A benchmark for judging hype:
The researchers created the material on the Pullman campus…The cell contained xenon difluoride (XeF2), a white crystal used to etch silicon conductors, squeezed between two small diamond anvils….The researchers eventually increased the pressure to more than a million atmospheres, comparable to what would be found halfway to the center of the earth….
That’s it: a super-compressed material, not a battery, much less a “Super Battery”. If the material is stable at atmospheric pressure (or anything close), I’ll eat it or breathe the fluorine. This stuff couldn’t even be used in a battery.
As I’ve said, hype like this erodes trust in science and impedes rational choices in research. One way or another, it richly deserves to be stigmatized — how about calling it “deceptive advertising”?
An addendum: By the way, I regard problems like this as primarily institutional and cultural, and I think that placing much blame on any individual would be both unfair and counterproductive.
Why “unfair” to focus blame on individuals?
First, the fundamental problem is with permissive norms and expectations — the actions of people who live down to current standards are more a consequence than a cause. Second, I’m sure that the worst examples of hype emerge thorough multiple stages of exaggeration and confusion, with no standard fact-checking procedure and abysmal standards for what passes for a fact. It’s best to regard responsibility as diffuse, and to not look too closely.
Why “counterproductive” to blame individuals?
I think we’d all benefit from a shift in attitudes that leads decent people to stop doing this, but starting by blaming people for routine behavior would cause needless pain on all sides, making it far more comfortable to instead do nothing. All that’s needed — or appropriate — today is turning up the general level of criticism to make hype less fun, profitable, and acceptable.
For example, people who join in grumbling about deceptive hype at lunch are less likely to produce it when they get back to the office. Progress through griping — what could be more fun?