Science, Tech & Environment

Scientists use Twitter to discuss experimental methods


Scientists use the #OverlyHonestMethods to share their methods in reaching their scientific conclusions. (Photo by UC Davis College of Engineering via Wikimedia Commons).

Scientists are taking to Twitter to tweet the truth with the hashtag #OverlyHonestMethods.

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The hashtag spreading across the Twitterverse is inspiring people throughout the scientific community to share their insights into the world of science. The goal is to give outsiders an honest look into the methods and reasoning scientists use to reach their conclusions.

Tweets using the #OverlyHonestMethods hashtag include:

“Incubation lasted three days because this is how long the undergrad forgot the experiment in the fridge.”

“The Eppendorf tubes were 'shaken like a Polaroid picture' until that part of the song was done."

“Healthy control blood was taken from a donor with informed written consent. I know they were informed because it was me.”

Janet D. Stemwedel, a former chemist and current associate professor of philosophy at San Jose State University, says the tweets reveal genuine dilemmas many scientists face in the lab.

"It’s not a robotic precise work force. It’s real human beings, they have attention spans that wander, they have stomachs that rumble, and being honest about that is kind of nice," she said.

Though the majority of the tweets seem harmless, some scientists are concerned the tweets could provide ammunition for critics to discredit research.

"Some scientists might actually worry that if they’re too honest with their methods, this is another opportunity for people with a reflexive distrust of science to come in and say 'oh look, these horrible people are wasting our tax dollars doing silly things like dancing with their Eppendorf tubes in the lab,'" she said.

Stemwedel says while certain people will have a bone to pick with science no matter what, these tweets give the public unique insights into the scientific process.

"They’re showing us a window into the human side of how the knowledge gets built. Scientists not only have a commitment to building reliable knowledge about the world, they have a sense of humor," she said