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Ok, yes, this is how you promote scientific research to a lay audience:

1) They don't bury the lede. The first paragraph says what the result is immediately, if you understand it already, you're done reading.

2) Inverted pyramid structure. After they explain what happened, they break apart the historical context of the problem itself and give copious examples and metaphors to give the gist of what the problem is about and why it matters that it was solved.

I can't tell you how many of these popsci articles start out with "When Mary was a 3 year old, she used to look up at the stars and ... blah blah ... Now, she's taking on the scientific establishment and daring to do the unthinkable..." etc etc. I just dread skimming through the fluff to try to pick out what the hell was actually done.

Thank you Kevin Hartnett (the author of this piece) for not attempting to turn scientific papers into a human interest story.




It's not just science reporting. One of the reasons I hate the Olympics is that I like to watch sports on TV: Not heartfelt stories of overcoming adversity to become one of the world's elite. Not teary eyed medal ceremonies with semi transparent backdrops of national flags blowing in the wind. Not endless medal count standings. Not interviews of people with three medals around their necks, with insets of proud parents in the upper left hand corner. I just want to see the sporting events.

Today's society values drama above everything else. It's a shame (either that they do, or that I don't fit in ;-) ).


I really liked watching the original Ninja Warrior (the Japanese version). I even liked (to a lesser extent) the first US-heavy version.

I stopped watching for exactly the reason you describe.

The exact same thing happened with esports. Five minutes of actual play, 25 minutes of fluff.


I largely agree, but to add another perspective I have always viewed sports themselves as simply action-driven drama. It can be entertaining to watch, but ultimately the end results seem inconsequential to me compared to things like scientific discoveries.


They're just different types of articles--straight news reporting vs feature writing. It's fine of course to not like one or the other style, but they are both effective ways of connecting with audiences.


It depends on the audience though. In this case, I think it's correct to say there's a strong chance that the reader is not interested in prose. The sad thing about the human interest style is that, if that's not what I'm reading for, I begin skimming as soon as I detect it and much of the author's work ends up being for nothing.


Yeah, plain info versus story. Both have their uses.


Amen. I am so tired of trying to read these articles that spend so much time on random personal backstories because they don’t have faith that the core subject matter is interesting to read. The worst are the ones that jump back and forth between A/B/C plots, jumping away before any satisfying conclusion is reached on any of them, as a way of tricking your brain into reading the article ... like a really bad TV show, or Westworld.

All those articles can go burn in a hot, hot fire.


Just one correction, that's the classic pyramid structure, not a reverse pyramid.




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