In which evil boffins seek revenge

(Scroll to bottom for Official SpoofJenks blog aggregate!)

Those of you not immersed in the UK science media scene are missing out on a national treasure. I mean, of course, none other than the Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins who, although he clams no special expertise or experience in science, feels free to denounce it on a regular basis. No area seems exempt from his scorn: whether scientists are involved in analyzing climate change, ash clouds, BSE or swine ‘flu, they are probably up to no good.

In the past, at least one nature Network denizen – Stephen Curry – has attempted to counter Jenkins’ rants with a published rebuttal, but he told me today that he doubted it made a difference.

On Friday, Jenkins was at it again, issuing a confused and diffuse attack on the institution of science. He slammed the outgoing President of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, for defending the Large Hadron Collider and the importance of science to society in his Reith lectures. He heaped vitriol on the new UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation building going up in London because it is apparently a “cathedral of science, justified by faith, not reason”. He actually said scientists, and I quote, “just want money”. Money, folks, is the only reason why we’re in the science game. (Someone just told me how much Jenkins earns for writing his columns, and I can assure you that it’s far more lucrative than my post-doctoral stipend.)

And most bizarrely, he lavished scorn onto the BBC for “cramming” its airways with too much science content. When I tweeted this, Nicolas Fanget helpfully googled up the BBC iPlayer’s factual category items that day: Art, culture, media=122, History=49; Science & Nature=70. If you keep in mind that “nature” is not really science, including as it does stories about pandas being born in zoos and the like, then accusing the BBC of doing too much science is pretty baffling. I listen to Radio 4 a lot at random times and the chances of hitting anything about science is pretty slim – it is almost all drama, history, news, literature and the arts. In other words, the stuff Jenkins thinks is most important.

So I’ve been thinking to myself, can I really let Jenkins get away with painting me and all my colleagues as no-good, money-grubbing evil boffins? In the relaxed Saturday morning Twitter stream, some of us talked about how we might, yet again, try to rebut. Stephen opined that humor might be the best approach, building on the wonderful spoof post of UCL physicist Jon Butterworth. I then proposed making Monday “Spoof Jenks” day, with bloggers taking the opportunity to write an anti-science post in the style of Simon Jenkins. And I’m pleased to report that the idea has taken off.

So take a look at the original offending Jenkins post, as well as Butterworth’s reply. If you’re a blogger and fancy having a go, please do so and then deposit your link in my comment stream, or otherwise let me know, so I can aggregate the responses. If you’re not a blogger but think it’s a good idea, please spread the word. The official hashtag is #SpoofJenks; if you link to this post at the top of your spoof, it might help stave off any confusion about your state of sanity.

We don’t have to take this lying down. Let’s see if Jenkins can take what he so much loves dishing out.

Official aggregate (last updated 29 June 08.14 BST)

Get over it, scientists: your cushy days are numbered by me! – UCL cell biologist Jennifer Rohn

Urgent new priority for UK science by Imperial College structural biologist Stephen Curry

A Mammoth of Research by UCL physicist Jon Butterworth

Jenks from tectum to rectum by UCL biologist Steve Moss

Perpetual Poetry in Motion by “resident New Age values proponent and spiritual thinker” Boris Cockpop on the skeptics webzine The Twenty-first

Not a guest post and not by Simon Jenkins by student of astrophysics Philip Stobbart

Simon Jenkins collects his tithe by science writer Brian Clegg

A day in the life of Simon Jenkins by blogger Martyn Norris

We know too much by “full-time nerd” and blogger John Kennedy

Cancer: Scaremongering ‘Scientists’ Ramp Up The Fear by blogger jdc325

Bloody scientists think they know everything by blogger Rantarama

Dictatorial scientists want us to marvel at their “magic” by post-doctoral astronomer Niall Deacon

Please help Simon by blogger Telescoper

Whicker’s world by science communicator and Nature Network blogger Richard Grant (I knew it was only a matter of time before someone brought cheese into it!)

