MicrobeWorld: what have you done?

For the record: Chlamydia is NOT a virus.

I am bummed. I like the little MicrobeWorld radio broadcasts, and the video podcasts are even more fun.

But I was perusing the archives and I found this:


I could ignore this if it came from a different source, but MicrobeWorld is produced with funding from the American Society for Microbiology!

Microbiologists are supposed to know the difference between bacteria and viruses. It's part of our training and big part of what we do.

I know, as scientists we're always supposed to follow the mantra of "buyer beware" and "be skeptical of everything," but as a teacher, and an ASM member, I would like to think that you could relax a little when you're working with a credible source.

I would like to believe that I could tell students to go listen to the MicrobeWorld podcasts without worrying that I'll have to correct the information later on. But, that fantasy is not to be. If the MicrobeWorld editors can't pick out things like this that are blatantly wrong, I guess I'd better be careful about using their podcasts.


but wait, maybe this is an opportunity in disguise? I could use this podcast as a quiz. I could ask students to listen the broadcast and find the mistake. I just can't recommend that high-school teachers, or teachers without microbiology degrees, use these since with a big mistake like this, I'm worried there are more.

*****UPDATE****: I sent an e-mail to MicrobeWorld and the mistake was fixed within the hour! What a response! It turns out that mistake was in the program summary, and not the program itself.

Microbiology instructors: if you find any mistakes in the program summaries, rest assured, you can send an e-mail to MicrobeWorld and they will make quick amends.

My faith in the microbiology community has been restored.

More like this

Real Life (as well as the framing science debate) took too much of my time and energy and attention so I never got to posting this very inportant notice. I will just copy what Sharp Brains put up, but feel free to write your feedback both to me and to Alvaro: What is the Brain Essay Student…
Chris Condayan, ASM's public outreach and media guru (and the guy behind the scenes of MicrobeWorld), has an editorial in the latest issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology. Cleverly titled "Culture media," Condayan encourages microbiologists to get involved sharing their knowledge online (and gives…
The Ecological Society of America has just published an article that surveys the state of science teaching in the US. Some of the results are somewhat reassuring — the majority of our college-bound high school students are at least getting exposed to evolution to some degree — but they're also…
It is very common, across the U.S., for science teachers to dread the "evolution" unit that they teach during life science class. As they approach the day, and start to prepare the students for what is coming, they begin to hear the sarcastic remarks from the creationist students. When the day…

Oh man, that's a big "oops." Have you contacted anyone there yet?

thank you for that story
1) I'm not the only one who gets driven up a wall at that! Huzzah!
2) It's fixed now, because of you!
3) It wasn't due to sheer ignorance but a glitchy summary- some relief from that alone.

Well, some of the credit for getting it fixed belongs to Tara. After all, she suggested I contact that people at MicrobeWorld and that's always a good idea.

Thanks for pointing out this mistake Sandra. We are humans at MicrobeWorld not microbes, and prone to error. The program summaries for the archival database were entered en masse when we created the feature for the website. It was a lot of work at once, and this database is not the friendliest to work with. If you see any more, including mispellings, typos, etc., please feel free to contact me directly first. Thanks. - Chris