Laura Helmuth Profile picture
Editor in chief of @SciAm. Past president of National Association of @ScienceWriters. Formerly @washingtonpost @NatGeo @Slate @SmithsonianMag @NewsFromScience
Rashmi Jain Profile picture Gorka Barrenetxea Profile picture Papa De Razón Profile picture 4 added to My Authors
Jul 29 8 tweets 2 min read
We published a fascinating story the other day about how wastewater is a significant source of nitrogen pollution because people eat so much protein. This is a thread about harassment (1/x) I tweeted about the article a few days ago. When I fired up Twitter this morning, I had 100+ messages from people who claimed:
I want to require everyone to eat bugs
I want everybody to starve
Planned food shortages are coming and I'm part of the conspiracy
Jun 10 9 tweets 3 min read
There's a weird purgatory between finding out you were exposed to COVID and finding out whether you are actually infected. I'm reading up after spending some time with someone right before they tested positive, and found these articles helpful (thread) First, Omicron is WILDLY infectious. It is almost certainly the fastest-spreading virus in all of human history. scientificamerican.com/article/omicro…
Feb 21 14 tweets 2 min read
Headlines are the most important three to 12 words in any story. Here's where they come from, in case anybody's interested, and some observations about recent trends and misunderstandings (thread) The writer or videographer or graphic artist (the person whose name, or byline, is at the top of the piece) usually doesn't write the headline. The editor (whose name is probably not on the piece) usually writes the headline.
Feb 20 26 tweets 12 min read
Looking forward to the @AAASmeetings plenary on problems in science communication, with @hholdenthorp @JaneLubchenco @AstroKatie @DrJoSimps & Kathleen Hall Jamieson aaas.confex.com/aaas/2022/meet… There's been a shift in science in past 25 years toward more engagement & communication & solutions -- @JaneLubchenco
Feb 20 7 tweets 3 min read
This year's @AAASmeetings has had some great sessions on misinformation, and I'm looking forward to this one starting at 11 ET aaas.confex.com/aaas/2022/meet… Research by @lkfazio shows that repeating false claims makes people more likely to believe them, even if the false claims contradict knowledge people had before they saw the misinformation
Feb 19 7 tweets 2 min read
Great talk at @AAASmeetings by @katestarbird about participatory disinformation and how quickly Trump-fan grievances on social media amplify conspiracy theories aaas.confex.com/aaas/2022/meet… "some of us are trying to understand how to put a wrench in this system and stop the madness"
Nov 18, 2021 8 tweets 2 min read
Substack seems to be attracting a certain set of writers who are arrogant, self-righteous, offended by social justice efforts, and/or just looking for a fight. This thread is about one small part of this pattern: editing, and what contempt for editing says about someone (1/x) Substack is a platform that lets writers publish what they want, unedited. I get the attraction. It can be painful to hear from an editor that, say, your introduction takes too long to get to the point or your metaphor doesn’t track or your logic has holes in it (2/x)
Oct 24, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
One of the many invisible good deeds people deserve more credit for is not kicking down, especially on Twitter, even when it’s tempting. I recently got kicked at by someone with 11x more followers than me, let’s call him Yatt Mglasias. <thread> I tweeted out a lovely story by some desert ecologists about how movies often present deserts as wastelands, but they’re actually really interesting and rich. The story was pegged to Dune, and my tweet (I realized belatedly) could be read to mean that I didn't understand Dune.
