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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Professor Malcolm Bowman Gives Advice to Journalism Students

    The city of Venice is sinking into the sea. England is only six inches above sea level. A quarter million people lost their lives in 2005 in Indonesia due to a tsunami. Global warming does not exist. How easy is it to separate the fiction from the facts?

    In a matter-of-fact fashion, Professor Malcolm Bowman told Stony Brook University journalism students, in a science journalism class, the importance of being able to tell the difference between real science and science fiction.

    “Many times we don’t know what’s fact or fiction,” said Bowman. “And the thing is, it will be based on fact, but [people’s] imaginations run wild and it turns into fiction.”

    Professor Bowman teaches Physical Oceanography at the university and, according to his official website, he is a Distinguished Service Professor at the Marine Sciences Research Center. He is also the coordinator of the Stony Brook Storm Surge group, which seeks possible storms threats to the New York metropolitan area. At a time when the United Nations climate panel says that by 2010, sea levels will probably rise 16 inches, the group wishes to warn the city before a “severe weather event” hits.

    Discussing environmental issue facts such as the origin of Long Island and where Stony Brook University lies, Professor Bowman particularly stressed the value of self-education and the resulting ability to discern.

    Within his particular field, there are many controversies surrounding the issue of global warming. On Mar. 8, 2007, a documentary called the “The Great Global Warming Swindle” premiered on the United Kingdom’s Channel 4. The documentary refutes all connections to carbon dioxide and global warming, the opposite of what has been published by accomplished scientists, weather specialists and many others. The documentary illustrates how easy a particular group with a special interest can gather information from real people and garnish it into a story that has no validity, Bowman said.

    “You want to scratch your head after you watch these documentaries by so-called reputable people,” said Bowman, recalling his own experience with National Geographic, which held a three-minute interview with him and stretched it over the course of an hour-long radio show. “They take your quotes and weave into their own story.”

    There’s no substitute like being on the field, or on the sea in Bowman’s case. With a pointed eye, folded hands and scholarly air, he encouraged the future journalists to try and change the way people think, as he does, with good writing and simple fact.

    “You cannot fake it,” said Bowman.

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