The Problem With Science Communication

The Problem With Science Communication

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Huge thanks to Carlo Rovelli:
And Geraint Lewis:

Images and references:
Holographic wormhole, via Nature –

‘Did physicists create a wormhole in a quantum computer?’ by Davide Castelvecchi, via Nature –

Traversable Holographic Wormhole by Sarag Wells, via Vice –

‘Quantum teleportation opens a ‘wormhole in space–time’’ by Martijn Boerkamp, via Physics World –

‘Physicists Create a Holographic Wormhole’ by Natalie Wolchover, via Quanta –

‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’, via The New York Times –

‘How Physicists Created a Holographic, via Quanta –

Quantum computer imagery, via Quantumai –

‘Nuclear fusion breakthrough’, via Sky News –

‘NASA scientist explains why images from new telescope astounded him’, via CNN on YouTube –

‘Neutrino Faster Than Speed of Light’, via Associated Press –

‘Michio Kaku on Quantum Computing’, via PowerfulJRE –

AskScience AMA Series, via r/askscience on Reddit –

‘Professor Andrei Linde celebrates physics breakthrough’, via Stanford –

‘Gravitational waves turn to dust’ by Ian Sample, via The Guardian –

‘The First Room-Temperature Ambient-Pressure Superconductor’, Sukbae Lee, Ji-Hoon Kim, Young-Wan Kwon, 2023, via arXiv –

‘What’s the buzz about LK-99?’, via Global News –

Meissner effect, via @andrewmccalip on Twitter –

‘Will LK99 Superconductor CHANGE THE WORLD?’, via Breaking Points on YouTube –

‘Superconductor Breakthroughs’, via WSJ –

LK99 claims forum post, via Spacebattles –

Copper graph, via Handbook of Electromagnetic Materials –

LK-99 Superconductor ​showing levitation –

‘Unreliable social science research’ by Cathleen O’Grady, via Science –

Tiny Neutrinos article by Dennis Overbye, via The NYT –

‘The Crisis in Cosmology’ by Astrophysics in Process, via Medium –

‘Some scientists speak of a “crisis in cosmology.”’ by Adam Frank, via Big Think –

‘Why is there a ‘crisis’ in cosmology?’ by Paul Sutter, via Space –

‘Breakthrough in nuclear fusion, via PBS NewsHour on YouTube –

DOE National Lab press conference, via U.S. Department of Energy on YouTube –

‘Nuclear fusion breakthrough’ by Catherine Clifford, via CNBC –

‘US officials announce nuclear fusion breakthrough’, via CNN –

Nuclear fusion article, via CNN –

Climate catastrophe article by Robin McKie, via The Guardian –

Nuclear fusion article by Nicola Davis, via The Guardian –

Fusion breakthrough article, via Imperial College London –

Wednesday briefing by Archive Bland, via The Guardian –

Sky Sport News Bulletin, via Sky Sport NZ on YouTube –

Alien Probe Ignored Us article by Ed Maz –

Attempts to scan the mysterious Oumuamua ‘comet’ article by Shivali Best, via MailOnline –

‘Have Aliens Found Us?’ by Isaac Chotiner –

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Written by Derek Muller
Edited by Peter Nelson
Filmed by Derek Muller
Produced by Derek Muller

Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images and Storyblocks
Music from Epidemic Sound
Thumbnail by Geoff Barrett

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39 Responses

  1. Jacob Johansen says:

    I do want to revisit one of the examples that’s mentioned in the video: I actually have massive respect for the faster than light neutrinos people. They put their paper out there not with a press release saying they’d found faster than light neutrinos, but with an appeal to the community. In the material surrounding the paper, they said that they’d been looking for an error for months and hadn’t yet found one, so they were publishing in an effort to get help from the community to find their mistake. In the conclusion to their paper, they specifically said that they refused to speculate about the implications because they thought the result was a mistake. Now, this is largely consistent with your broader point that science reporting and science communication has a problem with overhyping things: If even a paper released with multiple statements from the researchers that it’s probably wrong and that the only reason they’re publishing is to make sure they’re in a position to get as much help as possible from the community gets reported as proof that physics as we know it is wrong, and then a few months later when the researchers do find their mistake the correction doesn’t get the attention it needs, well, that’s a problem.

    But I do want to give all credit to those researchers, because they did the right thing. They were fully transparent. They were using the scientific publication system to try to have a conversation to solve a problem, which is one of the things that it’s supposed to do.