Journalists, you are fallible. Get off the pedestal and join the common herd by statistician and Nature Network blogger Bob O’Hara

The mammoth in the room by Matt Parker at StandUpMaths

Fifth column by University of Manchester physiologist and NN blogger Austin Elliott

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Lord Paul of Oberhausen FRS by Imperial College London particle physicist Tom Whyntie

The trouble with science by skeptics blogger The Heresiarch

That’s why I am in it, for the money by Kings College London biophysicist Sylvia McClain

I am giving up science by Queen’s University Ontario neuroscientist Carl Jackson

Science education? Humph! by blogger Sonia Furtado

About Jennifer Rohn

Scientist, novelist, rock chick
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104 Responses to In which evil boffins seek revenge

  1. Eva Amsen says:

    Not really tempted to read the offending post after that review! I’m probably better off never having read it – heh. I’m also going to totally miss the joke on Monday, and hope that all spoof posts are properly labeled as such, ’cause that will be pretty confusing otherwise. I might just think everyone went crazy! I mean, more than the regular amount of crazy!
    And I’ll make sure to schedule my own (normal) post that I’m writing for another day, so people don’t think it’s some kind of spoof…

  2. Jennifer Rohn says:

    I’m just going to preface mine with a little note and a link to this blog. I have faith in the intelligence of my readership.
    The Jenkins piece is so bad it’s actually rather entertaining.

  3. Brian Derby says:

    Simon Jenkin’s article follows a thread he has peddled for a number of years. If you read the comment thread you will note that there is at least one comment theat commends thae article as well written twaddle. And that is the problem with inviting the many to write article in his style, because most people do not carry it off. The example you have cited is too clumsy to be effective. Our only hope is to determine when he verges into self-parody – he is getting quite close to it.
    By way of a general comment on Simon Jenkin’s Comment is Free article in the Guardian, it is interesting to note that he never enters the thread, unlike some other writers of online articles. Perhaps as a traditional print journalist he believes in statement rather than conversation or discussion?

  4. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Oh, I reckon you shouldn’t disqualify us automatically from being able to spoof this guy. I have a good idea, and I know that Curry is on to it as well. It’s all just a bit of fun, even if we can’t quite be as tedious as the real McCoy.
    I always thought he didn’t engage because a lot of his points are weak and not easily defended.

  5. Stephen Curry says:

    Brian – this Emperor of opinion has no clothes and it is down to us to point out his scrawny nakedness.
    Serious rebuttal elicited no response whatsoever. We might as well show him that scientists are not reverends but really rather irreverent — in all things except our careful consideration of the evidence, a trait sorely missing in his awful scientific diatribes.
    I aim to have some fun with this… and am grateful to Jon Butterworth and Jenny for setting the ball rolling.

  6. Eva Amsen says:

    “I have faith in the intelligence of my readership.”
    Even on a Monday?

  7. Stephen Moss says:

    Jenkins’ rant is so absurd that ridicule is really the only way to respond. I love the #spoofjenks blog idea, and a great opportunity for scientists to have a bit of fun on Monday.

  8. Richard P. Grant says:

    I heartily APPROVE and ENDORSE this PRODUCT and/or SERVICE.

  9. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Stephen (M.), thanks. I know you have already done a splendid one, which I’ll big up in the aggregate on Monday. But for a sneak preview, all, it’s here:
    Stephen (C.), I look forward to seeing your piece! After your excellent “Cheesiness of Britain” film, I have no doubts of your talents in the parody department.
    I have to say I’m a bit nervous now – my idea feels workable but I have yet to set it down in writing. I’m hoping everyone won’t be as critical as Brian!

  10. Nicolas Fanget says:

    I hope to put something together, but I feel like I’ll be stretching my literary capacities! I’ll play the “English as second language” card to avoid complete embarrassment!

