Science Education & Policy

Genetically Modified crops - GMOs – are not popular with organic shoppers and anyone else obsessed with the naturalistic fallacy. When program topics at a food conference include "Enforcing the consumer’s right to be stupid", you can be sure they are not talking about raw milk. Wednesday, April 9th, Queen's University Belfast will see the Food Integrity and Traceability Conference - ASSET 2014 - take place.


Federal appointees do not report to the public. They are political picks chosen to advance the agenda of their administration. Since they are picked to influence issues of science, politics comes first, and science might come second — but, more often than not, last. That explains how institutions such as the EPA and Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignore and suppress inconvenient research. 

Frustratingly, political appointees and their hand-picked experts are also determining the future health of our children. Administration True Believers are deciding what is dogma and what is heretical. We’re facing a looming Food Inquisition, and few people seem to notice.

(Co-Author: Marie Ernestine Fajatin, Ph.D.)

Quality of instruction suffers, according to Smith and Ragan (1999), when instruction is not “carefully planned.” High quality education can be assured when poor quality of instruction is minimized if not, eradicated. Instructional designs (I.D.'s) offer a solution to this. According to Pritchard (2005), "instructional design  offers a process of systematic planning towards an effective instructional delivery."

California State Sen. Noreen Evans wants any food that contains a genetically modified ingredient to have a special label declaring it - unless the product is alcohol.

It might seem that when lives are at stake, a little bit of pressure comes with the territory. Doctors who can't take pressure should be doing something besides medicine, like teaching at medical schools. 

A paper in Academic Medicine says there is a happy medium and that removing pressure from medical school while teaching students skills to manage stress and bounce back from adversity improves their mental health and boosts their academic achievement.

Stuart Slavin, M.D., M.Ed., associate dean for curriculum at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, is lead author of the paper which says depression among medical school students is significant, affecting between 20 and 30 percent of medical students in the U.S.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued another report, following up on the Working Group I report in October of 2013.

The controversial final draft, with verbage negotiations encompassing 100 countries and with some resignations by scientists over the tone, says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans and that the world is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. 
The American Physical Society is reviewing its Climate Change Statement.

The APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) formed a Subcommittee, consisting of Steven Koonin, Phillip Coyle, Scott Kemp, Tim Meyer, Robert Rosner and Susan Seestrom, to consider revisions to its 2007 statement and that group convened a workshop with 6 climate experts, including 3 who are skeptics, though really they are more "lukewarm-ists" than the 'denier' label attributed to everyone who isn't a Think Progress-style Doomsday prophet.
About 66%f school heads think that school boards have value in rooting schools in the community, but about 45% still think they are unnecessary. 60% think that it is wrong that boards decide on HR matters.

A survey funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and conducted by the University of Zurich and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland surveyed 270 school heads in all of the cantons in French and German-speaking Switzerland. Their findings reveal that school boards remain extremely important. 86% of the respondents report that their school communities have such boards. Moreover, 80% of school boards retain decision-making powers.

Soda taxes and beverage portion size restrictions mandated by government are the poster children for social authoritarian efforts to control behavior but a recent survey in Preventive Medicine finds that the public is not willing to believe that a 15 ounce soda is okay but banning a 17 ounce soda will cure obesity.


What is high blood pressure? When do you need medication?

The answer was never clear. What is clear is that a lot of people are on medication that may not need it. In February, the Eighth Joint National Committee relaxed the blood pressure goal in adults 60 years and older to 150/90 from 140/90. The result will be that up to 5.8 million U.S. adults will no longer be told they need hypertension medication. That's good for the federal government, which is going to be increasingly concerned about costs as Obamacare is adopted, and it is good for the parts of culture that believe guidelines are created by pharmaceutical companies who control recommendations. It may actually be fine for patients also.