under any obligation to post anything other than what she wants. And as the saying goes nowadays “if you don’t like it, feel free to unlike and stop reading.”

  19. Exactly what part of those IFLScience articles was “wrong” and should be corrected? You claim they “made a mistake” and “didn’t correct it”. What mistake did they make? You don’t say. Those articles are counter-claiming the “sensational headlines” you point out, and the IFLScience articles both end with “possible, but very unlikely”, which is completely accurate. There’s nothing for IFLScience to admit a mistake on.

    The only “promotion of ignorance” here is your post, where you’ve made great claims about how IFLScience is “refusing to admit errors” and how its content is “wrong”, but you haven’t even indicated what part of the content is “wrong”, or what errors they made. Are you saying you have strong evidence that there WILL be a mini ice age in the very near future, and you’re disputing the claim that it’s “very unlikely”? If you’ve found them in error, point out the error, and make your counter-claim. All I’m reading here is the equivalent of saying “They made headlines by pointing out Jenny McCarthy is wrong about vaccinations, and they haven’t corrected their mistake.” Which implies you think Jenny McCarthy is correct about vaccinations, even though she’s been proven completely wrong by everyone with any credibility at all.

    IFLScience isn’t a technical journal, and it’s not pretending to be. It’s trying to make science news accessible to the masses — and part of that is to cut through the “sensational headlines” that the mass media clickbait is always generating. They’re trying to counter the Jenny McCarthys of the science world, but they still have to distill the dry data down into something that can be consumed by the vastly under-educated American population.

    So, what exactly do you think IFLScience got wrong in those articles?

    1. Author

      The original work, as summarized in this press release is about solar cycles (sunspot cycles, for example) and argues that there are two cycles that when they come into sync could create a solar minimum similar to the Maunder minimum. It doesn’t say anything about an ice age on Earth, probably because the connection between the Maunder minimum and the “mini ice age” is complex and debatable. IFLS made the claim that the research predicted a mini-ice age. That’s misleading at best, and gives fuel to climate change deniers.

      Lots of websites (even many written by scientists) communicate the details of scientific research in an understandable way without the clickbait.

  20. Your article only mentions one example. Would be stronger with follow-up examples of similar behaviour. One outlier does not equal a trend

  21. So they make a slip up here and there, and you label them anti-science? How does that gross over exaggeration make you any better than them then? Prof Stephen Hawking admitted to a miscalculation a little while ago, where’s your article labelling him a fucking quack? Bashing people for a mistake doesn’t make you better than them. It makes you an asshole…

    1. “here and there”

      You’re deluding yourself if you think this isn’t happening all the time. And you’re comparing Stephen Hawking to IFLS? Man, all aboard the Elise Defense Train.

  22. I would say the same about your post, which I was directed from a link called “Why IFLS is Anti_Science”….Would you say that your statement is true just based on that ONE example. I does not sound very scientific to me. At least write your article based on several example to substantiate your statement. Otherwise, sounds just like you are a bit jealous/frustrated.

    1. this was mostly an op ed article. this author feels a way about IFLS and has decided that they are anti-science. if you wanna solve the problem of ‘click-bait’ science articles, then you have to solve the problem. not the symptom. under-education in america and our failing education system leads citizens to absorb information incorrectly, its not the sites fault, its america’s. if we were educated better (dont ask me how, TLDR) we might be able to move forward and leave behind issues like that.

      fyi, to the Original Author: Ur article title can be read as click-bait.matter of fact, i read the title and clicked. and seriously, that whole article was you having a beef. you sound like an abused spouse. complaining but doing nothing about it. Actions speak louder than words, hombre.

      1. Author

        That’s the difference between us. To use your abused spouse analogy, I’ll put the blame squarely on the abuser, not the victim.

  23. Lol! Give me my 2 mins back of my life for reading this article. It was so pointless.

  24. Journalism in general is pretty uninformative these days. I don’t hold it against IFLS. I don’t take any news from Twitter or Facebook as actual journalism. IFLS is still more useful than Fox News to the overall conversation on climate change.

  25. In my honest opinion, you have gone out of your way to discredit a site that has never claimed any credit.Which leads me to believe that you only wrote this article for views.

