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Simple Twitter Account Fights Sensationalized Science Stories

All the Tweets are the same: a link to a science story and the words "IN MICE." But that's the way it's meant to be. What may seem like an important medical breakthrough, according to the headline, turns out to be the results of an experiment in lab mice (or rats). That doesn't mean the research is bad; it just means that the story is overblown by publishers who want your attention. You've seen it happen before. Study results compete for space in science publications, which issue press releases, the papers take it up, then bloggers, and by the time you hear about it, cancer has been cured. Anyway, data scientist James Heathers came up with @justsaysinmice, launched it last week, and it's already a hit with scientists. He talked to Gizmodo about the idea.

How have people responded to the account?

Heathers: In general, scientists, especially biologists, have written to me and said, “I’m really glad you’ve done this. This is hella funny to me, personally.” And that’s from people who have run cancer centers.

The responses I’ve liked and hated the most have been from people who say they have a kid with a disability, or that they have type 1 diabetes. And they’re saddened every time they have to read about how the next best thing is right around the corner, or their mum sends them something on Facebook, with headlines on how the next cancer cure will be ready in 20 minutes. And I really hate existing in this environment where people are trying to help, and what they think will help just doesn’t work that way. I hate being reminded of that.

But there have also been a few negative responses, not many—the response has been overwhelmingly positive.   

Read the rest of the interview at Gizmodo.


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