Moon jelly

Article (and takedown): New York Times on immortal jellyfish

The New York Times published a long article in early December, masquerading as science journalism, profiling a Japanese scientist who studies jellyfish that – it is claimed – hold the secret to immortality and the cure to cancer. If you think this sounds too good to be true, it is. The article is an interesting profile of an interesting man, but written by a novelist rather than a science writer. There are a lot of things wrong with the article, and its premise. The casual reader may feel uncomfortable with some of the points raised but be unable to articulate why. Fortunately Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Program based at MIT went through the article in detail. He identifies each warning flag that should give the cautious reader cause for concern that what he is reading about is not mainstream science, nor written by someone who has sufficient understanding of the material to view it with a critical eye. The New York Times article is here, but you should just go straight to the rebuttal (which goes through the NYT article pretty much point for point) here. You should read the comments too. There’s another brief critique of the story here.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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