    With that being the case, you are no better than these so called harbingers of misinformation. Why go out of your way to write this article, when ACTUAL scientific institutions spread lies and misinformation on a consistent basis? Would your argument not be better suited for use against these “trusted” organizations? You may be a good journalist, but this article is petty and lacks dignity.

    It’s obvious that these people have wronged you or upset you on a personal level. Anyone who says that VIEWS don’t matter on a SOCIAL MEDIA page is grasping for straws. I’m sorry that you are butthurt man, but this article won’t reach anywhere close to the 21 million people viewing their page. Good try and good day.

    1. Author

      I’m not a journalist, I’m an astrophysicist. Which is why I get upset when a website intentionally claims “coming ice age” when the actual research says nothing of the sort.

      1. So as an astrophysicist you are a man of logic. This being the case, logic should dictate that a social media science outlet is just that. Social media. So to attack such media is saying, “I am fed up with social media spreading false information”.

        With that title and that purpose, this article would be worth reading. Attacking one specific source screams to the reader that you have very specific motive, when clearly the point is very broad.That is all I’m saying. IFLS is not the culprit or the problem. It is just a small strand of fiber connected to the massive blanket of misinformation on the web.

        1. Except misinformation is misinformation and social media reaches more people in a more familiar way than traditional media. It is never wrong to call out mininformation. It’s also ridiculous assume that all perveyors of information on the web are equivelent and that there are none that should be held to account.

      2. and IFLS is not a scientific journal, and as a social media page it should not be held to the standards of a scientific journal, or even a scientific news source such as Scientific American. “Consider your source” is not weak tea. It’s fine and good to call out misinformation, and I applaud that. As a scientist I’m sure you can appreciate that your argument would be stronger if it: is not motivated by emotion, soft-pedals sarcasm, and presents an objective and balanced view.

        If IFLS gets the uninitiated excited about science (as opposed to seeing scientists as elitist snobs) then I think there is value in that, and I do not agree that throwing out the whole site is warranted.
        I agree “anti-science” can be seen as quite click-baity itself.

        If you are interested in the external perspective of a fellow scientist and a friend of a friend, when I read the article and the comments, the word “witch hunt” comes to mind.

        – Angela

        1. Author

          It seems your argument is that the “uninitiated” shouldn’t be offered honest and accurate scientific reporting. As long as they get excited about “science” it doesn’t matter whether it’s accurate.

  26. I remember liking their page ’cause they had some interesting posts and not much meme spam. But with time I started to get tired with the sensational messages, reposts of old stuff, spam of memes, and obvious contradicting articles which makes you see how unreliable they are. I ended up unfollowing them some time ago.

    I find sensational science promoters worse than anti-science people, they just give antis and ignorant people more reasons and material to criticize true science. When you sensationalize something you make it more prone to misinterpretation and even give the opposite message.

    Imo, science doesn’t need to make up to look sensational, it is already breathtaking if you do an effort to really understand what it says. But ofc, most of the people are more moved by sensationalism and scandal than factual information, after all, it’s too attractive to get things chewed up and not have to make the effort to think, even if they are wrong.

  27. There is such a huge difference between a scientist and a scientist communicator. For me, when reading science articles that are to my level of expertise (which is actually none, but I’m a science enthusiast and I love reading and discussing them to better understand the world I live in) it’s all about how you back up the information provided and next how you present it. In the past I found so many inconsistencies in the IFLS page, that doing my own research, lead me to finally understand that it doesn’t matter what a communicator tells you, it’s always best to do a double check. Unfortunately, if when doing that double check process you find mistake after mistake (note that mistake and different point of view or different theory ARE NOT THE SAME), they just lose the credibility the made based on the poor ability to communicate the actual science. I call it: a house of cards. =)

  28. The website is simply obeying the rules of “entertainment”. The headlines are constructed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, just like “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel. These science websites have to bring in the non-science-degreed people – and many, in fact, are run by individuals who love the subject matter but have no degree in it. Many of NatGeo’s web pages are prime examples of that like “Laelaps”.

  29. The article on the other website, was it written by any one who writes for IFLScience ? If not, I can see the problem. If so, what’s the problem ? I write on my WordPress blog (not the one I am commenting with) and link to it through my Facebook page, which is where my blog originated. I have also used the Verge to share my work and Car Throttle. Well, the Verge banned me from using their forums with no reason, which hurt my blog’s reach an awful lot, approximately 200 people worth for reach in about ~ 10 countries.

