Wizard teacher follow up

Wizard teacher follow up

Wizard teacher follow up

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 18 2008 9:58 AM

Wizard teacher follow up

Via Fark comes a followup to the story about Jim Piculas, a substitute teacher who was fired for, among other things, wizardry.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

It's amusing; the teacher is distancing himself from the wizardry comment, though in this new article he never blames the reporter in the original article for inflating the story (which is starting to sound like what happened, at leats in part). This article is more about nasty emails the school received (none from here, I trust), and how this story rolled out of control on the internet.

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Well, sure. It's the internet. Of course, I wrote about this story when it came out. As I wrote it I remember thinking that all I had to go on was this one source, so I linked the story as "As reported by Channel 10 in Tampa..." Perhaps I should have expressed more doubt to its veracity, but the article quotes Piculas well enough to see that this was the thrust of his story.

I try to be careful when passing on stories I see, because you never know how accurate they may be. And I've made my mistakes! However, in this case, given the quotations by Piculas, any problems can be laid squarely at his feet and those of the reporter who originally interviewed him. Piculas talked about the wizardry point to the reporter, and it would be monumentally naive to assume the article wouldn't focus on that. It's difficult to know if Piculas himself put a lot of emphasis on that part or if the reporter did when writing the story.

One thing I'll agree with him on: he does take to task the people who wrote nasty letters; not that they supported him, but that the letters were mean-spirited. I see no reason to do that; all writing angry letters does is make you look foolish and make the subject of your letter dig in their heels. In cases like that, honey is better than vinegar.

But the real lesson here is be careful what you say to a reporter: what they think is important and what you think is important may be very different things.