  11. Stephen Curry says:

    Hey Jenny – you’re the one who’s the published novelist. I’m sure it’ll be great! 😉

  12. Jennifer Rohn says:

    I can do serious and I can do humorous, but parody is definitely an art, and it’s one I’ve never tried. So I can’t vouch for its quality. My favorite parodist of all time is Jim Crace, who does ‘digested reads’ of novels to brutal effect. I’d love to see Crace do a Jenks – though perhaps being a fellow Guardian writer, it might be frowned upon. (Mind you, the Guardian affiliation is not stopping Alok Jha from publicly supporting SpoofJenks.
    Nicolas, so glad you’re on board!

  13. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Ooh, another person too keen to wait til Monday!
    BorisCockpop defends perpetual motion (
    (source: The 21st Floor)
    Brilliant. This post has made me realize that a good parody of Jenkins has to involve lots of putting phrases into quotation marks to indicate you think it’s bollocks. Take note, all.

  14. Mike Fowler says:

    Top idea.
    One can only imagine that Jenkins was hoping that we’d all be so offended by such blinding nincompoopery that we’d scarper back up to the ivory towers.
    Coming out en masse and ridiculing him in public is so much more appropriate!

  15. Jennifer Rohn says:

    So can we count on you to chime in, Mike? I do hope so – I like the way you write.
    I’ve finished mine and I was surprised by how much fun it was to try to write in someone else’s style while still making a serious point. Very cathartic overall. I’ll pop it up in the morning.

  16. Ian Brooks says:

    I’d love to give this a go, but as Jenny says, parody is hard. I’m not sure my meager talents are up to the job…I’m might just be very rude over at The Other Place

  17. Richard P. Grant says:

    Rude? You?

  18. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Send us the link to any rudeness if it materializes – at least one of the pieces I know is coming tomorrow is not a parody per se but a humorous take on SJ. Also, you don’t have to post it on NN to participate.

  19. Grant Jacobs says:

    I’ve posted a short promotion of your efforts on my blog (hidden away in this week’s Sunday reading list). I doubt I have time, but I’m tempted to try take his essay and simply substitute words and names…
    Then again, maybe that’d breach copyright or some other thing they’d complain about?
    I wouldn’t know enough about England now to do a good job on this either really. (Who is saying what, etc…)
    On a more serious note, among all the wrongs in his article this sweeping generalisation is measurably false:
    Besides, science is all on the internet.
    If only. I recall Bora recently tweeted a survey reporting the percentage of journals that are open access. It’s not 100%, not even close.

  20. Philip Stobbart says:

    Here’s my go at this:
    Not quite brief enough to be an actual newspaper column…

  21. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks Philip – I’ll add you on to the aggregate in a few moments!

  22. Brian Clegg says:

    I’m afraid I didn’t quite stick to the brief, but I hope this counts:

  23. Martyn Norris says:

    I loved the idea of #SpoofJenks so I’ve written my own blog post,, I’m sure it’s less good than other here but it was fun to write. It’s called “A day in the life of Simon Jenkins”

  24. Martyn Norris says:

    I loved the idea of #SpoofJenks so I’ve written my own blog post,, I’m sure it’s less good than other here but it was fun to write. It’s called “A day in the life of Simon Jenkins”

  25. Martyn Norris says:

    I loved the idea of #SpoofJenks so I’ve written my own blog post,, I’m sure it’s less good than other here but it was fun to write. It’s called “A day in the life of Simon Jenkins”

  26. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks Brian, thanks Martyn – you’ve been added to the list! Martyn, I couldn’t find your affiliation on your blog, if you want me to add it just let me know.

  27. Mike Fowler says:

    Jenny, I don’t think I’ll join in. I heartily endorse the idea, and I’m loving reading everyone else’s great efforts, but time is a cruel mistress at the moment. Wasn’t she always?
    I will mention that the standard of writing that passes as “journalism” in the Grauniad in recent weeks has been deplorable. Utter pish, to use my natal dialect.
    Jenkins is only the latest in a series of foolish, lazily written and/or poorly researched articles/discussions. Alok Jha should also have known better than giving space to the anti-vax cranks to vent their nonsense that a few at NN have tried to bring up to speed with reality.
    But thanks for the kind words and good luck spreading the word!

