Trust no one
Trust affects kids’ patience” (SN: 11/17/12, p. 10) refers only to children. But based on my own experience, I’d expect it to apply to adults as well. If you tell me I can have $100 now or $200 in an hour, what I do will depend on whether or not I trust you to come through with the $200 in an hour. I’d expect this to apply to anyone who is old enough to have a concept of the future and has had experience with trustworthy and untrustworthy people.
Ted Grinthal, Berkeley Heights, N.J.

Updated writing tips
Thanks for the reprint of the 1950 “Hints for writing science” mentioned in the letter from the editor (SN: 12/1/12, p. 2). The list of “stories that should be handled with care” has to be updated; quite a few concepts previously thought wacky are now mainstream. Here are a few, with updates:

  • Long-range weather forecasts in general: global warming.
  • Animals that “think” or “read minds”: Science News has printed many articles on animal consciousness and perception.
  • Any absolute cure of any disease: eradication of smallpox.
  • “Marking” of children by experiences of mother before birth: methylation.
  • Determining or controlling of sex before birth: ultrasound and in vitro fertilization.
  • Engine-stopping rays: electromagnetic pulses.
  • Gigantic snakes in temperate zones: Does Miami count? They have this python problem…
  • Hybrids between unlike plants or animals: genetically engineered chimeras.
  • Discovery of prehistoric men of gigantic or dwarfed size: “hobbits” in Southeast Asia.

Keep up the good work; who knows how many more of ones I didn’t list will become true in 2074.
Al Pergande, Orlando, Fla.

Twitter and Twain
Rachel Ehrenberg’s review of the use of Twitter analysis in American politics “Social Media Sway,” (SN: 10/20/12, p. 22) points out how difficult it is to correct misinformation once it has gotten out.  It is remarkable how prescient Mark Twain was when he penned his witticism, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Robert Fiske, Long Beach, Calif.

To the new editor in chief
Sincerest congratulations to Eva Emerson for her promotion to editor in chief. Since Tom Siegfried’s departure, she has overseen the magazine with grace and aplomb. I am sure Science News will be in good hands under Eva’s management.
Loring Wirbel, via e-mail