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Comments OffPosted on Monday 28 July 2008 at 7:30 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Mathematics

One of my science communication pet hates is stories about scientists discovering “the formula for x”, where x is a successful sitcom, why people vote, or happiness, just to name a few. The latest culprit is PR agent Mark Borkowski who claims to have found a “scientific formula” for fame. The formula itself is given […]


Comments OffPosted on Sunday 14 February 2010 at 9:10 pm by Jacob Aron
In Mathematics, Psychology, Weekly Roundup

Valentine’s love poetry brings a hot rush of blood to the cheeks I wrote this piece for the Guardian as part of their Valentine’s Day coverage: Steamy love poems are always popular around Valentine’s Day, but can a few lines of tender verse really make people hot under the collar? Researchers at Aberystwyth University attempted […]


1 Comment »Posted on Thursday 14 January 2010 at 7:09 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Mathematics

Finding it difficult to meet your perfect partner? According to the Daily Mail, a”maths genius” can explain with a “baffling” equation. That’s right, it’s the first “formula for” story of 2010! The Mail and others have leapt on a rather silly paper by Peter Backus, a University of Warwick economist. He’s used the Drake equation, […]


Comments OffPosted on Sunday 1 November 2009 at 6:12 pm by Jacob Aron
In Biology, Chemistry, Getting It Wrong, Mathematics, Weekly Roundup

Formulas, multiplied For some reason the Independent have decided to publish the mother of all “formula for” stories – ten examples of the best worse science reporting there is. They include ones I’ve written about before, like the formula for the perfect pancake,but also a bunch I’d not previously seen. The best has to be […]


Comments OffPosted on Thursday 7 May 2009 at 12:07 pm by Jacob Aron
In Biology, Getting It Wrong

Long time readers of Just A Theory will be well aware of my hatred of a well-worn science journalism trope, the “formula for” story. This vile being has a sibling which I’m surprised to realise I’ve never written about: the “gene for” story. In a way this variety of nonsense is much more dangerous, allowing […]


Comments OffPosted on Sunday 12 April 2009 at 12:53 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Right, Inventions & Technology, Weekly Roundup

Nine scientific words that are actually from science fiction Jeff Prucher, freelance lexicographer and editor for the Oxford English Dictionary’s science fiction project has put together a list of common scientific words that originated in fiction. Such terms include “robotics”, “ion drive” and even “zero-gravity”. Reading the comments of the article however, it seems that […]


2 Comments »Posted on Friday 13 February 2009 at 11:03 am by Jacob Aron
In Chemistry, Getting It Wrong

Now don’t laugh, but in the interest of bringing you a 100% factually accurate report, I’ve just been sniffing my ironing board. It’s all because of a recent press release informing us that the aroma of chips is made up of butterscotch, cocoa, onion, cheese and ironing boards. All ready, your bullshit meter should be […]


3 Comments »Posted on Monday 19 January 2009 at 1:46 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Mathematics

According to the Daily Mail, today is “the most depressing day in HISTORY” – so say the “experts”. Forget your credit crunches, terrorist attacks and military invasions, today is Blue Monday, so we should all apparently feel very sorry for ourselves. Well, I’m quite pleased actually because I get another nonsense formula to bash! You […]


Comments OffPosted on Wednesday 10 December 2008 at 9:42 pm by Jacob Aron
In Mathematics

I’m sorry to have two similar stories so close together, but when I saw that the Sun had published a formula for determining if your boobline is too low, I just had to say something. Apparently, following the dress-popping antics of Britney Spears “scientists, undies experts and mathematicians have been trying to figure out where […]


Comments OffPosted on Tuesday 9 December 2008 at 5:50 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Mathematics, Psychology

Long term readers of Just A Theory may remember that one of the very first posts here was about a pet hate of mine: junk equations. Back then it was a formula for fame, but this time it’s the bane of students with essay deadlines ever: procrastination. Thankfully I handed in my essay yesterday, so […]