Science & Society

Abbott Laboratories, the $40 billion conglomerate involved in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and supplements such as Similac and Ensure, has stated they will create a GMO-free version of Similac for parents who worry about GMOs inside their kids.

They cited a survey showing 20 percent of respondents wanted that option. The survey also noted that wealthier people in places like California and the Northeast were willing to pay more. Almost all baby formula uses corn and soy derivatives and more than 90 percent of those crops are GMOs, so  this will be for niche consumers who don't regard cost as an object.
In America, where there is a two-party system, there are numerous opportunities to compromise or cross party lines politically, so looking at where someone falls on a conservative-liberal graph lines doesn't tell us much about how they will vote. Democrats receive over 90 percent of education union donations, for example, so no left-right model predicted that the education reform known as No Child Left Behind would pass  91-8 in the Senate and 384-41 in the House.
Early Christian writers were fond of putting words into other people’s mouths.

When the apostle Paul (the theologian formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) wrote to the church in Corinth about a particularly significant religious experience, he informed them that his journey to the “third heaven” or “Paradise” resulted in his hearing “things that are not able to be told, that no mortal is permitted to speak”.

When we catch balls, Jeff Hawkins, cofounder of Numenta and author of “On Intelligence,” tells us we aren’t solving differential equations. A robot, on the other hand, does solve differential equations, requiring roughly 3-trillion calculations for a 1s toss (“Kinematically Optimal Catching a Flying Ball with a Hand-Arm-System,” Berthold Bauml, Thomas Wimbock and Gerd Hirzinger, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, 2010).

A true story. To protect the innocent – and the writer – I’ll use no names.

The president of a large, multi-national engineering and construction firm decided to attract more contracts by reducing customers’ risks. A sound decision, yes? 

It was what he did (which was to offer fixed-price contracts instead of cost-plus contracts) and how he did it (by developing his people and by continuous process improvement) that got him fired - even though the move was showing every sign of success.

So why was he dismissed? The answer lies in that ol’ stereotype of the corporation as an externality-generating machine.

Fashion is a huge industry and they use thin models because creating an ideal - the belief that women will look like that if they buy the clothes - is a time-honored strategy.

Yet as more American women become overweight and obese, and it becomes more difficult to create suspension of disbelief about body imaging psychology, that old strategy is less effective. A survey of diverse group of 239 women finds that marketing to the "thin ideal" -- the belief that thinner is better -- could be alienating up to 70 percent of their audience, said James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.  

Advertisers tend to default to this ideal without knowing for sure if other options are viable, James Roberts said.


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.

In recent years, the popularity of "electronic dance music" (EDM) and dance festivals has increased substantially throughout the US and worldwide.

Even though data from national samples suggests drug use among adolescents in the general US population has been declining, targeted samples have shown nightclub attendees tend to report high rates of drug use, above that of the general population. In spite of increasing deaths among dance festival attendees in recent years, no nationally representative studies have examined potential associations between nightlife attendance and drug use.


Historian Mark Griffiths claims to have cracked a code in an Elizabethan book on botany to discover a true portrait of Shakespeare made within the bard’s own lifetime.

The find has been hailed as “the literary discovery of the century” by the editor of Country Life – the magazine in which the details of Griffiths' process will be revealed. Yet other scholars, including the Director of the Shakespeare Institute, professor Michael Dobson, remain skeptical.

If you want cheap medicine, Canadian taxpayers make it possible to get a great deal, but when it comes to new medicines, Canada is behind similar countries, according to a new report which ranks it 16th out of 18 comparable OECD countries. 

Only 23% of 141 Health Canada-approved new medicines were included in public plans, ranking Canada 17 out of 18 there. Public drug plans in Canada make new medicines available only on a conditional, case-by-case basis, resulting in more administration, longer wait times for patients before beginning treatment, increased paperwork for physicians and no guarantee that patients will receive coverage.

The report further notes that: