Pisetsky: Science at the (baseball) plate

Friday, April 26, 2013

David Pisetsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and immunology, shared an essay on scientific writing with Scientific American:

Despite glorious data described in the results section in today’s scientific papers, the discussions are usually a slog, overflowing with disclaimers, qualifications and stipulations that can rumble on for pages. Inherently bland and enervated (and enervating), such writing can effectively transform a joyous cry of "Eureka!" into a muffled mumble of "Ho-hum." To illustrate how the style of science writing can temper both thinking and feeling, I wrote the following account of a hypothetical World Series contest as if it would appear in a prestigious publication like the New England Journal of Medicine. I think that this piece shows clearly what would happen if reporter would record, with the detachment, rationality and style demanded of a scientist, the drama and feverish excitement of one of great happenings of American sports.

I wrote this piece a time of optimism before the 2012 playoffs and series actually occurred. Alas, the Bronx Bombers bombed and the Giants triumphed over the toothless Tigers. As a baseball fan from New York, all I can say is "Wait till next year." As a scientist wanting to flash a little a personality, liven up my craft and tell the world how snazzy and nifty my data really are, I can only echo the words of the great sage and philosopher Yogi Berra. "Take it with a grin of salt."

Click here to read Dr. Pisetsky's essay.