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X died of pneumonia doing experiments in the cold myths?

  1. May 6, 2016 #1
    Can science text writers please stop repeating these sorts of unfounded, unscientifically grounded anecdotes in science texts as if they are fact.

    I was just reading in Universe 8th ed. astronomy text and found this passage:

    "Sadly, Goodricke paid for his discoveries with his life; he caught pneumonia
    while making his nightly observations and died before his
    twenty-second birthday."

    Really! Come on man, they have to stop doing this. The same applies to science lit that features the Francis Bacon myth of catching a 'chill' while doing refrigeration experiments with Chicken. Even if the somewhat sketchy link between cold weather and sickness could still be technically verified (meaning the actual 'cold' itself), there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that either Goodricke or Bacon died from doing their work in the cold. People have been working in cold weather since time immemorial. These are science texts in which you are trying to get your students to take you seriously. I mean, it would probably be fine to reference the anecdote just so long as you presented it in an "as the story goes" fashion with some qualifying remark. But to come right out and say Goodricke's nightly observations killed him. Geez.

    I am kind of curious if anyone can think of any other similar stories that tend to still be parroted as fact in science literature.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2016 #2

    micromass

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