Sunday, June 26, 2005

People who annoy me.

You know what really ticks me off? People with no technical background who have nonetheless become nanoscience and nanotechnology "talking heads". A lot of this is our fault - those of us who actually do research at these length scales. Why? Because we've done a lousy job of making sure that journalists can tell the difference between reality and hype. People on my "irresponsible talking head" list:

1) The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. These folks act like a group who have put careful thought into the benefits and risks of nanotechnology. In fact, these folks don't have a physical science degree between them. I don't care how sincerely motivated you are, or how bright: if your idea of nanotechnology comes from reading nontechnical articles, you don't really know what's going on, and if you don't have the technical background to understand real technical articles, I am highly skeptical of your opinions.

2) Josh Wolfe. When he sticks to what he knows - giving investment advice about high technology companies - Josh Wolfe is as solid as they come. Very sharp. However, lately I've seen him making the rounds on CNBC and MSNBC talking as if he really is technically knowledgable about nanoscale science. He's not.

3) Michael Crichton. Apart from the massive plot holes in Prey, what really annoys me about Crichton is that he writes "nonfiction" articles about his novels' topics that get widely circulated (like in syndicated newspaper inserts). He's such an egomaniac that he thinks doing research for one of his novels makes him as qualified as a real expert to expound on science. This is true of his nano novel Prey, and true of his environmentalism novel State of Fear. Dude: you're an author, not a polyglot genius of science. Get over yourself.

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