I'm really pretty excited about the story that appeared in the New York Times today about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). I already posted about it once today, but I thought I'd post again about what a good job of presenting science this article does. First off, they could have said that "scientists have decided that CCD is caused by a microbe", but instead, they demonstrated the experiment that shows us that, which is much more powerful:
Mr. Hackenberg, the beekeeper, agreed to take his empty bee boxes and other equipment to Food Technology Service, a company in Mulberry, Fla., that uses gamma rays to kill bacteria on medical equipment and some fruits. In early results, the irradiated bee boxes seem to have shown a return to health for colonies repopulated with Australian bees.Nice experiment. Thanks for showing us. Secondly, they actually give us reasonable data, instead of sensational data. Compare for example how Spiegel showed us how many bees have been affected:
“This supports the idea that there is a pathogen there,” Dr. Cox-Foster said. “It would be hard to explain the irradiation getting rid of a chemical.”
In isolated cases, says Hederer, declines of up to 80 percent have been reported. He speculates that "a particular toxin, some agent with which we are not familiar," is killing the bees.Well, sensational, but not quite useful. How many bees have actually been affected? Could be 80% of bees in the U.S., or could be one farmer lost 80% and most lost none. This is sensational, not useful. Now notice how the New York Times presents the same data:
More than a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost — tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping.Thank you. That means something, and we've actually been told how many bees are affected, rather than taking the highest number presented, it's showing what is occurring (and showing that the numbers are quite large) without sensationalizing it. We need more reasonable reporting on science. I look forward to finding more articles by Alexei Barrionuevo. I hope they're all this good.