Disclaimer: I must admit that I’m allergic to anything that is untruthful. We can make mistakes, we can have our biases, but they still don’t count as deceitful. Ads can exaggerate, and if it says “ad” that is self-understood. I draw the line at propaganda where it does not say: hyped for promotional purposes. And what if it cheers on causes that I support? I don’t mind as long as it says that this is advertising rather than only facts. So say: Out of love for Jews, Israel and Zionism we join the hype by Israelis who report their supposed scientific breakthroughs.
However, I doubt if a science and health reporter can weed out the propaganda. Being critical at informants’ information may easily dishearten them to return and discourage others to show up with the next scoop. Furthermore, there might be nothing left to report. So I’m full of understanding of my paper’s uncritical reporting about natural science developments, but it still needs to be contradicted and corrected.
One of the basics of natural science is not to confuse findings with theory. Anyone can make up theories, and typically natural science theories turn out to conflict with the findings. A mere idea is never found to be true though; it stays a model, an idea – until it is confirmed by facts a lot, when it can be promoted to a Theory or even a Law. But Theories or Laws are never found in Nature. They stay an analysis – not the facts on the ground, ready to be thrown out by a better Theory.
(Similar distinctions we need in truthful news coverage: a distinction between reporting and analysis. The demonstrators shouted: Bibi go home. They seem mostly driven by negative press reports about the PM. Very similar to findings and diagnoses in Medicine. The doctor had a look at her finger; she assumed it could be broken and suggested an X-ray.)
The opening line of Giving the galaxy a push is therefore completely off. Instead of saying that a professor “discovered that our Milky Way Galaxy is not only being pulled, but also being pushed,” it should have read that he “has theorized that our Milky Way Galaxy is also being pushed, and he set out for findings that would prove or disprove that.”
This is not merely a mistake by the reporter. The professor and his team (whom she quotes at length) confuse the two polar entities, ideas and findings. The very first paragraph of the scientific article (in a greatly respected and peer-reviewed publication, no less) that sparked this news item, The dipole repeller, we find: “We show here that that the dominant influences are a single attractor and a single repeller” (I left out some distracting details). Of course the researchers cannot “find” or “show” an idea or analysis. They could try to show the workability of them, or that findings support their model, but that’s about it.
Don’t blame the Jerusalem Post reporter for not seeing through this scientific nonsense. The excellent Times of Israel reports the same mistake without calling scientists out on it. In its puffed up “Our galaxy’s dash through space seen as tale of attraction and repulsion” we find the identical basic mistake by a cosmologist and professor of physics who was not involved in the study, calling the team’s inference a “discovery.” Inference is in the realm of conclusions, thoughts, the mind; discoveries are physical findings in Nature.
Worst of all is of course that the whole issue is much ado about nothing. There is no gravitational pushing cooperating with a gravitational pulling, as we find in Physics Forums. Rather, it’s something like minus 5 degrees Celsius and plus 5 degrees Celsius: they are not opposite temperatures. They are 278 and 268 degrees Kelvin and that’s all there is to it.
Long live the Jews, Israel and Zionism, but I don’t think we need hype to promote us. The facts are impressive enough as they are.