Over at The Loom, science writer Carl Zimmer provides a link to what he considers an excellent example of science writing. I want to point out the way he sets this up, which I think is of interest in light of what is often discussed on this blog:
I’m sometimes asked who my favorite science writers are. I don’t like science writers per se; I like science writing, or rather some science writing–the passages and chapters and books that remind me just how good science writing can get, just how high above the wasteland of hackery, dishonest simplification, and cliches it can rise.
Carl is, of course, quite right about this. Not just in expressing frustration at the wasteland of mediocrity, but also about the fact that it is good writing rather than writers that should be of interest. Obviously, one who produces consistently good writing can be said to be a good writer, but this does not mean that he or she can be considered, nor expected, to be infallible when it comes to accurately reporting scientific information. I have tried to focus on individual stories rather than criticizing particular writers, but this is a lesson that I will have to keep more clearly in mind.