bad journalist! naughty journalist!

Scientist in "pissed off by ill-informed, sensationalist, lazy journalism" shocka!

That’s all to do with this thing you may have seen in the news about a system supposedly capable of diagnosing genetic problems through analysis of facial structure. I didn’t even bother following the link, to be honest; I’ve read too many stories based on journalists’ misreadings of research and this sounded like another one.

Seems I was right, but the scientist in question also sounds like a damn fool, reportedly telling the journalist in a phone conversation that "you can spot a kid with Down’s syndrome a mile away." Which is true in that Down syndrome has a certain distinctive set of facial markers; but is a pretty insensitive thing to say. He denies saying it, but the journalist in question swears blind he did. Perhaps it was just an off-the-cuff comment by an enthused researcher – the sort of thing you absolutely have to be on your guard against in an interview.

Thing is, it’s probably not a terribly important piece of research, but when you take all the statistical hedging out – all the ‘science’ if you like – it sounds tremendous. And the press love that.

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