Next time you see a scientist in the street, grab him or her and ask who they view as the enemy. Quite likely they’ll give you a weird look, and perhaps they’ll run away, but if they don’t, I’d bet they’d say journalists. Many scientists I know brace themselves for speaking with journalists about their work. Too many times, their research gets skewed, mangled and otherwise dragged through the mud for the benefit of keeping the public interested.
But I’d argue there’s something worse than the misinformed journalist out there: it’s the dreaded marketer! Case in point:
I just bought these socks yesterday and was all geeked to put them on when I saw that they’re antimicrobial. Is nothing sacred anymore?
But seriously, people. It’s time the teeming masses came to terms with the fact that we are more microbe than we are human. The fine folks over at the Human Food Project remind us of this regularly, as do new articles every week (see Carl Zimmer for the NYTimes and Rob Dunn for Scientific American for starters). Why we feel the need to guard against the army of perfectly benign microbes on our skin lest they smell just a wee bit funky is beyond me (btw, it’s called a shower – I’m tellin’ ya, one a day will work wonders for your supah-stank…) And so I end this rant with a waggity-wag of the finger to marketers everywhere who take good science (the germ theory of disease) and distort it because it sells (anti-bacterial everything).