The 2009 Writer’s Travel Scholarship


Write something, win a round-trip ticket to anywhere. Really. The 2009 Writer’s Travel Scholarship is now accepting submissions at This short-form writing contest, now in its fifth year, is open to all writers and aspiring writers. Entries must be 10,000 words or less and can be fiction or non-fiction on any topic — we’re not looking specifically for travel writing.

Submissions accepted through April 30th. Full details here.

I think everyone needs to get out and see the world, especially those who are inclined, for whatever reason, to tell someone else about it later. Write, and go forth!

Science Writing is Hard

Science is sometimes really tricky, which makes writing about it even trickier. No real experiment exists apart from a huge background of assumptions, abstractions, caveats and complexities;  the writer’s job is to find a strong narrative that is understandable with little or no prior knowledge, scans well, and catches the reader’s attention.

Recent research on physiological differences between liberal and conservative voters seems like a dream come true if you’re in need of a catchy press release, like this one from the National Science Foundation. I read the actual paper, and it says that people who answer more conservatively on a questionnaire about their politics tend also to have more pronounced “fight-or-flight” reactions to disturbing or surprising stimuli, as measured by skin conductance and startle response.

The press release tells a different story, and I believe that the NSF science writer told the wrong story. I attribute this partially to the politics of publicity, but mostly to the fact that science is actually very subtle, and hard to summarize.

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