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News article vs Op Ed piece

So I'm assuming you all have read the lead story in today's New York Times Science section. If not, you should, or heck maybe you shouldn't; it's hard to know how much of this XXXX one should have to read, (see how discreet I'm being; sorry George Carlin; I so miss you!).

So here is the synopsis

Sex discrimination in the social sciences; heavens no. It's just girls don't like the social sciences (all those numbers and stuff). Oh wait, girls used to not like the social sciences but now they are in the majority of those studying in a variety of social science areas. Well gosh darn I wonder how that happened.

Sex discrimination in the life sciences; heavens no. It's just girls don't like life sciences (all that blood and stuff). Oh wait girls, used to not like the life sciences but now they are at parity in many of the life sciences. Well gosh darn I wonder how that happened.

Sex discrimination in the physical sciences and engineering; heavens no. It's just girls don't like the physical sciences and engineering (all those tools and stuff). No need to go there, obviously it must be genetic.

Yup the reason girls don't go into the physical sciences and engineering must be genetic (unlike those pesky social and life sciences). And if that is your conclusion before you write the article, it is really helpful if you limit your interviewees to those who have already decided "gee girls just don't like science and math" like Camila Benbow, of the theory "gosh darn it's the [mythical] sex linked math gene that made them do, or not do it" and Christina Hoff Sommers of the "poor boys, your problems are just because of those bad girls" fame. (And yes there are no links here; if you want to follow them up I am not going to be an enabler. I assume you have google and know how to use it; if not too bad; don't ask me for help.)

So I'm thinking my letter to "All the news fit to print; gray lady to whom I actually do have a print subscription, New York Times" might say some things like :

You want to write an op ed piece; great. I may or may not agree; but that is fine. But if you want to write a news article, especially one in the, oh yes, science section; perhaps you should, oh I don't know, apply a little science and if you aren't willing to do that you might want at least speak to researchers like Donna Nelson and Shirley Malcom or heck even to all those women in science, about whom you reported earlier, who are leaving because the discrimination is just too great.

In the mean time dear New York Times, I'm going to the Colbert Report for my news; he seems to be a lot more honest and, if not, at least he's funny.



Thank you for writing. That piece was indeed a column. John Tierney is a science columnist and is allowed to display a point of view. Mr. Hoyt recently wrote a column about the distinction between news articles and news columns. I have pasted it below. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.



Thank you for your response. I confess my print subscription to the Times is for Sunday only; the rest of the week I read things on line. When I read the News of the Week in Review in print it is very clear that Dowd, Rich, Kristol et al are columnists. When I read on line

A New Frontier for Title IX: Science

and at the bottom of the screen there is a link that says "More articles in Science" then yes I think I am reading an article.

I thought Mr. Hoyt's article was excellent (thank you for sending it on). I just wish the Times would pay more attention to it.

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