Scientists don't put much stock in the popular press. They think reporters do a miserable job covering science, either inflating a story beyond reality or just getting it wrong.

Who can forget the now infamous cancer cure story on page one of the Sunday New York Times four years ago. The news that, in James Watson's reported words, "Judah [Folkman] is going to cure cancer in two years," sent desperate patients running to their oncologists and argumentative science writers logging into chat rooms for weeks afterward. Angiogenesis inhibitors including endostatin are still in clinical trials.

Every coin has two sides, though. Reporters complain that scientists often won't give them the time of day—except to publicize their own results. Nothing sounds more dismissive to a reporter than 'just read my papers.'

Scientists hate it when the press hypes sensational stories, especially on the basis of initial, sometimes poorly designed studies. The...

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