    Besides the point. you said IFLScience is “anti-science” which means against science. But how is this ? They write about scientific research and publish it to just under 80,000 Facebook followers, and probably over 100,000 people that visit the website as a stand alone experience. You also said that what they use as titles is basic click bait, but you’ve done it with this post. Because IFLS are pro-science, they support, publish and write on scientific research.

    It is also very common to be misled personally when writing an article. It happens to the best of us, and the best of the industry. Regardless of the mistake, they published a true article afterwards. They tried to correct it in their own way and I can see why. They have ads on the site, if they rewrite the article / delete the original, then they lose out on ad traffic, it is a business choice to do so. Even though, I do not agree with non-relative ads.

    Now, I can see your frustration with the misleading article material, I do. But claiming they are “anti-science” is more misleading and inaccurate. It is also damaging to the people of IFLS. Yes, they have unethical ways of dealing with criticism, but that does not give anyone the right to write an article that slanders them over a mistake and claiming they are anti specific material.

  30. Seems like someone’s a little butthurt that they aren’t as popular. The fact is IFLS isn’t a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It’s a science and entertainment site. If you expect a science and ENTERTAINMENT site to not make journalistic mistakes, then you sir, are lacking an understanding of the real world.

  31. I honestly think she started the page with good intentions. Then, when IFLS really hit the big time and became insanely popular (because, honestly, who doesn’t love the word “fuck”) and she started seeing dollar signs, all the integrity went out the window.
    Mind you, this is just one man’s opinion.

  32. Maybe this is why whenever I go to an IFLS article anymore the comments are closed.

  33. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww… I was kinda hoping a mini ice age would mean snow where I live. I never get snow. Stupid California Northern coast. Foo.

  34. You do realize that IFLS is written by Volunteers with scientific and creative writing classes under their belts?
    Why edit an article when a new one will be seen by so many more people? Of course some stories are reprinted for the site, do you share things on Facebook? How is it any different, besides where internet traffic ends up, to hear the same story?
    I know there won’t be a mini ice age due to the Maunder Minimum coming up again, and thanks to IFLS, so do at least 35,000 others. Instead of trying to discredit a source that is 98% correct, why don’t you just TRY to inform people on the truth, much like IFLS does.

    And for your information, the site does delete articles it finds to be inaccurate. But there are a lot of them, and the proofreading is done by unpaid volunteers.
    To reiterate, It takes less time to print a new article, and inform the public of the newest Scientific breakthroughs today, rather than when you have to get ahold of the writer of the original to take down the old one.

    Because of this Article, I will NEVER visit your site. Chew on that before you decide to slander a community organization again.

  35. If your main source for Scientific journalism is IFLS on Facebook then you are in serious trouble when it comes to being factual.

    It is Facebook and no story on any page is worth taking as gospel truth until you correlate the facts from other sources, especially those who produce the actual sources for the results, stats, figures… whatever the statements are based on. In this manner you are approaching journalism in a scientific manner from the start.

    I follow IFLS and being honest I have thought many a time about ‘unfollowing’ the page for not only the erroneous nature of many of their articles and sources but also for the fact that a great many of their articles have very little to do with ‘science’ in the first place.
    The reason I keep it is only for one reason, that once in a while they do indeed produce and article that I find interesting or it brings to my attention a topic and it leads me to source genuine information. It is just a shame that so much of what is posted is absolute trash journalism for ‘click bait’ and even worse is when these articles are repeatedly posted over and over.

    Anyway, I believe that anyone taking a publication with such an offensive title, especially on social media, so serious is rather leading themselves in to trouble in the first place. If you don’t wish to be mislead, don’t be so easy to be lead.

  36. There is a bit of popularizing science going on over there. I very much like siting my ‘sources’ and writing as well as I am able on my blog. I don’t have anywhere near the traction that they do however. How to balance the need for both in the same space?

  37. Wow, so much jealousy. Brian, instead of losing so much time bashing IFLscience, can you do something better? Well I see you can reply… how much hate you have in you. You could definitively do something better with your life, or is it the best you can do?

  38. I find it quite amusing that people picked this article to flip out about, considering it happens to be the very first time I’ve personally noticed IFLS report something that didn’t hold up when checked (not that I check every article, but it’s the only thing I’ve seen “debunked” or any valid opposition toward), and within 24 hours, they released a new article correcting themselves and included the debunking information.

