Author Biography

Karen_McKeeDr. Karen McKee is a scientist with forty years of research experience. Her educational training includes a B.S. in zoology and a M.S. and a Ph.D. in botany. She has studied various aspects of wetlands, more recently focusing on global change effects of elevated carbon dioxide, climate change, and rising sea level. Her research has spanned multiple international locations, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Belize, Panama, Honduras, Brazil, The Netherlands, Denmark, China, Australia, and New Zealand. Dr. McKee’s research has been published in over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She is a frequent invited speaker at international conferences and has delivered more than 150 technical presentations and seminars. Dr. McKee is co-founder and trustee of The Wetland Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides travel grants to students of wetland science. She has produced several peer-reviewed videos that describe her research as well as topics of general interest such as climate change, sea-level rise, hurricanes, and large river deltas. Dr. McKee has actively promoted science communication by scientists and worked to encourage more scientists and science students to acquire better multimedia skills. To this end, she has produced many free tutorials to train scientists in the use of video for science communication and hosts a video blog, The Scientist Videographer, where she provides additional advice andfish_karenlmckee information. Her ebook, The Scientist Videographer, is the culmination of years of experience as a science communicator.

In addition to science and videography, she also enjoys painting, fishing, hiking, and botanizing.

Recent Posts

Use Video to Debunk Bad Science

You’ve probably seen viral videos claiming some medical breakthrough and cleverly titled “Use this weird trick to cure [insert ailment]”. People seem to find this teaser title irresistible. Jonathan Jarry and colleagues at McGill University’s Office for Science and Society use a similar title for a video that has a surprising twist in store for gullible viewers: “This natural trick can cure your cancer”.

The video initially claims to present a cure for cancer based on a species of moss (Funariidae karkinolytae), that has been known since the 1800s. The reason you’ve not heard about it, the video claims, is because the knowledge has been suppressed by pharmaceutical companies. The video then shows an old, black and white photograph of a Dr. Johan R. Tarjany, who looks very professorial in his three-piece suit and bow tie, and describes him as the discoverer of the moss’s cancer-killing trait. The video then goes on to tell the story of the moss and how it kills cancer cells by altering their DNA. And, of course, Dr. Tarjany added the moss to his diet and guess what? He never developed cancer.

At this point, the viewer is probably impressed with Dr. Tarjany and his discovery. Except there is no Dr. Tarjany and everything so far presented is untrue. In the remaining minute, the video deconstructs the claims it made earlier about Dr. Tarjany and the cancer-killing moss. In the process, the video’s creators provide a blueprint for viewers to follow when confronted by such a claim–how to evaluate the “evidence” and look for inconsistencies in the “facts” presented.

In just a couple of minutes, this video shows how viewers can be fooled into believing a pseudoscientific idea and how to avoid it–and did it in a way that was entertaining. Using the pseudoscience playbook to make the video was particularly clever and effective. Check it out below (the comments are also interesting–see the link to YouTube):

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