I am happy to announce the bestowal of A False Authority Doughnut Award to Charles Choi for his article in the LiveScience feed “Atomic Physics Predicts Successful Store Location.” [Link] Mr. Choi was reporting on the use of Atomic Physics methods to predict the success of store locations.
Journalism is the craft of answering the so-called “W” questions: who; what; why; when; and how. Mr. Choi managed to completely avoid any constructive treatment of the how question. To quote Mr. Choi:
“To see how well one kindof business, such as furniture stores, attracted or repelled other types of stores, such as delis or hairdressers, Jensen (the scientist) looked at each kind of store and then examined what other sorts of businesses were or were not found within a 300-foot radius, which he judged as a typical distance a customer accepts to walk to visit different stores. He then plugged those numbers into calculations that are normally used to study atomic interactions.”
How was the “judgment” performed? How are the “Calculations” done?
I don’t expect to see reproduction of actual maths in a popular feed, but I do expect a descriptionwith substance.
This helps explain however, why Live Science is one of the worst of the popular science feeds.
So congratulations to Mr. Choi and Live Science for a truly enlightening article worthy of the intelligence of pond scum.