『What Should We Be Worried About?: Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night』
（John Brockman編／Harper Perennial）
1冊目はJohn Brockman編の『What Should We Be Worried About?: Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night』。僕がよく買ってくるサイエンス・エッセイ集のたぐいです。この手の本の良いところは、時間が空いたときに、ちょっと広げて、短いエッセイの一つも読めること。長編とか、きちんとした本とかは、それなりに構えて読む必要があったり、構えなくても読む時間がどうしてもかかったりしますから、仕事の合間にちょっとというのはなかなか面倒に感じられます。その点、サイエンスでもビジネスでもエッセイは短時間で読めるので、とりあえずの結論までいけるのがいい。
Science by (Social) Media
Michael I. Norton
Check the “most e-mailed” lists on Web sites for periodicals ranging from the New York Times to FoxNews.com and you’ll often see, sprinkled in with major world events and scandals, a story about a new scientific finding: “Red Wine Linked to Longevity,” or “Climate Change Called into Question,” or “Eating Dirt Is Good for You.”
While the increasing attention given to science by the media is primarily a positive development ― surely we want a scientifically literate population, and research appearing only in obscure journals will not help achieve this goal ― we should be worried about the exploding trend in “science by media,” for at least two reasons.
First, it is not clear that the best science is the science that gets known best. In one study that examined media coverage of research presented at a major scientific conference, fully 25 percent of the stories that appeared in the media never appeared in a scientific journal. That’s right: Fully one quarter of the science that laypeople encountered was not solid enough to pass muster when reviewed by experts. This same trend was true for research that made the front pages of major newspapers, the stories most likely to be read.
The problem is likely exacerbated by the rise of social media: Even if we miss the initial coverage of some new scientific finding, we are now more likely to encounter it as a tweet or a post on Facebook. Worse still, social media often encourage quick, superficial engagement. We see the title ― “Red Wine Linked to Longevity” without reading further to find out, for example, the amount of red wine that might have health benefits (one ounce a day? one gallon?) and for whom (everyone? only people with red hair?)
『Dark Chocolate Demise』
今月の2冊目はJenn McKinlayの『Dark Chocolate Demise』です。A cupcake bakery mysteryというシリーズの1作。これは7作目に当たるようです。アリゾナ州スコッツデイルで、フェアリー・テイル・カップケーキ店のスタッフが、はじめてのオールド・タウン・ゾンビ・ウォークというイベントに参加します。ホラー仕立てのケーキを売ろうという企みでしたが、実際には本物の死体、それもやたらとゾンビ風のが見つかってしまいます。以下略。
Together, Tate and Angie stomped towards the van.
“What’s going on with those two?” Marty asked as he joined her.
“A stand-up standoff, ” Mel said.
“Huh?” Marty asked. “What the heck does that mean?”
“It means, ‘Houston, we have a problem.'” Mel said.
“Apollo 13,” Marty said.
Mel looked at him.
“What?” he asked. “I don’t watch movies? Anyway, it’s wrong”
“What’s wrong?” Mel asked.
“The quote,” Marty said. “I was older than you are now in 1970 when Apollo 13 launched and what Jack Swigert, the pilot, really said was, ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem here.'”
Mel tried to wrap her head around the fact that Marty had been almost forty in 1970. She couldn’t make it compute. The world events he’d seen and the things he’d done in his lifetime boggled her mind.
“Wow,” she said finally. “You’re pretty smart for an undead guy.”