  28. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks Mike, I quite understand! Entries coming in thick and fast so we have critical mass enough to make our point. Thanks for pointing out that other piece as well…

  29. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks for your contribution, John – you’ve been added to the aggregate!

  30. Eva Amsen says:

    Nice collection already, and it’s only just Monday morning! I’m almost tempted to start reading up on Mr. Jenkins’ published work so I can understand the parodies.

  31. Mike Hardaker says:

    My blog – I don’t know much about science but I know what I like. Not a spoof, more a look at the evil boffins’ approach to #SpoofJenks day:

  32. Mark O'Hara-Thomas says:

    My blog – “Bloody scientists. Think they know everything.”

  33. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Mark, I’ve already got you on the aggregate – do you want my to add your name in instead of your blogname?
    Mike – thanks so much for the supportive coverage. I’m glad you see the significance of our grassroots effort.

  34. Jennifer Rohn says:

    By the way, all the action seems to have moved over to Twitter. If you follow real-time results for #SpoofJenks, you can see that our original idea has mutated into two more wonderful offshoots – people are tweeting in the style of Jenks, and also @spoofjenks himself has come to life to slag everyone off. Brilliant. Alok Jha is going to see if the Guardian Media want to cover our little revolution too – fingers crossed.

  35. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks Niall – I’ve added you to the list!

  36. Jennifer Rohn says:

    yes, got it via Twitter! Awesome.

  37. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Richard’s been added to the list – check it out. Bob, I’m on yours now!

  38. Tom Webb says:

    Really enjoying all of these – sorry, no time to contribute one today, but am appreciating your efforts. Would be nice to think that a journalist or two might see them. And Bob – you’ve articulated what has been a massive whinge of mine for some time!

  39. Jennifer Rohn says:

    The spoof Tweets on twitter are also fun, if you’re time-poor. Even comedian Robin Ince has got in on the act! Just filter for #spoofjenks.

  40. Stephen Curry says:

    And one more from Matt parker (aka @StandUpMaths):

  41. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Right, I’m on it. Thanks!

  42. Richard P. Grant says:

    a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>cough

  43. Jennifer Rohn says:

    And…we’re live in the Guardian! Thanks to everyone who helped trend this topic into the mainstream, where Jenkins might actually see it!

  44. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Got it, cheers! Woo-hoo!

  45. Åsa Karlström says:

    aww, this is awesome. I have so much to read when I get home tonight! lovely 🙂
    Jenny, I really like the post. Very good!

  46. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Tom Whyntie’s piece now linked in the aggregate – very nice!

  47. Jennifer Rohn says:

    And two more to wrap it up – though if any more trickle in I’ll certainly post it.
    Meanwhile Jon Butterworth had a nice wrap-up of the whole viral experience on the Guardian Science Blog, here, including snippets of his favorite Jenkins and pseudo-Jenkinisms:

  48. Sonia Furtado says:

    I liked the idea so much I had to join in… it’s not quite in the same league as some of the other entries, I fear, but here goes:
    Congrats on taking the idea this far!

  49. Stephen Curry says:

    What a day! Fabulous, fabulous work Jenny – have a well-deserved drink!

  50. James Hayton says:

    Sorry to be a killjoy, but I don’t like it when criticism gets too personal. Some of the posts left a sour taste IMHO.
    Why I’m not spoofing Jenks

  51. Jennifer Rohn says:

    It’s a valid viewpoint, James. From my point of view, he’s been trashing scientists in public for so long that the relatively mild teasing he got yesterday scarcely made the balance quiver: his digs may not be personal, but that doesn’t mean they don’t cause harm, especially as thousands of people get to read his thoughts. But it’s true, especially pointed satire is not for everyone.
    Sonia, I’ll add your piece to the list!

  52. Stephen Curry says:

    It’s a valid viewpoint James, but not one that I agree with – have left a comment on your blog.

  53. Jennifer Rohn says:

    And I should have added, once Jenkins descended into the personal himself (by viciously attacking Martin Rees), I felt it was justifiable for the gloves to come off.

