Science Education & Policy


What rising sea level? Peter, CC BY-SA

By Mark Maslin,University College London

There are many complex reasons why people decide not to accept the science of climate change.

The doubters range from the conspiracy theorist to the skeptical scientist, or from the paid lobbyist to the raving lunatic.


Everyone needs to understand the basics of science to participate fully in the democratic process. shutterstock.

By Jonathan Garlick, Tufts University.

In all of the money and outreach trying to convince more Americans to become scientists, what is most often left out is we train lots of scientists that we then force to return home, where they become competitors to America.

The origin of the student visa versus work visa problem we now face was a cultural mythology that was created, stating that companies would somehow pay foreign STEM graduates less, in defiance of state laws, federal laws, and ethics, unless they were forced to hire U.S. citizens. Because of that, union lobbyists got the American work visa process tightened up, in the belief that it would force American companies to hire people born in the US. Instead, businesses followed the work force back to Asia.


A longitudinal study has found that while higher income children eat worse at school, low-income kids eat healthier than at home. While the political controversy rages over federal efforts to manage local school lunch programs, more data on who has actually been helped by the program over time is needed. 

The results in Preventive Medicine showed that fruit and vegetable intake was higher among low income adolescents on days when they consumed meals at school. The opposite was true for high income adolescents who consumed fewer fruits and vegetables when school was in session, compared to summer months. While in school, all students consumed fruits and vegetables with similar frequency regardless of income level.


Reductions in government healthcare spending in the European Union (EU) increase maternal mortality rates, suggests a new paper in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).

Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of delivery from direct obstetric causes.  The new analysis looked at the association between reductions in government healthcare spending and maternal mortality across the European Union (EU) over a 30 year period, from 1981 to 2010, based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO) database. Data were available for 24 EU countries, a population of 419 million people (2010). 



At UN climate change negotiations, human rights is increasingly the focus. 350.org, CC BY-NC

By Matthew Nisbet
Northeastern University

Senior officials representing nearly 200 countries will gather in Lima, Peru today for the final stages of United Nations-led climate change talks. The meetings, which began December 1, are intended to lay the final groundwork for a major international agreement to be reached a year from now in Paris, France.

Psychology lacks the methodological rigor of science, but bold claims are popular in corporate media and so they become paper of consumer belief. One recent popular claim is that being bilingual is
a cognitive advantage.

The claims are so popular that you will have a hard time getting published in psychology journals if you debunk them. 

Writing in Psychological Science, scholars suggest that publication bias in favor of positive results of the
bilingual-advantage
 hypothesis are skewing the overall literature on bilingualism and cognitive function. Whenever publication bias exists, it is good for creating the belief in a consensus or getting people to take action, but it is bad for public acceptance of science.


A new article  in the Georgia Law Review
details the relationship of two U.S. Supreme Court cases, their impact on freedom of expression, and how they relate to blogging and citizen journalism.


If you ask a female doctor why she didn't go into physics, she is not going to tell you it's because there are more men in physics and that is intimidating. Instead, she will say it's because she wanted to help people or she liked medicine.

Yet a number of sociological claims insist she doesn't really know why she chose not to go into physics, and it may instead be because of subtle self-bias or stereotype threat. 


If you have talked to ranchers or people who live near wolves about being able to shoot them without landing in prison with a mandatory Federal jail sentence, the response is clear: Wolves have to be controlled. If you talk to urban activists or people who hike on state game lands a few weekends a year, wolves are cute and anyone who shoots one should go to jail.

Yet that is not the real issue, according to the authors of a new paper that used surveys as their evidence. They believe the reason for the rancor is fear of wolves or the urge to care for canis lupis. It's simply social identity theory at work. People who live near wolves have never heard of that but they already know where the article in PLOS ONE is going.