Thanksgiving Science 2015

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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the founder of Science 2.0® in 2006 and, since July of 2015, the President of the American Council on Science and Health.

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Like organic food, open access publishing has shrouded itself in a cultural halo, but it's still a business. No one is pumping out 40,000 articles per year, most of them with just a few check boxes called 'editorial review', because the 40,000 best articles happened to show up in their Inboxes, they do it to keep the lights on.
If you like mummies (and who doesn't like mummies?) you are in luck: The Anatomical Record has a special issue with 26 articles devoted to them, all open access. You may not leave the house this weekend.
A paper in Science has been retracted - by the senior author. Because he did not know the data in his paper was fake.

Whether that makes political science or the peer review system look worse will be a matter of debate.
DuPont Pioneer, the seed company that sells corn, sorghum, alfalfa, etc. and was considering expanding Kaua'i operations just a few years ago, has decided instead to close its Parent seed operations there. Like with astronomy, seed operations have been in Hawaii since the 1960s without issue.
Some Americans may regard the half of U.S. science that works in academia as overtly partisan due to a lack of political diversity, but it doesn't affect science issues. Though the anti-vaccine, anti-GMO and anti-energy movements are overwhelmingly populated by the left, scientists readily attack those positions because evidence matters most to American scientists.

Not so much in Europe. American academia may have a political litmus test for getting a faculty job but that doesn't bleed over into science research. In much of Europe you are more likely to need to check off all of the correct cultural boxes to get a job in the first place. And you had better not deviate from the plan.
Like with emissions-free, white-collar astronomy jobs, it seems strange that anyone would protest emissions-free alternative energy, but in the United States it faces an uphill battle. On one side environmental groups lobby for it, while on the other, different environmentalists wait to file lawsuits and if they aren't paid off quickly, it could take years to resolve in court.