Category Archives: Research Tools

Finding the Paper Behind the News Story: Two New Tools

Skeptic bloggers have always had a a love-hate relationship with science journalism, as Steve Novella mentioned on his blog last week. On one hand, they keep us in business by making mistakes that we can blog about. But on the other hand those mistakes also damage the public perception of science.

One small aspect of this is the common failure to link to sources online. The bread and butter of science reporting is an article about the results in a new scientific paper. And yet many of these articles will never mention the title of the paper, much less hyperlink to where it could be found online. This leaves skeptical readers at a loss to dig further on the topic.

Ben Goldacre has long hammered on this issue, and even badgered BBC to change their linking policy for quite some time.  Late in 2010 he succeeded in getting BBC to change their policy and to link to sources. But the BBC hasn’t been consistent about applying this policy since, and of course they are only one website.

Two new services emerged this week to attack this particular issue. Read on for more details.

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An inexpensive skeptical tool everyone should have

Much of what we talk about here is relatively new stuff like REST APIs, geotargeting and so on. But some skeptical tools have been around for quite some time. This is just a quick post to sell you on a tool that dates from 1976. It is now priced so low that there is no excuse for you not to have it in your toolbox.

There’s much excitement in skepticism these days, in part because Internet technologies have enabled an influx of new people who are enthusiastic and want to be involved. But as Barbara Drescher lamented over the weekend, many enthusiastic folks who have jumped into skepticism have not yet had time to fully familiarize themselves with the years of work that has gone on since the creation of CSICOP in the mid-1970s. As a new skeptic, how do you catch up with 40+ years of work?

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