Friday ∗ 30 Mar 2012

rappler and the enterprise of spin

when my friend TJ Dimacali asked if i had seen this rappler piece, my response was a resounding “no” just because i keep from going to rappler when i can. in the past month or so though, people have been alerting me about certain articles and kinds of writing that point precisely to its, uh, identity crisis? or just its biases (kayo na ang nagtitinda ng magnum at coke at naglalagay ng obvious PR pieces under “lifestyle” and “business” instead of just having them put ads, and you put the bs in bias, really).

this piece though is not so much about biases, as it is about spin. about a slant that might have seemed acceptable, but is actually quite irresponsible. read the source material here and here and you will find that none of these talk about the rainbow (the physics for which may be read about here). but this rappler piece claims that scientists  “have created new rainbow colors” and as such we can now let go of the ROYGBIV to remind us of the colors of the rainbow. TJ says (boldface mine):

In fairness to Rappler, I think they have the right idea trying to make science more popular.

But they really need to get their facts straight, and should be more careful before they blurt out something as outrageous as “Scientists make new rainbow colors.”

That kind of misreporting serves only to confuse lay readers and further adds to their misunderstanding of scientific concepts.

Just because an atom emits previously unseen frequencies doesn’t mean that these don’t already exist (or are unknown to exist) in the rainbow. All the scientists are saying is that they made an atom produce “colors” that it wasn’t able to before.

But it’s not as if these “colors” (frequencies) were heretofore unknown! It’s just that this particular kind of atom was never known to emit those frequencies before.

In short, the scientists simply meant that the frequencies were “previously unseen” from an excited atom PER SE, not from the entire known visible spectrum

To suddenly jump to the conclusion that these are “new rainbow colors” is just preposterous. It’s bad science and bad science journalism.

What worries me is that the article is gaining circulation in social media —spreading laughably false information to people along the way— and Rappler hasn’t even bothered to correct it.

and just so it’s clear, TJ did alert them about the gross misreading of the source material (those words are all mine), but rappler didn’t respond. or have yet to correct the piece as of this writing.

Posted in: bayan, ibang boses, kapitalista, komentaryo, media, pangyayari

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