Where Do You Get Your Science?


It might be getting more difficult to be a science consumer if your taste runs to the printed, papery word.

According Christopher Zara, writing for theInternational Business Times:

In 1989, the number of newspapers with weekly science sections was 95. Today, that number is down to 19, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. That’s a big drop, even for one of the fastest declining industries in the country.

To me – and not just because I write about science–this decline doesn’t reflect what I’ve seen as a growing interest in science and general geekery. My sense of this growing affinity for science isn’t just picking up the sound of my own echo chamber; in his story, Zara quotes a Wall Street Journal editor making quite a similar observation.

People who write about science and who write about it well tend to be specialists, and specialists cost more than an on-the-ground generalist just out of college and desperate for a job in the ever-shrinking print journalism job market. And evidently advertising dollars have something to do with the decline in newspaper sections addressing science. I’d also suggest an obvious reason: Newspapers suffer from another malady, a certain viral affliction that’s hit the print world hard. Sad to say, I’m a part of the contagion now.

Written By: Emily Willingham
continue to source article at forbes.com


  1. (I suspect like most of the people on the RD site )for news on up-to-the-minute scientific advances, I rely heavily on online sources, even my FB connections, since so many of them are academics and a few are scientists themselves. But for the paper-in-hand experience, I buy real books, by Richard Dawkins, Niels deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox. The latter urge brings me to the popular science section of my local English language bookstore (I live in Belgium) and the discovery of yet other authors. I just treated myself to a very nice biography of Isaac Newton. None of that will qualify me for a degree in any science, but it does keep me about as informed as the average (intelligent) layperson.

  2. I’ve never, IIRC, gotten any useful science from newspapers, which I rarely read. I’ve never had a newspaper subscription, and only occasionally read one lying around at a coffee shop or suchlike.

    I get some info on a few Ontario tv channels, but mainly I got my education from books & some magazines. In the past 15 years, I’ve kept up with science on-line, with pointers from FB & linked communities. There is so much available now that being uninformed is self-imposed.

    My computer bookmarks a wide range of sources, so I’ll never run out of up-to-date, low cost, real-time data & opinions – something nobody could say before 10 years ago. I am infinitely more informed than I was 40 years ago, thanks to a multitude of scientists working in many fields, all brought to my desk by the amazing results of computerization.

    Also, there’s a large reduction in resources, time, travel, waste & pollution by my living this way. I wish we were planting trees instead of killing, reading, burning, or hanging decorations on them…. 😎

  3. The subtitle here states “Foundation for Reason and Science.” Yes very good, but it has more to do with being anti-theist, OK I get this. I can relate.Personally, I have come here to learn more about science [and to have a more intelligent (mature) conversation than Pharyngula.] ((Since I have always claimed that I am probably the least scientifically literate person here.) In all honesty, I think I need to get some kiddie books or watch Phil Nye the Science Guy. I understand more about biology but know nothing of physics. If someone like me can admit this, imagine what the average population understands. Perhaps this site could have a remedial/basic science section – say physics 101, etc. or at least a section with links to legitimate science sites and materials for parents, and the science hungry.

  4. Qkat,
    Over on Pharyngula, PZ Myers has been posting his daily Developmental Biology topics that he covers in class. There are also tons of cool free lectures and lessons on iTunesU on many many topics, including Physics 101…. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do all I wish I could do.

  5. QuestioningKat:

    Don’t look any further for a science primer than RD’s Magic of Reality. A better description of the scientific method would be hard to find.

  6. Where Do You Get Your Science?

    Youtube. There are a lot of good science channels over there. Just don’t get too distracted with the cute cat videos and dudes getting hit in the groin.

  7. the number of weekly science sections is down, and the number of daily sports sections is up – sport trumps science, and that together with religion, and the preoccupation with celebrity equals a crap world.

  8. I buy books and subscribe to magazines such as Scientific American. There are useful online resources as well like Science Daily or Phys.org. Science reporting is dreadful in the major newspapers, sensationalism rules. You’ll see titles such as “Astronomers on the verge of discovering alien life”, only to find that the article describes the discovery of a new extra-solar planet.

  9. In reply to #4 by Anvil:

    From a small metal box that lives under my bed.


    Really? I get mine from a vending machine.

  10. In reply to #10 by andyb:

    I buy books and subscribe to magazines such as Scientific American.

    For me, library books and, yes, Scientific American but the latter should be renamed something like ‘Techno American’, so much of it seems increasingly geared to “Big Science” and how to make mega bucks out of it. Its 2-page glitzy title pages to flimsy articles and its full page ads for Lockheed Martin, GM, Chevron, etc. are beginning to grate.

  11. Never ever newspapers. They are a sustained disgrace.

    Where possible scientists in the specific field.

    Books by ditto.

    Specialist science mags.

    General science mags, with caution, but as a good stimulus to go and find more.

    BBC Radio 4 podcasts as above. (These are great portable, walking, cycling, driving inputs)

    Scientist authored TV science programs.

    Following my nose on the intertubes. Wiki is not bad. Reading the talk page is worth getting a handle on controversial aspects.

  12. In reply to #14 by phil rimmer:

    Never ever newspapers. They are a sustained disgrace.

    I find newspapers quite useful – for lining seed-trays containing potting compost – for growing botanical specimens or garden produce. They have their scientific uses!

    They are also good for lighting camp-fires or rubbish fires.

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