The world needs scientists to save it from awful diseases. And the scientists need science writers (and possibly Jackie Chan) to tell the world what the scientists have been up to. But what good is even the best writing about the best science if your generation is devoid of copyeditors?
It’s especially crucial as science gets more complicated and the discoveries get more and more outlandish. I mean, my attention was certainly grabbed by this headline from politics.co.uk: Wildflowers used to monitor avian flu
Wow! My mind starts whirling with the possibilities. Of course! Why didn’t I think of it sooner! There must be some sort of viral RNA binding site on the pollen of some kind of English daisy. As the flu-stricken ducks pour into Britain this fall, shedding virus left and right, the daisy-bound pollen naturally would pick up some flu RNA. Then, with regular monitoring involving pointing some kind of sophisticated molecular laser imaging device at roadside wildflowers, we could pinpoint the arrival of the dreaded virus without ever having to probe the nasal passages of a single migratory wildflow.
I mean wildfowl.
That’s right, what the Brits are really using to monitor avian flu is wildfowlers. Not insensate, technologically interrogated daisies at all, but rather large men in rubber boots who hide in marshes tooting on duck trumpets.
Once properly edited, the story makes rather more sense, although it doesn’t seem nearly so brilliant.