You may think of reading Science News as a solitary pleasure, but I have news for you: You’re not alone. Right now, someone is probably reading the same editor’s note or story about the mysterious ways the coronavirus affects people’s brains, or perhaps the piece about how donkeys and wild horses dig water wells that quench the thirst of many beings. alive. even a visiting researcher.
And that’s not just hype. Between our flagship print magazine and the millions of people who read us online (24 million website users by 2020), as well as students and teachers at more than 5,000 schools in the Science News in High Schools program, you have plenty of company. Good company too. Our readers are an experienced team and don’t hesitate to let us know when we make a mistake (thanks!), For asking questions, or for adding perspective to an article. And although like any news organization we get our share of random layoffs, opening our comment inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) never ceases to delight me.
Take the recent letter from Judith Shea, who wrote in response to our special report on the science of misinformation, including the long history of vaccine attacks (SN: 5/8/21 and 5/22/21, p. 32). "I wonder if someone my age is 'anti-vaccination,'" writes Shea, who was born in 1941. As a child, she writes, "each and every one of our friends got sick again and again," suffering from measles, chickenpox, rubella, cough ferina and more. “Polio was the most feared,” he writes. "We would stay awake at night imagining what it would be like to have our legs, arms or even our whole body paralyzed."
When Shea had her own children in the 60s, “Wow, it was so much better. There are no concerns about polio, nor harm to children not born with viruses like measles. "
Some letters are heartbreaking, including that of a teacher in response to our article on the continued underrepresentation of minorities in STEM (SN: 5/8/21 and 5/22/21, p. 20). Nanceen Hoskins described her own experience in seeing discouraged lower-grade color students take honor classes, even when they are more than capable. "Ultimately, the system continues to see those of color as less intelligent, which is reinforced through statistics because they stumbled on the door before it could work."
We also received first-hand stories from scientists who had a first place in science, including a recent note from A. Michael Noll on our role on the evolution of video calling (SN: 24/04/21, p. 22). He worked on the development of video conferencing technology in the 1970s and even contributed to the sequence of videophones in the 2001 film: A Space Odyssey. And we’re always delighted when Benny Rietveld’s name appears on the inbox. Not only is he a longtime reader (subscribed, as he points out, “from before the internet”), but also the bassist of the legendary band Santana. His latest letter criticized a headline about “damage” caused by vaccine hesitation. "I personally would like everyone to read the article and make the immediate judgment about the title runs the risk of diverting potential readers who may have an anti-vax stance." Good point, Mr. Rietveld. Keep writing and thank you for the music.