  2. Amir Hemmati says:

    I’m a PhD student suffering from this stupid competition to publish more papers. I can clearly see how this policy is stopping me from doing thoughtful research. We should value comments on papers more than ever. This is the only way to make some people understand there is a penalty for publishing poor research.

    • Coen says:

      In what field of science are you aiming to be a doctor of philosophy? And who’s pressuring you into publishing these papers? It seems pretty irresponsible and not well thought through…

    • Cooper says:

      I don’t comprehend that because you’d hope if someone got media attention for study that turned out to be totally incorrect you think that would be a negative. Like a major negative, highly embarrassing as in you published that? But I believe ya

    • Joel Spaulding says:

      Except there is seldom a penalty for publishing poor research or methods.

      Headlines promoted on sites such as Medscape thrive on sensational headlines that are seldom, no, NEVER supported by the referenced study.

      There is good science but those who provide access to it will manipulate its availability and criticism.

    • .x. says:

      Wait what

  3. Alekh Maheshwari says:

    I think everything in this video applies not just to science, but to the current state of society in general.

  4. Sam says:

    If I remember correctly, the faster than light neutrino was published with the strongest possible warning. They basically said “this is probably wrong but we checked every way we can possibly think of so there’s nothing left to do but publish it and hope someone else can figure out why we’re wrong.”

    And someone did.

    • .x. says:

      That’s what science is…😎

    • Sam says:

      @.x. Yes, but he lumped it in with things that scientists should not have done. This was a perfectly legitimate publication that was handled correctly, unlike the other examples. It was still a little overhyped by the “what if it is true” media. But not as much as the others because of the precautions they took with their extraordinary claim.

    • Bitchslapper316 says:

      @Sam Many of the examples used did similar. It’s the media both social and mainstream that hype this stuff up. In some cases the authorities like the U.S government. There are sometimes big differences in how people cover a story and how the researchers put out thier data.

    • Gustavo Kasper Facenda says:

      @Sam to be fair I remember the media around that and it was not a *little* overhyped, it was absurd. “Einstein was wrong!!!!” all over the place. But yeah usually the paper itself is fair in its claims, the issue is how people read it.

    • Gabriele Cinotti says:

      Not someone, they! They found their mistake some months later and produced a new measurement consistent with lightspeed

  5. Jochem Bonarius says:

    I worked as an academic researcher for 5 years. I hated the way it works now, with this “publish or perish” incentive. It’s very competitive and hierarchical. People don’t want to share knowledge, unless they get something back. Anybody with issues or whom is struggling is just neglected until they break down and burn out. It’s insane that it’s like that, as Academia should be the cradle of research and knowledge. I never want to work there again.

  6. Nick Papagiorgio says:

    I’ve been avoiding 95% of science news for the past 10 years because of this. Thank you so much for addressing this embarrasment of modern humanity.

  7. Mixup 221 says:

    I love that “overhyping” has apparently become the formal term for this phenomenon

    • Amana Wolf says:

      You can look at the gaming scene for that one. A game gets overhyped, turns out to be a piece of crap, and people get angry.

    • Matt Naganidhi says:

      Interesting 🤔

    • ADDADHDOCD3PO says:

      While that is true, most AAA games have released recently with suspiciously terrible performance. Others have been quite buggy or unfinished. I cannot decide if this is somehow nvidias influence on the market to lead the market to accept it’s fate and cave for the 40series ect. From 3 years ago, we have LESS price to performance in the $200-500 range where most people buy. This tells me Nvidia has made every move possible to keep from dropping prices including flexing their relationships with key developers.

    • Charles Darwin says:

      if people learn, “skepticism” should be the feedback, otherwise we literally slip more into the divergent ‘stupid’ universe

  8. HunGredy says:

    I know it’s a small thing but I love how Derek pulls away the camera and reveals himself at 8:40. It’s like a very clever 4th wall breaking moment because he heard something that surprised him enough to stop the professional videoing and stop and ask.

  9. Aidan Starke says:

    So hyped to see Carlo Rovelli on this channel. Got to meet him in person at a physics conference earlier this year. Genuinely an amazingly charismatic and respectable person. Even signed the book of his I happened to be reading.

  10. Walter Samuels says:

    Thanks for covering this. I remember when these articles first came out I was so annoyed at the BS that physicists spin. This is why the physics community has such a terrible reputation, all of this nonsense. Until more physicists speak up and shame this sort of behavior, I have no respect for them. Also, quantum physicists are heavily to blame for this as well, with their ridiculous sci-fi terminology that completely misleads people all in the name of fundraising. Anyway, I’m subbing to you now because you cover this sort of thing, rather than join the hype brigade. I admire your integrity.

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