Amongst the information WordPress provides on the blog are the search engine terms that have lead people here. In the last couple of days four people searched “Donna Staunton” and clicked through to me, which raises the question as to whether there are actually a lot of people searching for her all the time, or whether someone heard about my comments in the last but one post and did a search to find it.
One other reader arrived by doing a search on “Stephen Luntz credentials”. I’ve no idea if this is someone preparing a whithering attack on how unqualified I am to run a blog that now averages 30 hits a day, or if they’re coming with a more open mind, but either way, let me put the answer out there for anyone who is interested.
I am not, and never have been, a research scientist in any field. I don’t claim to be, and hope I don’t give that impression. I am a science communicator. I have undergraduate degrees in science and arts, with my majors being physics, English literature and the history and philosophy of science. I then did a graduate diploma in science communication (the same qualification Joanna Nova has, just btw, although her previous degree was in molecular biology, which is probably a little less relevant to climate change discussions than physics).
For the last 15 years I have been working 1-2 days a week as a science journalist. In that time I have conducted more than 2500 interviews with Australian and New Zealand scientists (along with a few dozen visiting dignitaries). I’ve interviewed the same scientists up to seven or eight times in some cases, but think the total number of people I have talked to about their work is probably over 2000, which is a pretty fair substantial share of the scientific community in Australasia.
My qualification, primarily, is that most of these people seem to think I have done a reasonably good job of representing their work. This varies of course. I’ve had a few express disappointment with the article – I got savagely attacked over one piece and accused of plagiarism over another – but overwhelmingly the response I get is “good article, thanks”, with not-infrequent references to how much better a job I have done than other media outlets.
That’s not surprising when I’m being compared to The Australian, but it was very nice to have someone tell me I got their work right when both New Scientist and Nature had it wrong.
The opinions I express on this blog have more of me in them than what I write for the magazine, and its possible that any scientists who find this would be less happy as to how I represent their work here than in the magazine, but generally speaking these are the credentials on which I base my credibility.