    If you think you’re receiving 100% accurate information from ANY source, you’re fooling yourself. IFLS did better than most sources do when it came to correcting their mistake with this article. Their 2nd article explaining why the first one was “less than accurate” (most of the data was accurate, but the conclusion was overblown), was given just as much visibility as the original article (where as most publications publish their mistakes in an unrelated “retractions” section that no one ever looks at).

    Oddly enough, this is how science itself works. When better information becomes available, it replaces any inaccurate information. Science makes no claims of 100% accuracy, it’s simply the process of obtaining the best understanding we can regarding a subject. There isn’t an ounce of shame in being wrong when it comes to science, because being wrong is just another step leading to the discovery of more accurate information. …Just like IFLS releasing an explanation of the flaws in the first story.

    If the IFLS crew is out there reading this (though I really hope they aren’t wasting their time):
    You’re doing what you can to help make science attractive, “cool”, and fun for the average person, educating as well as entertaining them, and that’s a truly great purpose. I believe you accomplish it very well, and for that, I will always be a fan.

    1. Author

      The issue is not that they aren’t 100% accurate, but rather that they intentionally mislead readers for pageviews. If this were a one-off example where they posted an incorrect conclusion and then clearly corrected their error I’d have no problem with it. There are good practices in science communication that IFLS has decided not to follow.

  39. So i get that IFLS isn’t the most trust worthy site, but what pages would be good to follow?

  40. Brian, I understand your position on the matter. Yes, science should be about accuracy. IFLS aren’t the ones doing the research. They’re journalists, communicating things in the field of science to the general public, who may not have access to or know where to find such information. I haven’t see anything negative on their page yet. Personally, I don’t care if it’s correct or not. They aren’t posting about things taking place in other news. It focuses on science content. The fact they’ve managed to stick to this, and not deviate to the more sensational news that is promoted daily (i.e. shootings, robberies, deaths, etc.) Is enough for me to continue to follow their page. This is the news people need to see. This shows not only good in the world, but that the human race is still doing something worth while on this planet. Who cares if they grab some attention with their headlines. They’re pulling people away from main stream media which is a good thing. I did a project for one of my college classes on the topic of why people shouldn’t watch the news. In the studies I read, there was a strong correlation between high levels of news consumption and negative psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety. This translates into irrational behavior as well. I’m sure the IFLS post didn’t incite riots, or cause people to loos their minds. No one jumped off a building because their might be an ice age in 15 years. Instead, they might have had a conversation about it.Hypothetically, the word “sun spots,” “ice age,” and “science,” were used in a conversation between two adults whose lives probably very rarely revolve around this. They’ve gotten people into the discussion. I don’t care how. Neil deGrasse Tyson has gotten the same results from some of his twitter posts. Specifically the Nascar one if I remember correctly. Again, it’s about the discussion. I would rather see people arguing about science than race, religion, or political beliefs. If the lot of want to condemn them for occasionally posting something that is attention grab it, so be it. I’m sure they aren’t too concerned. But instead of bashing them, and looking at the negative side of things like most media does, why not just let it be. They’re getting people talking about science. They aren’t promoting not using vaccines or not eating GMOs. If you’re worried about accuracy and misinformation, start there. I think you’re fighting the wrong fight.

    1. Brian’s failure to reply to you shows that he knows you are right.

      1. Author

        I’m tempted to write a whole post on the comment, since it seems to sum up a common attitude of IFLS supporters. Apparently it doesn’t matter if the science is accurate, so long as it gets people to talk about “science!” Who cares about actually understanding topics, so long as you can appear to be smart…

  41. I had a run in with Elise too. She’s not very forgiving and won’t listen to reason at all. I do believe she was noble in her pursuit of trying to get more people interested in science, but stuff started to go downhill when she started the external website – click bait and traffic driving articles, poorly written or plagiarised copy.

    My run in occurred when I accused her of trying to cash in on the popularity of ifls with merchandise, merchandise that was stolen from another independent jewellery designer. She definitely doesn’t like her faults being pointed out, and will shit on people rather than talk it out. A pity, because she will lose credibility with the audience she ostensibly cares most about – the scientists and the science. She seems to care about their opinions, or she did at least once. Oh well, thanks for keeping us honest with articles like this.

  42. I agree with you, specially when it comes to this specific issue (the mini-ice age). However I do believe IFLS has donde a good job of bringing science news to people, as they write about a very wide range of scientific events and topics. Of course they can be quite sensationalist sometimes, but I believe that comes with being one of me the most popular science news pages on facebook. This does not necessarily mean they are “ant-science”. Maybe people were initially mislead into thinking there would be a “mini ice age”, but also probably some of those readers also learnt about sunspots and solar cycles along the way (just an example); and this is from one of their more sensationalist posts. If you take a look at most posts on their site you will see the majority are not misleading of “like-fishing”in this manner, and are actually communicating from a variety of different fields in science to a more general public which otherwise might not have had the opportonity to learn about these.

    I agree they should diminish behaviour of this sort in order to boost popularity, but discrediting the whole page as “anti-science” for a couple of sensationalist titles seems exaggerated, and truly “anti-science”.

    1. Of course they do, John, go to a random university and ask the young researchers!

  43. I can verify it, IFLS sells fake apples. Red and big from the outside but rotten inside.

    It happen me once with an article which, was published first on /the Conversation/ talking about the energy requirements of the hypothetical new fastest train in Japan.

    After clicking in IFLS, because of the lack of veracity of the scientific things they were saying, I was redirected to the Conversation, where IFLS had taken the article from.

    I had the time to read the surprisingly sensationalist (sarcasm on) article, which was clearly lacking of scientific rigour, and wrote a long comment on it, correcting all the wrong things they were saying. Basically it was proofing all the mathematical models that they were badly describing. After that they wrote me back saying that the things they were explaining were aimed at another public and my comment was deleted.

    Actually the article was formerly written by a distinguished University professor and then sensationalistically modified by the Conversation Guys. IFLS had only to make a web-link to it with a small description.

    That is my story Brian.

    Because tremendously, astonishing, enormously sell more than quadratically and cubically.

    Good Afternoon,

    JC

  44. Is this the only thing IFLS has ever gotten wrong and failed to correct?

      1. It’s a pattern seen on many sites though.

        I think the issue is when they want to leave their day job and become a full time science commentator. You make a choice

        Either you drive views to get the revenue stream, have a cult of personality, have some “marketing point of difference”

        Or

        You do straight science and expect smaller audience.

        SGU do it well, but they all have day jobs. I doubt it does much more than break even.

  45. Please tell me where i can get relevant science data and updates then, because i have noticed many misleading things from IFLS, and have mentioned that they shouldn’t mislead people as such, but i was never responded to.

      1. IFLScience created a type of tabloid page for science. I also realized that the quality of reporting is declining and that one article will only reference one paper for example.

        For now though, I will continue following them, not really for science, but as part of my daily social fix. I’ll check out these other pages though 🙂

  46. with all the shite clickbait around about endless pointless lists of celebs and ‘funny things’ and ‘things you didn’t know’, I don’t blame IFLscience for having the odd attention grabbing article/headline, anything that gets more people into science and away from celebrity obsession is a good thing. Anyone with a brain can then research something online to see if an article holds weight, what we don’t need are for science websites trying to shoot each other down like it’s an American presidential campaign. Stop being elitist wankers and shitting on another site using the same clickbait tactics that they have. Calling IFL science “Anti-science” smacks of the tripe that comes from American presidential campaigns. It’s embarrassing and I’ll be unfollowing you on Facebook and suggesting friends do the same.

  47. I don’t really agree with such a strong criticism for IFLS. I do agree they do not do science journalism –as in seek out multiple sources and present a balanced deduction of their findings. Rather, they describe individual research press releases, which do inevitably contradict each other. In the article linked, the scientist Valentina Zharkova is quoted as discussing the Maunder minimum, which wikipedia tells you is linked with a mini-ice age. It’s certainly an eye-catching headline, but I wouldn’t describe it as wrong at the time?

    It would be better if they referred back to their articles when they contradict, but I think their main aim is to give a flavour of the week.

    It’s also worth noting that ‘The Conversation’ actively encourages republication of their articles by having a well advertised creative commons license. My articles there are reproduced all over the place from Gizmodo to Quartz.

