A Singular Data Point Is A Datum, You Idiots!

There’s a moment when you realize that you’ve become the person you hate. For me, it happened at the dinner table. I was telling (ok, ranting to) my husband about how my employer, FiveThirtyEight, has chosen to adopt as its house style the usage of the word data as a singular noun. “So you’ve become […]

Jonah Lehrer, Scientists, and the Nature of Truth

Last week the journalism world was buzzing about — guess who? — Jonah Lehrer. Yes, again. We knew about the science writer’s self-plagiarism and Bob-Dylan-quote fabrication. Last week a New York Magazine exposé by Boris Kachka claimed that Lehrer also deliberately misrepresented other people’s ideas. Kachka’s piece led to some fascinating discussions about whether it’s possible to […]

Astronomy’s Ice Cream

The word, “data” – tables of numbers, incomprehensible graphs —  for most of us would make a good sleep aid.  For astronomers, though, “data” means a star-sized thing  that outshines a galaxy, or a galaxy just being born, or a star that spins in milliseconds.  Data for astronomers is a way to survive, a reason […]