You and Your Friendly Science Journalist Have a Lot in Common. You have to take pity on journalists. Only politicians and lawyers are more universally despised. Scientists in particular have long avoided the press, for reasons that have ranged from an admirable reluctance to toot their own horns, to a less-admirable fondness for stereotyping. "Reporters always get things wrong,"scientists mutter."They take information out of context, they sensationalize our results, and they make us look like fools." And then scientists scratch their heads and wonder why the public is scientifically illiterate— and why, when they dip expectantly into the public coffers, they sometimes come up empty-handed.

In fact, what many scientists may not realize is that science journalists by and large are conscientious specialists who genuinely love their chosen subject. Unlike the paparazzi who hover around celebrities waiting for the latest bit of succulent if embarrassing gossip, science journalists are more...

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