Science Education & Policy

Picking cultural winners in the name of public interest is a time-honored tool of government and the social engineers giving them input, but the reasons for bans are often suspect. Banning cigarettes in bars and restaurants rather than creating an evidence-based ventilation requirement was going to cut smoking, it was said, but that hasn't happened no matter what sociological Laffer curve was invoked.

Pundits wanted to create a ghetto-ized underclass but now smokers happily step outside at bars and restaurants, and they meet new people and create their own sub-culture. Less freedom and a more authoritarian government has not caused people to smoke less behind their own closed doors or quit altogether, finds a paper in Nicotine&Tobacco Research.

A child's reading progression isn't based on age, so you need to know what stage your child is up to in order to help them. Image credit:  Shutterstock

Learning to read is a complicated process and parents often wonder if their child is developing reading abilities at the rate they “should”. Research agrees, however, that reading (and writing) is very much a developmental process, which can look very different for different children, regardless of their age.

In America, teachers with tenure can't be fired and so it is more important than ever that the best people get the jobs in the first place. 

Accountability is not going away in the American educational system, and neither are education unions, so new mechanisms for selecting individuals into teacher preparation could boost the quality. A new Video Assessment of Interactions and Learning (VAIL)  tool can inform teacher selection and help stop the ongoing educational reform undertaken by each new administration. 
A 10-year-old boy suffered seizures after over-indulging in licorice sweets and that has led to calls for manufacturers to put a warning on the labels of licorice. 

After suffering a 2 minute tonic-clonic seizure, a 10-year-old boy was admitted to hospital in Bologna, Italy.  Three more generalized seizures occurred over the next few hours and so Dr. Davide Tassinari and colleagues used cranial computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to investigate the possibility of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), but the major clinical conditions that lead to PRES were all ruled out.

Life is unpredictable, and we move forward the best we can despite not knowing every detail.

It's no different in the natural world. The Earth is warming in some places and in some places it isn't, the weather is more variable today except it was always worse in the past when you talk to old people, some years there are more fish and deer than others. 

Beware people who have magic bullets when it comes to conservation; it's all based on estimates and no small amount of speculation surrounding a kernel of things we know to be true. We can only get real policies when we are flexible - sometimes that means making a decision even when unanswered questions remain. 

Children show a vastly improved ability to absorb knowledge when they are allowed to make some of their own decisions about what they want to learn.

Testing, in other words, gets in the way – and worse.

Indeed, as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation comes up for re-authorization this week President Obama has himself stated that testing should be cut down to “a bare minimum.”

Britain's House of Lords voted 280 to 48 to permit the use of three-person IVF - mitochondrial donation to prevent incurable mitochondrial diseases, which afflict around 4,000 children per year - on a case-by-case basis. On February 3rd, the UK House of Commons had already approved the exception to existing law.

Will the FCC repeat past mistakes of regulating telecommunications as utilities? Shutterstock

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler claims that his plan to regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act is “rooted in long-standing regulatory principles.”

That’s not necessarily a good thing.

If wind and solar companies want to continue to get government money, they should take a page out of the natural gas playbook - a new economic analysis found that just three state grants to support natural gas programs totaling $52.9 million generated $128 million in economic impact and 927 full-time jobs in 2014. 

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) administered the three grants: the Clean Transportation Triangle (CTT), the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP) and the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Program (TNGVP).

The discovery, development and approval of new drug treatments has been stymied. Bureaucracy, coupled with a short patent window and attorneys waiting to pounce, has led to increased interest in vaccines, which require a separate litigation process than just filing a lawsuit and collecting a settlement, or obscure diseases guaranteed to have high payouts - the home run strategy. 

And the when the public is not reading about how an FDA-approved drug hurt someone, or reading how drug companies are paying off doctors to get prescriptions, they want every new drug to be generic the moment it is developed. Small wonder small molecules are disappearing.