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AAAS Kavli Lecture Series: Science Reporting in the Age of Fake News

  • Wang Center Lecture Hall Stony Brook University Stony Brook, New York Stony Brook University (map)

Lecturer: Carl Zimmer, columnist at The New York Times and national correspondent at STAT

Are humans causing the planet to get hotter? Do vaccines cause autism? Did our species evolve 300,000 years ago? Scientists have come to firm answers about these questions (yes, no, yes). Yet these subjects and many others are now fiercely contested — in some cases by government officials. These challenges have dogged science reporters for decades, but the state of 21st-century journalism and politics has brought a new sense of urgency to the profession. Zimmer’s talk will explore the current state of science reporting, including some hopeful innovations that may bring more understanding to the public about how the world works.

Zimmer has written 13 books about biology and medicine and hundreds of features for magazines such as The Atlantic, National Geographic, Scientific American and The New York Times Magazine. As one interviewer wrote of Zimmer, “Unlike his literary icon, Herman Melville, he doesn’t adorn his writing with ornate flourishes or complicated scaffolding. His approach is simple, elegant, and potent, much like the microscopic lifeforms he so often examines. And, like these microorganisms, he is a marvel of adaptability and innovation.” Zimmer won the AAAS Kavli award twice in the large newspaper category (2012 and 2009) and once in the online category (2004).