Monday, December 10, 2007

Supernatural Science at the BMI Department?

The Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology (BMI) department of our university publishes a bi-weekly newsletter for the grad student body. The latest edition, Issue 57, includes an article entitled "Specializing in the Natural and Supernatural Sciences: An Interview with Jason Tetro" (the latest issue can usually be found here but has not yet been posted at the time of this writing). The article profiles a student of the department who has a hobby (and side-job) of tarot card reading.

Personally, I don't care what people believe or do with their spare time, but for a publication of the BMI Grad Student Association to spin and legitimize tarot card reading and the supernatural as science is embarrassing for me as a member of the department. The following is our response sent to the editors of the publication:
Dear Editor,

RE: "Specializing in the Natural and Supernatural Sciences"

Science is the investigation of physical and natural phenomena through observation and experimentation. The supernatural, by definition, is unexplainable by natural law and falls squarely oustide the scientific realm.

I understand the desire to profile members of the department and, as an author of the science blog "The Bayblab", I understand that it can be difficult to come up with ideas for stories. However, a profile of the *scientific* acheivements of the student, or even a critical analysis of research articles (the references of which were omitted) mentioned in the interview, would be more appropriate. (Incidentally, we at the Bayblab devote a considerable amount of energy to promoting critical thinking and distinguishing between science and pseudoscience or quackery.)

To include an article in the departmental bulletin about the supernatural and classify it as science is a disservice to your readers and a disservice to the reputation of the department as a scientific body.

Kamel, Rob


Anonymous said...

I agree with your idea about sticking to the science . . . irony?

Bayman said...

Maybe it's time to start reading articles from real, peer-reviewed scientific journals instead of the BMI newsletter social/gossip column...if you're looking for science...

Kevin Z said...

dude, i before e... (in achievements)

sorry I couldn't resist. I like the sneaky but obvious plug for the bayblab, do you think they will publish it in the next issue?

kamel said...

Ha ha. Damn, well what can I say, I'm not an arts student?

Yeah, it was a pretty obvious name drop. I suspect they don't get many letters so there's a reasonable chance it makes it.