  54. Nicolas Fanget says:

    Well done everyone and thanks Jenny for your wonderful idea!
    Spoof Jenks Day even made it into the Guardian online (see here and here, as posted above), but not in any other MSM as far as I can tell.
    I’m afraid a perfect storm of Very Important Papers in the Very Important Journal and childcare/home improvement duties prevented me from taking part much, next time maybe, although I’d prefer if there wasn’t an occasion for a next time…

  55. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks, Nicolas. It made it into the Londonist, if that counts as MSM?

  56. Nicolas Fanget says:

    I’ll leave M@ and the others at Londonist to answer that, I was looking for things like Metro, Evening Std, The Sun…

  57. Mark O'Hara-Thomas says:

    Jennifer, sorry I just saw your comment. If you want to put my name up instead if the blog name that’d be great, thanks.

  58. Jennifer Rohn says:

    OK, will do in a bit!

  59. James Hayton says:

    It’s not that satire isn’t to my taste, but I do think that people should think carefully about what they write before it gets too personal. There’s a fine balance to be struck between satire and abuse.
    Yes, Jenkins’ latest offering was personally and generally offensive, but let’s be careful not to sink below his level.

  60. Jennifer Rohn says:

    I think each individual can decide for him or herself how to pitch something they write – I wouldn’t dream of dictating that to another blogger, personally. But that’s just me.

  61. Richard P. Grant says:

    Me too.
    Mud? I love rolling in it.

  62. Pablo Astudillo says:

    I am surprised to see that also in UK there are people throwing crap to scientists and science. I thought it was just in small countries like Chile, where I live and work.
    It seems that scientists just don’t earn space in public newspapers to speak and make rebuttals of the crap published, and we also don’t earn enough respect. I know people that actually think science is a lucrative job.
    A hug from Chile to my scientists fellows.

  63. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Hi Pablo – thanks for that perspective. I think there are some countries where scientists are well-respected (someone once told me that India was one) but I suspect this is the exception rather than the rule. So at least you are in good company!

  64. Nicolas Fanget says:

    From my (admittedly limited) experience of the Middle East, scientists (and medics in particular) are adulated. To the point that you’d hear people say things like "of course he’s right, he’s a doctor!". This is the other extreme we do not want to fall into, where scientists’ authority is seen as unquestionable. Although that definitely isn’t a problem in the UK.

  65. Brian Derby says:

    There is a serious riposte to Simon Jenkin’s article in today’s comment is free, written by Imran Khan, Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

  66. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Yes, I just saw it. It’s great!
    By the way, in the interests of fairness and full disclosure, I read a piece by SJ in the Evening Standard yesterday, about football, which was entertaining, balanced and very well-written. It’s a pity he doesn’t play to his strengths all of the time.

  67. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Nicolas, you are right. There is a fine line between respect and blind trust.

  68. Nicolas Fanget says:

    [off topic]I have a funny/sad story about hospitals in Iraq and relations to patients. Sometimes during power cuts in summer people will admit themselves to hospital, request that they are given saline, rest for a few hours and then go on once the heat has passed. Hospitals have generators and 24/7 AC in some places you see…[/off topic]
    About SJ, I thought his piece in the Guardian about getting rid of all UK armed forces was obviously provocative, but was interesting in questioning the priorities in the government’s budget cuts.

  69. Jennifer Rohn says:

    I think he’s got some particular, very specific personal problem with scientists. I suspect he had a few bad interactions in the past and can’t get past those.

  70. Grant Jacobs says:

    A different idea occurred to me reading his wikipedia entry, which indicates he has been active on HuffPo for quite a while: perhaps he’s picked up on the anti-science leanings so people who write there have. I’ve read others say that the HuffPo has a similar balance, OK off science, dodgy on science. (I couldn’t say either way as I don’t read it.)

  71. James Hayton says:

    I am dictatorial? For saying let’s be careful? I am trying to be a mild voice of moderation. Is that not welcome? If anything if I had skipped the word “let’s” it would have been a more dictatorial comment.
    To dictate what you can or cannot write was clearly not my intention. There is a small minority who don’t like this campaign, despite disliking Jenkins’ work too. Please don’t make personal judgements about me just because I disagree with you.

  72. Jennifer Rohn says:

    And please don’t get upset because I don’t agree with yours. My comment was not meant to be personal; I was merely taking issue with your (for want of a better description) “instructions”. I’m happy for you to air your opinion (which as you’ll recall, I called “valid” in an earlier comment) but when you phrase something like “let’s do this”, the tone is a bit dictatorial, even if you didn’t intend it that way. It wasn’t “clear” at all, and I was responding on that basis.
    As a more general comment, I think free speech is very important, all the more so because different people react to writing in different ways. Many people found the spoofs amusing and useful, and other found them not to their taste: vive la différence. But I don’t agree with any suggestions (expressed elsewhere, not necessarily in this thread) that people who want to engage in such parodies should stop just because some people don’t like them, or don’t approve, or think scientists should somehow be “above” such behavior, or whatever other reasons are given. People should be free to express themselves within the limits of the law, and if people don’t like reading stuff like that, they are always free to refrain.

  73. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Grant, that’s in interesting idea. I’m not familiar with the rag either, except I have the vague feeling it’s very left-wi. Wikipedia says: “The Huffington Post has been criticized by several science bloggers, as well as online news sources, for including articles by supporters of complementary and alternative medicine and anti-vaccine activists.”
    Right up SJ’s street, then.

  74. James Hayton says:

    “Let’s be careful” is not the same as “stop doing this”. Sorry I wasn’t clear enough, but I can’t see how it sounds dictatorial. I said “let’s”, because I consider myself to be on the same side. Asking for caution is not the same as saying stop. Anyway, enough semantics… let’s call a truce?
    I like satire, and as I said in my blog post there have been some gems… but I think the mass effort, and the natural element of competition, might distort what some people think is OK to say about other people.

  75. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Yes, truce: I didn’t mean to cause offense. It’s probably a cultural linguistic thing: in Ohio, “let’s do this” is how teachers or parents order kids about. Should have realized you might not have meant it that way.
    About the mass effort…well, that’s a tricky one. It had to be a group effort to really get noticed, even if after the first few it started to wear a bit thin. Satire is definitely good in small doses – but we didn’t want to exclude anyone who wanted to have a go. My feeling is that most people didn’t read all of them, and probably most were only read by a few. I am also pretty confident that the target probably didn’t read any of them, so I doubt he’s sobbing into his cappuccino…I just hope that some of his readership took notice. Then the next time they see him bashing scientists, they might at least think twice before taking it at face value.

  76. James Hayton says:

    Thanks for the linguistic explanation; now it makes sense… I thought your reaction was a bit strange 🙂

  77. Richard P. Grant says:

    Well, fortunately everybody has at least agreed that SJ is being a jerk, here. Unlike at (one of) my other place(s).

  78. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Wow, that’s quite negative. Would like to sit her down and explain the meaning of the word “epidemic”. And also, “science teacher.” But as we all know, arguing with these sorts is typically not worth the effort.

  79. Richard P. Grant says:

    Yes. I’ve said my piece. Enough rope and all that.

  80. vishal kalel says:

    Dear Jennifer, Stephen and Richard… I apologize to you and all the scientists who wrote constructive spoofs to deplore the Jenkins articles.
    I wrote my last post deliberately “opinionated” since I was experimenting with my blogging skills.
    It was not my intention to undermine your efforts behind the campaign. (but having written the post, i had to defend it.. which I did stubbornly…shame.)
    Especially sorry to Stephen, I was unfair in criticizing you over the single word.. 🙂
    I am longtime fan of Gap, Rants and Space blog and in fact those led me to Nature Network and Science Blogging. So apart from apology, I also owe THANKS to you!

  81. Peter Hague says:

    I’ve done my bit to ridicule Jenkins:
    (The rest of the podcast is also well worth a listen)

  82. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Hi Peter – thanks for letting me know! I’ll take a listen when I get a chance.
    Vishal, you don’t need to apologize. I only bowed out of the discussion on your blog because it seemed I couldn’t get my point across clearly enough. Obviously you are free to have, and defend, your own personal opinion.

  83. Richard P. Grant says:

    Heh. Funny that ‘Confessions’ is now ‘Rants’ in the popular press.

  84. vishal kalel says:

    Funnier part is rant is inseparable part of you.. gRRRant.! 🙂

  85. vishal kalel says:

    It was due to my gross mistake between your “Confessions of formal lab rants” and Austin’s “Not Rating Honestly”. Does it indicate that I am NNing too much and need some rest?
    On the other hand, I am still wondering how did I write Rants… amusing..

  86. Austin Elliott says:

    I’m happy to confess to ranting, if that helps.

  87. Austin Elliott says:

    PS Alok Jha has interviewed Jenkins for the Guardian weekly science podcast. (The Spoofjenks bits is at 22 min 45 in, and goes on until 31:15 or so.)
    Jenkins basically seems to be saying it was “mild criticism” of the way scientists pitch for funding. I don’t think I’m buying it. Some of his comments (e.g. about the relative “value” of funding Alzheimer’s vs. cancer research) also seem to me to confirm his complete ignorance over what he is pontificating about. But have a listen and judge for yourself.

  88. Austin Elliott says:

    Bother – wrong link in that last one. The link to the podcast is here.

  89. Austin Elliott says:

    There is a nicely done literary Jenkins take-off by “Molly001” in the comments thread on the Guardian SpoofJenks piece written by Jon Butterworth.
    Direct link (which may or may not work) is here.

  90. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Austin – I just saw that one – it’s brilliant! Are you saying Molly001 is Butterworth himself?
    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, although Stephen tells me that Jenks said on air that Einstein was the author of the second law of thermodynamics.

  91. Austin Elliott says:

    Oops – my ambiguous phrasing again – just meant the piece in whose comments thread it appeared was by Butterworth. Author “Molly001” is an intermittent commenter at the Guardian blogs/CiF.

  92. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Well, it’s good to know that at least some Guardian commenters have a sense of humor. I did also notice a few well-reasoned posts by people defending what they thought Jenkins was trying to say, which were thought-provoking. And of course not a lot of people being very sanctimonious about how we weren’t being dignified as befits our station and lofty mentality as Scientists – and that it would “damage” our reputation.
    Would these people prefer that we keep silent altogether, or just issue scholarly rebuttals as Stephen tried to – neither of which actually seem to do any good? At least this way, we managed to get Jenkins’s attention. All in all I stand by our strategy as having been highly effective – and continue to disagree that scientists should be “above” humor – and more importantly, self-defense.

  93. Nicolas Fanget says:

    Finally got round to listening to that Guardian podcast, and I am rather underwhelmed by Jenkins’ reply.
    He did not address the points that were raised in various places about his now numerous attacks on science, nor were the sums involved put in context. £7bn for the LHC is actually pretty good value for money, when you consider the amount of work involved, the new ground breaking technology that had to be developed for it (have you seen the size of these super-conducting magnets? also new alloys, networking protocols…) and the sheer number of people that work and will work on it.
    BTW some of this work will have direct applications in energy research. Actually in the latest Nature podcast there are news that an "old" particle accelerator (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California) has been turned into the world’s most powerful X-ray laser (free News and Views). Very powerful lasers are important in triggering and maintaining fusion, so there are definitely applications that Jenkins should find palatable.
    Go to the Graun and see how big science spending is, and compare with how much science/technology improve our lives. Bargain, innit?
    I won’t even start on biological science otherwise this would turn into a lengthy rant. What do you mean, it already has?

  94. Jennifer Rohn says:

    I think there might have been a typo in their headline; surely they meant two-thirds of Daily Mail health headlines are wrong (i.e bear no resemblance to the original research)?

  95. Cath Ennis says:

    This is the first 100-comment blog post I’ve seen on NN in, oh, months!
    Just thought I’d point it out 🙂

  96. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Thanks Cath. It’s good to be back in the saddle. 🙂

  97. Pingback: Sense about peer review | Naturally Selected

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