The Media

Submission + - Scientists Themselves Play Large Role in Bad Reporting

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "A lot of science reporting is sensationalized nonsense but are are journalists, as a whole, really that bad at their jobs? Christie Wilcox reports that a team of French scientists have examined the language used in press releases for medical studies and found it was the scientists and their press offices that were largely to blame. As expected, they found that the media’s portrayal of results was often sensationalistic. More than half of the news items they examined contained spin. But, while the researchers found a lot of over-reporting, they concluded that most of it was “probably related to the presence of ‘‘spin’’ in conclusions of the scientific article’s abstract.” It turns out that 47% of the press releases contained spin. Even more importantly, of the studies they examined, 40% of the study abstracts or conclusions did, too. When the study itself didn’t contain spin to begin with, only 17% of the news items were sensationalistic, and of those, 3/4 got their hype from the press release. "In the journal articles themselves, they found that authors spun their own results a variety of ways," writes Wilcox. "Most didn’t acknowledge that their results were not significant or chose to focus on smaller, significant findings instead of overall non-significant ones in their abstracts and conclusions, though some contained outright inappropriate interpretations of their data.""

Submission + - Apple bans words from iTunes which would make a 4th grader giggle (the-digital-reader.com)

Nate the greatest writes: Remember when (a href="http://apple.slashdot.org/story/12/05/20/1632234/apple-lifts-ban-on-the-word-jailbreak">Apple banned the word Jailbreak from iTunes? It looks like Apple might be up to their old tricks. A friend tipped me today to the fact that Apple is now censoring a couple words in iTunes. If you search for the words, any book or song title which uses them will show the first letter of the word and asterisks instead of the complete word. The 2 banned words are body parts, and you almost certainly have one or the other (penis, vagina). I knew that Apple has a youth oriented culture but this is getting ridiculous.

Submission + - Moo, Tracking School Children With RFID (wired.com)

niftymitch writes: Just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates Radio Frequency Identification Device chips to monitor livestock, a Texas school district just begun implanting the devices on student identification cards to monitor pupils’ movements on campus, and to track them as they come and go from school.

Tagging school children with RFID chips is uncommon, but not new.

The risk is in the abuse. Merchants and many many more locations can deploy readers and track these passive ID tags. The result is that it is not only the school that can track the students.


Submission + - Unusual discovery of new African monkey species (mongabay.com) 1

rhettb writes: In a remote and largely unexplored rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), researchers have made an astounding discovery: a new monkey species. The new primate, which is name the lesula and described in a paper in the journal PLoS ONE, was first noticed by scientist and explorer, John Hart, in 2007. The discovery of a new primate species is rare nowadays. In fact, the lesula is only the second newly discovered monkey in Africa in the past 28 years.

Submission + - How do I convince a school not to standardize on iPads?

An anonymous reader writes: My daughter's school is currently considering mandating tablets for all students. They are leaning towards iPads, but I would like to convince them to allow other tablets (Android?) as well. I don't like Apple very much and would loath to be forced to spend money on their products. It doesn't appear they have chosen iPad specific educational apps yet, so there should be some flexibility. But obviously, they might want to avoid perceived complications caused by having different devices in the classroom.

Can you suggest some good arguments against iPads, which I could present to the school? Price? Not wanting to support an 'unethical' company? Closed, un-free system? Teaching the children that there is choice in the market place? Have you had these discussions before? How successful were they for you?

Submission + - Discovery Suggests That "Virgin Births" May Be Common in the Wild (medicaldaily.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Virgin births have been discovered in wild vertebrates for the first time, suggesting that reproducing without the need for a male may not be so rare in the animal kingdom.
Scientists found that two wild snake species: the copperhead snake and the pit viper snake can reproduce fertilization from a male in a process called facultative parthenogenesis, in which an unfertilized egg develops to maturity.
Experts noted that while asexual reproduction is common among invertebrates, or animals without backbones, birth via parthenogenesis rarely occurs in vertebrates, and have only been observed in vertebrates in captivity to females that have been kept away from males.


Submission + - Stem Cells Turn Hearing Back On (sciencemag.org)

puddingebola writes: From the article, "Scientists have enabled deaf gerbils to hear again—with the help of transplanted cells that develop into nerves that can transmit auditory information from the ears to the brain. The advance, reported today in Nature, could be the basis for a therapy to treat various kinds of hearing loss."