Mar 30, 2021 9 tweets 2 min read
One of the biggest barriers to progress is the fact that most of the people who have succeeded in a given field and have the power to change things think the system works ~just~ ~fine~ the way it is. 1/x You help run a medical school and you had to spend years of your training sleep deprived? Well, so should new trainees. 2/x
Feb 11, 2021 6 tweets 3 min read
Banning Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from Instagram should slow the spread of his dangerous lies and disinformation. Some publications politely call him an "anti-vaccine activist" but he's a conspiracy fantasist who knowingly incites threats against scientists 1/ nytimes.com/2021/02/11/us/… Here @sethmnookin shows some of RFK Jr.'s long history of disinformation & how he distorts quotes and research about vaccines 2/ scientificamerican.com/article/how-ro…
Feb 5, 2021 20 tweets 8 min read
Join this webinar (happening now) from @NASEM_DBASSE on reporting on COVID. From @vishplus: "Journalism has been a saving grace" during the pandemic. His surveys show people who read traditional media are well informed about vaccines & eager to get them nationalacademies.org/event/02-05-20… The @BostonGlobe has been gathering data on racial disparities of the pandemic and identifying problems and inequities in vaccine distribution -- drawing attention more than anyone else, @vishplus says
Aug 5, 2020 5 tweets 2 min read
"Anchoring bias" is a huge problem with the coronavirus pandemic -- people tend to remember the first things they learn about a new subject & have a hard time updating that with new info (thread) scientificamerican.com/article/nine-i… via @sciam The virus doesn't kill only people in China or in Italy or on cruise ships or in nursing homes. It can kill absolutely anybody. It's not just those other people's problem. It's everybody's problem.
Aug 9, 2019 18 tweets 5 min read
I’ve been a judge for a lot of writing awards. The deliberations are always strictly confidential, and I can’t say anything about specific contests, but I can tell you a bit about how the process works from a judge’s perspective, and what you can do to be more competitive. But first, if you’ve ever won a contest: Congratulations! Your work was brilliant, the judges were brilliant, and awards are a fair and accurate recognition of the best writing in your field.
Aug 4, 2019 11 tweets 2 min read
I'm an editor, so a lot of what I do is cut or change words. These are some of the mistakes and misuses I see all the time & how to fix them. This thread is not to shame or subtweet anybody -- I learned many of these mistakes by making them myself. Please add your own favorites! "Enormity" means something really bad, not something really big.
Jul 12, 2019 18 tweets 8 min read
We had an important discussion at #wcsj2019 about how to protect your sources, your data, and yourself. Here’s a thread of highlights from the session with lots of digital security advice & links. wcsj2019.eu/Sessions/Data-… Thanks to @deborahblum for organizing the session and to Julien Martin, @weskandar & @danapriest for generous and useful advice and to @theWCSJ and @Wcsj2019Eu for a fantastic conference.
Jun 23, 2019 13 tweets 3 min read
I put a pond in my back yard about 10 years ago, and it has given the best return on investment in units of pure joy of anything I've ever done. Have you ever considered a water feature? Here's my experience in case it's helpful. A thread. Image So there are a lot of expenses up front: a plastic liner to keep the water from draining out of the pit, a pump, a filter, lots of tubing, paving stones, plants, pots to keep the plants in, fish, beneficial bacteria water treatments, etc.
May 25, 2019 20 tweets 4 min read
I’ve been talking with an early-career person who is looking to change jobs, and it reminded me just how much you don’t know when you’re starting out. Here’s a thread of advice on how to look for a new job & what to do while you’re waiting. Please add to it if you can. It’s a lot easier to find a new job if you have a job. It’s not fair and it’s not efficient, but a lot of hiring managers have this bias. Also, if you’re applying for a job in the same field, your expertise in your current job is one of the things that makes you a good catch.
Oct 5, 2018 13 tweets 3 min read
Journalism has an elaborate code of ethics, but most people outside of journalism don’t know that, and that’s a problem. Sorry to "a thread" at you, but: a thread. I spoke with a group of MDs who also have MBAs or PhDs and who work in hospital administration or public health or some other big-shot positions. They were in town for a workshop on how Washington works.
Sep 26, 2018 12 tweets 2 min read
What should you do if you sent an email you really need a response to, and you’re not getting a response? A thread. Short answer: email again. Long answer with specific suggestions is below.
Apr 1, 2018 24 tweets 3 min read
If you would ever like advice on negotiating a raise, promotion, or compensation for a new job, I am happy to help. Optional consulting fee: Buy me a drink sometime. Real consulting fee: Pay it forward when you can. Ahem, a thread. A few general principles: It is VERY hard to advocate for yourself or talk about money, especially if you don’t come from money.