  48. (Slight correction to my previous comment — my bad, I didn’t read the second article carefully — it _was_ poor to shout ‘ice age’ without discussing weather implications with someone from the research team.

    I do still have some sympathy with their aim of publishing commentary on individual press releases (rather than full journalistic pieces) to give a flavour of current science — at least in principal)

  49. I found it very interesting you attributed scibabe at the end of the article, mainly because as I was reading it I thought “this is where scibabe is heading. I reckon next year we will see the same articles about her page”

    So when I got to the end and saw the HT to scibabe I nearly spat coffee on my screen.

    The issue is when the content becomes less important that either the page views,the revenue stream, or the person presenting the content.

  50. I think everybody with a grasp of science and also online marketing can pretty easily see that the IFLS site evolved into clickbait/spam.

  51. I think IFLS is a tabloid for “science”. As far as both scientific or economic/political issues are concerned, of course we would like people to form an accurate, differentiated view of the facts.
    But when many do not spend the time or do not have any interest in becoming knowledgable about an issue, I support the second best option: Which is to sway the public in a vaguely positive direction. Sadly, especially in America, that often means to direct people from superstitious, faith-based ideas towards the general idea of “science”. That broad change of direction, of course, is miles away from what we would expect of scientists and scientifically informed people. But when we look at a society and we find more and more people who are generally willing to trust science and scientists rather than oppose them, then this makes governing a lot easier a lot of the time. Again, it is miles away from a population that is actually scientifically informed. IFLS may merely turn them into science sympathizers and hopefully, after that gateway drug, people become more interested into anything related to science and they will automatically stumble upon real scientists and more credible sources.

    So, yes, I agree with every shortcoming that has been pointed out regarding IFLS. But to call them anti-science, especially in face of an American society where some people still believe in creationism, seems very harsh in relative terms. Instead, I think most people take IFLS for what it is. Broad science “PR”. It is to science what self-help seminars are to proper psychotherapy: A lot of babbling, but somewhere in the right direction.

    1. Thank you. I thought calling them “anti-science” in this time of creationism and deniers of every truth out there was way overdone on the basis of a couple articles. Considering how many public figures and website/news editors out there LIVE on outright lies and ignorance, I enjoy an intellectual science-based point of view and I still wouldn’t take anything for fact without corroborating it as I would with anyone’s article.

  52. the evolution of ifls went from posting simple photos via fb with tidbits of information to posting clickbait topics that we click to find out details while ifls rake in web traffic and bombard you with ads. ifls also had a rabid history of taking infographics that others designed, photoshopping them to remove the original artist’s signature and superimposing ifls as the creator.

    one such great internet science communicator that ifls often hijacked their work, is Hashem Al-Ghaili via https://www.facebook.com/ScienceNaturePage (there’s a photo on his page that shows the before/after of his work being butchered by ifls).

    ifls evolved into a business that simply share anything that’s trending without taking the time to verify the science behind it. case in point, the sharing of the recent ‘what does one can of coca cola do to your body’; it was filled with nonsense.why couldn’t ifls simply uphold it’s original design, which is to simply place photos via fb with tidbits of information? it evolved into a business that has a staff, website costs, and other costs that make it susceptible in justifying its actions like so many other businesses. i have never used ifls as a source of legitimate information. i use my science magazines, nature journals, and research articles via reputable journals as my source of good founded science. ifls was simply a ‘cool’ fb page with interesting pictures to glance at. but now all that is removed and replaced with clickbait articles in order to profit from your traffic. it is why i no longer follow them.

    ifls received a further boost when elise stated that she was attacked with threats for being a female. i have known (along with many others) that a female operated ifls fb’s page for quite a while. drama on the web gets picked up by blogs and other media outlets and expound in length on a one sentence claim. when i heard of the attacks with threats, it didn’t make sense. i spent about 1.5 hours scouring through all the twitter, youtube, and fb comments and didn’t find any threats like she stated. i did ask her to link me to some of the threats she spoke of, but responded by blocking me. i had thought about writing a blog post regarding the inaccuracies and the funky business model of ifls, but in the era of political correctness, i would be bashed as some hater/anti-women by extreme feminists or such. i’m happy to see a few emerging articles that cover this topic.

  53. I presume this article comes from jealousy. The people who follow IFLS understand that it is one woman posting stories as they come, not a team. I got the right idea from the last post correcting the previous ones. And I will undoubtedly see her posts for a long time to come, whereas I will likely never read an article by this author as long as I live.

