Meet The Screamers.
After being a scientist in one form or another for 30 years and blogging about stem cells and other science for more than 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of science hype. However, some science hype goes above and beyond the usual level to outright smack readers in the face. It almost hurts your brain or makes you want to scream “No!”
We definitely see this kind of uber-hype in the stem cell field at times, but also in many other areas. For instance, I’ve written about hype related to CRISPR gene editing before too. We may still be in a phase of increasing CRISPR hype.
At times I’ve even said I was giving out an “award” here on The Niche for science hype in a kind of informal sense. Here are a couple more examples of hype that I thought warranted such an award.
I got to thinking that there should be actual awards for science hype and The Screamers were born.
The goal is to raise awareness of the problem and draw attention to particularly egregious examples. I don’t see any existing such award.
As a result, I came to the conclusion that we should actually give out annual awards for science hype in a more formalized manner. I’m planning from now on each year to give out The Screamers awards for extraordinary hype in science. Since this is a new thing it’s still a work in progress. However, the idea is to give out Screamers in different categories such as media hype as well as hype in press releases and perhaps even in movies.
Should we focus for now on the life sciences or include other areas like physics and astronomy?
I also haven’t decided yet about how the winners will be picked, but one option I’m leaning toward is to recruit members of an awards committee to pick the winners each year. Or I could just do it myself. And, yes, I can imagine receiving a Screamer award may make some people pretty upset, possibly at me.
The name “The Screamers” for these awards isn’t inspired by the famous painting The Scream (above) even though again sometimes some of us scientists feel that way when we see big science hype, but rather it is inspired by the slang in journalism where a “screamer” is a headline designed to powerfully get attention. A reader of this blog actually suggested this name to me at some point long ago for a hype in science award name, but I can’t track down who it was to give them a HT.
As this year goes along please send me your nominations for a Screamer award for hype in science for 2020 at knoepflerATucdavisDOTedu or in the comments here on The Niche.
I have a few ideas for candidates already too including the purported new living organism robots made from frog stem cells.
More details to come.