Europeans drawn from three ancient ‘tribes’

BBC News – Europeans drawn from three ancient ‘tribes’.


BBC humanities graduates dumbing down science?

The BBC is dumbing down science programmes because it is staffed with humanities graduates who are ignorant about the subject, a leading academic and presenter has claimed.

Well I have always found the BBC’s science programming rather good and whilst some of it does seek to simplify (rather than dumb down) for particular audience segments, other programmes are really quite challenging. Think, for example, of The Secret Life of the Cell which I reviewed in October last year. Very well produced, a fascinating, even dramatic portrayal of an incredibly difficult subject. One may carp about specific programmes but I don’t believe a wholesale criticism of the Corporation’s entire scientific output is sustainable.

I suppose I can understand a scientist’s inherent distrust of humanities graduates, but I can’t sympathise with it – I hold an MA in scientific and medical history; Lisa Jardine herself is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College London, an eminent science historian, but also since 2008 Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority – as a cross-disciplinarian herself, she should know better.

BBC humanities graduates dumbing down science – Telegraph.

Pillock Paxman

Jeremy Paxman can be quite the pillock.

Tim Peake, the British astronaut who is due to spend six months on the Soyuz space station in 2015, became one of Jeremy Paxman’s least likely victims in a combative interview on Newsnight in which the presenter suggested that space travel was merely a waste of taxpayers’ money. “What’s the point?”, Paxo wearily asked. “You’re just drifting around, aren’t you?”.

How bizzare. Tragically, Paxman’s line of questioning and real-or-pretend ignorance probably does reflect the attitudes of many. John Crace has more fun with this as he imagines Paxo grilling Gandhi, Churchill, Berners-Lee and Mother Teresa.

Lord Winston knocks the BBC’s treatment of science

I am a big fan of the BBC, and I have reviewed some of its historical and scientific output in this very blog. But if you are a bit more “hardcore” than me, or have a special interest in certain politically-charged subjects, like climate change for example, the venerable broadcaster can be subject to criticism. Continue reading

TV Review: Andrew Marr’s History of the World

We are now over halfway through Andrew Marr’s ambitious eight-part BBC documentary, confidently titled Andrew Marr’s History of the WorldI am always a sucker for television projects of such vast scope and ambition, presenting as they do an opportunity for epic factual storytelling. They don’t get much more ambitious than this – attempting to capture the sweep and grandeur of humanity’s history in a mere eight hours is audacious and gleefully foolhardy. Continue reading