  54. So the “correction” is a plagiarism and thus IFLS can be prosecuted? Or does that stuff somehow work differently on the internet?

  55. The problem with the internet, is that nobody can ever do anything right, so as to satisfy everyone, so everywhere someone’s complaining about SOMETHING that someone else didn’t do PERFECTLY right according to how THEY think it should have been done or said.

    Then someone else spends 2 pages writing about how horrible it is.

    Give me a F* break.

    1. Author

      It’s really a matter of IFLScience being dishonest. This wasn’t simply a mistake, it was a willful decision to overhype results. There was then a second willful decision not to retract an incorrect story. IFLScience also has a history of doing this kind of thing.

      1. IFL Science wasn’t “dishonest”. It made a mistake. There’s a difference. Then they published an article CORRECTING it, but that wasn’t enough for people like YOU.

        Just THINK for a moment, before getting all high-and-mighty. Posting the correction while leaving the original article in place shows a lot more integrity, than simply deleting the article in error. Posting the correction IS a retraction (oh, how terribly awful of them for not using the word “retraction” so as to make you feel better about it).

        If you can’t rationalize that posting the correcting article, and linking to it from the original, isn’t by nature a “retraction”, then you have no business criticizing in the first place.

        The only dishonesty and hyping was on the part of Dan Hyde of The Telegraph, which is where the original information was sourced from (which is what H/T means, in case you weren’t aware of that).

        If you want to blame people for being dishonest, PICK THE RIGHT TARGET.

  56. The little dweebs defending IFLS are kinda adorable – they remind me of the ‘bro army’, apparently IFLS can do no wrong, like (S)pewdiepie, appropriate given the quality is about the same. I did follow IFLS years ago when it was links to cool stuff, then it became that clickbait site full of shallow inaccurate junk and I gave up.
    The quality of the defender’s comments here tells you why they keep reading IFLS, they either have utterly missed things you ave said and having a go at you for not saying them, or are saying you have said things you haven’t, or dont understand what science is, and if you are anti continual refinement you are anti science.
    Anyway- thank you for tweaking the tail -0 its been fun seeing 🙂 Good luck with the fanboys (and girls)

  57. Hater. IFLS is integral in popularizing science and assisting in getting the youth to be interested in science. It’s by no means pseudo-science and you’re basing your entire article on ONE IFLS article. It’s a fun website that should exist. Quit being a negative nancy. And stop responding to comments on your own comments page. You look desperate for attention.

    1. Author

      I didn’t call it pseudo-science, I called it anti-science. By the way, if replying to comments on my own blog makes me desperate for attention, what does that say about someone who decides to leave a ranting comment on a blog they don’t read…

  58. You fixed it! IFLS is suddenly awash in reasonable headlines and readably popularized science posts. I realize you just kinda smacked it on one side like a blitzed out TV from the 60s, but it worked. Thank you.

  59. You just seem really really bitter. IFLS isn’t a conglomeration of scientists, it’s a single person. And, you know what, not every scientist believes the same things. Some scientists believe there will be warming, some don’t. But, regardless, I’ve never viewed the page as “the gospel of science” or anything like that…just really cool and fun science articles. But, I guess it’s easy to point out where someone errs. And this “article” certainly didn’t seem very scientific…just someone who doesn’t like IFLS.

  60. I’m often fascinated by IFLS articles, and I think that’s the point — to reach the reasonably intelligent, curious non-scientist. If the site’s content and its owner’s methods don’t meet the standards of the better scientific publications, I honestly don’t care and I doubt the majority of readers do, either.

  61. Ifls has truly become a bit of a joke in the science world. The writers are amateur journo’s at best. It seems like the brand is run by teenagers. You can only imagine how their office is run…

  62. Ho-hum, just another jealous guy with an obscure website, who genuinely believes that the way to elevate yourself is not by being creative and smart, like Elise, but by tearing down those above him. And – trust me on this – ILFS IS very much above you.

  63. I was just pit in Facebook jail for 3 days after posting intelligent rebuttals to their constant Doomsday Climate Change agenda. Clearly an organization that does not promote the sharing of opposing opinion or thought. What is really sad is how many followers or their Facebook and website are duped into believing their propaganda.

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