Monday, July 20, 2009

Ego boost of science.

There is a very flattering article in tomorrow's New York Times science section, by Natalie Angier, about our article on the definition of behavior. (There is also an online quiz associated with it.) It has, to be honest, many fewer errors than I generally expect from science journalism. The main one that will jump out at most of my peers is her statement that, "neither that textbook nor any other reference he consulted bothered to" define behavior precisely. We found lots of definitions, they just didn't agree with each other, or with what we or other biologists thought the word meant. That said, I think this NYTimes article is much better than most science reporting on the accuracy front. And of course, it is nice to have one's work described as "provocative and crisply written" in a large circulation newspaper.

She did neglect mention my two favorite things about the article; the title is, "Behavioral biologists do not agree on what constitutes behavior," and; in a biological article in a peer reviewed journal, we quote both Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's opinion on pornography and Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mystery of the dog that did nothing in the nighttime. I amuse myself heartily.

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