Science & Society

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A paper in Science has been retracted - by the senior author.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:
239 representatives from Finnish small and medium-sized businesses responded to new survey  by the Lappeenranta University of Technology about external and internal obstacles for productivity improvement experienced by companies. The results of the survey reveal that there have been three shifts in the key obstacles that have restrained the improvement of productivity since 1997:

(1) Obstacles to the improvement of productivity have shifted from internal to external obstacles. It is no longer competition from outside or navigating market forces, it is high wages and ancillary costs, like social security and taxes, legislation, and trade union activities by employees.
The European Union has released some data on the latest call for applications for ITN grants. These are "training networks" where academic and non-academic institutions pool up to provide innovative training to doctoral students, in the meanting producing excellent research outputs.

In 2003, while French youth protested American imperialism, 14,000 mostly elderly people were allowed to die in a heat wave. Heat waves kill a lot more people, it is believed, except they don't. Instead, an analysis of  74 million deaths in 384 locations across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, and the USA found that cold weather kills about 20 times as many people as hot weather.


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.

Can scientists learn from listening to public reaction to the products they develop? And should they?

As a philosopher by training (and as a science journalist by profession) I am delving into ethical questions surrounding genetic modification. My reflections were triggered by an article by my friend Alle Bruggink, a professor in industrial chemistry at the University of Nijmegen in The Netherlands. He explored why the public remains suspicious about biotechnology – a surprise to many biotechnological researchers.