Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


Scientists Can Be Really Dumb: Exhibit A

Upon occasion, I want to choke the life out of the expert sources I have to rely on for information. I'm writing a story on fertilizer issues for growers. I made a call to this one professor who said he'd help me, but he'd like me to email him what I needed. So, I sent him a simple email outlining my story.

Here was his first email. A little snippy, IMHO, but I know how college professors AKA "intellectuals" can get on their high horse and talk down to us stupid people who don't have lots of initials after our names.

I will need more specific questions from you that I can answer since the topic you mentioned is too broad and general and may require a lot of background and information. I will need to know the exact title of your article, length and format, your affiliation and background so I know how this information will be compiled and presented.

My response:
This is the magazine's website (omitted from blog post, sorry). The readers are growers. This will be an article written with information from university professors and extension agents across the country. I'm struggling to reach the right people in the various regions as everyone keeps passing me along to someone else, so you are my first contact. Often, my first contact helps guide me in the right direction. My article will be about 1,500 words all together from compiling information from various sources. I'm sorry I can't be extremely specific with a broad topic. I'm not a horticulturalist, but a journalist and I rely on my sources to help guide me. This is my specific topic from my editor: I'd like a feature that focuses on the Top 10 issues that nursery growers may face this spring with fertilizer issues. The focus is on FERTILIZER. Call 4-7 of the top university labs with a good cross-section of the country and ask them to list the top issues that NURSERY growers faced last year and what they expect might be the top issues this spring. Does that help you at all? I appreciate your guidance and expertise.

After a few more email exchanges that were all similar in nature, here is his response:
As I have said earlier, it is not possible for me to write this article. I just pointed a few issues. You will need to do it if you are the author. The issues are several and each one requires substantial information to appropriately make the point. Uf (sic) you have written something I can look at it offer a few comments. I cannot do it for you.

Ok, jackass, I'm not asking you to write the damn story for me. I'm a writer, you're the scientist. Hello!?! Who is the reader going to give more credence to? You or me? All I asked for was some quotes - his opinons based upon his expertise - regarding issues in the industry in which he has multiple advanced degrees. He was talking to me like I was some undergrad asking him to write my term paper for me. No. I need you to talk to me so I can add your comments to the rest of the scientific quotes. Now, in his defense (and in my best Texan twang), he ain't from around here, but I thought I did a fairly good job of communicating what I was doing and what I was asking of him. English is likely his second language, but he speaks asshole just fine.


  • At 6:49 PM, February 09, 2009, Blogger RedWritingHood said…

    ARGH! So frustrating!

    I just found your site, I LOVE it!

    I just wrote a whole chapter in my book on manure management. I found my sources through HARO ( and by posting questions on

    Hope that helps! I don't think my sources are specific enough to nurseries, or I'd send them to you. But Colorado State University was a huge help:

  • At 7:11 PM, February 09, 2009, Blogger Army of Mom said…

    DOH! I have even written blog posts about HARO and I can't believe I didn't think to check it out. Good reminder. And, I think *knocking on wood* that I got enough sources. I got LSU, University of Oregon and Mississippi State University. I wanted more sources, but it will work. Thanks!


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