Submission + - Intel Confirms Decline of Server Giants (wired.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A Wired article discusses the relative decline of Dell, HP, and IBM in the server market over the past few years. Whereas those three companies once provided 75% of Intel's server chip revenue, those revenues are now split between the big three and five other companies as well. Google is fifth on the list. 't’s the big web players that are moving away from the HPs and the Dells, and most of these same companies offer large “cloud” services that let other businesses run their operations without purchasing servers in the first place. To be sure, as the market shifts, HP, Dell, and IBM are working to reinvent themselves. Dell, for instance, launched a new business unit dedicated to building custom gear for the big web players — Dell Data Center Services — and all these outfits are now offering their own cloud services. But the tide is against them.'

Submission + - MP seeking to outlaw 'written accounts of child abuse' (bbc.co.uk)

Anduril1986 writes: A UK Conservative MP is seeking to expand censorship in another 'think of the children' debate. The plan this time is to make it illegal to possess written accounts of child abuse. According to Sir Paul Beresford, the MP for Mole Valley such writing "fuels the fantasies" of offenders and could lead to the physical abuse of children.

FYI Paul Beresford is the MP responsible for campaigning to make it illegal to forget your encryption keys..


Submission + - Data Science into a spectator "sport"? (gigaom.com)

vu1986 writes: "Kaggle has a "predictive-modeling competition platform that makes public the competitors in invite-only private competitions. Think of it like watching a major tournament in golf or tennis, where you can watch the best in the world shoot it out to see whose algorithms are king. Kaggle’s tagline is “We’re making data science a sport.” Maybe now it can make data science a spectator sport.""

Submission + - Europe sets sights on asteroid tracking radars (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: "The European Space Agency today said it would develop a radar system that will be capable of tracking space hazards such as asteroids and orbital debris. ESA and France's Office National d'Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales — research center will work with five other partners in France, Spain and Switzerland to this month design a test surveillance radar and develop a $6 million demonstrator model."
United States

Submission + - The Awful Film That's Ignited Anti-American Fury in the Middle East (vice.com) 1

pigrabbitbear writes: "Yesterday a chanting crowd of approximately 2,000 Egyptians stormed the walls of the American embassy in Cairo, while another mob in Benghazi stormed the U.S. consulate there. In Egypt, the mob scaled the embassy and tore the U.S. flag to pieces while raising a black Islamic flag of their own. In Benghazi, RPGs were fired at the consulate which was also set to flames. Twenty gunmen fired rounds and rockets, one of which killed Chris Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya who’s spent the last five years serving there. Three other Americans were also killed on the consulate grounds in Benghazi last night.

Amateurish films funded by religious fundamentalists aren’t uncommon. But translate them into the language of other religious fundamentalists, and you can spark a hell-storm of murderous fury."


Submission + - Link between H1N1 and Flu Vaccines confirmed in 5 studies, recreated in ferrets. (vancouversun.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A Vancouver researcher's findings help strengthen the evidence that the "Flu Shot" is linked to the H1N1 virus. 5 separate studies confirmed initial findings which noted the link, but were dismissed as a "Canadian problem" when other studies claimed different results in their findings. Now the link has been demonstrated as the study has been recreated in ferrets, which casts serious doubt on the claim that the initial studies were flawed.

Submission + - Foxconn Denies Vocational Students Forced to Work

jones_supa writes: Foxconn has responded to the criticism regarding Chinese internship students being forced to work for them. In a statement to Washington Post, Foxconn said that its “short-term internship program” is in line with Chinese labor laws and that interns comprise 2.7% of its labor force in China. Schools, not Foxconn, recruit students into the programs, the company said, and the programs are supervised by local government authorities and teachers assigned to monitor the students’ work. Foxconn has also set up a hotline for interns and outlined procedures that allow them to resign from the program.

Submission + - Shamoon Malware Likely From Amateur, Not Elite Developers (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: The Disttrack/Shamoon malware, while destructive, appears to be the work of amateurs and not elite and sophisticated developers, according to the latest analysis.

The malware proved that it was possible for developers to subvert legitimate kernel-mode applications for malicious purposes, but it appears that the malware could have been even more destructive and dangerous, if it had not been for a series of programming mistakes in the code, according to recent analysis from Kaspersky Lab.

Other suggestions that the developers behind the Shamoon malware are not high-profile programmers include the fact that The command-and-control server is hard-coded as two addresses, which limits the tool since if the address ever changes, the infected machine can no longer receive instructions.

The developers were most likely motivated by political reasons, as the malware overwrote existing files with a fragment of an image of a burning American flag. The Malware has also been reported to be linked to the recent Saudi Aramco attack, which some reports have suggested that insiders may have been partly involved. Saudi Aramco hasn't officially said what type of malware hit its systems.

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