Science & Society

Sorry I've been absent for a while. (I hope you missed me!) Here's one thing that's been keeping me busy:
WCSJ 2011

WCSJ 2011

Dec 27 2010 | 3 comment(s)

Some shameful self-propaganda is in order today... Such posts have usually borne good fruits in the past, so why not!
I thought I was going into Christmas recess, but then I saw this:
Graduate students the world over have got to be feeling like slackers right now: A group of 8- to 10-year-old British schoolchildren have published a scientific paper in the peer-reviewed (Royal Society) journal Biology Letters.
Also spricht, not Zarathustra, but Live Science in

8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Study on Bees

For too long, scientists have ducked away from public service, not because their peers have been unwilling to elect them, but because there is a sense among scientifically educated people that politics is something to be avoided -- something that is inherently corrupting about the idea of becoming a politician causes most scientists.  For too long, our long term public welfare has been held hostage by our public representatives who act as primarily as politicians rather than statesmen and stateswomen.  The distinction between the two being that politicians seek only to advance policies which secure their next election, while statesmen and stateswomen seek to secure the next generation.
While you sit there, I am simultaneously providing this blog post, this podcast, and this AGU talk.  All on the same topic-- how can we get scientists to provide science for public consumption.

The podcast poses these problems for you, the readers of science:

  • Who writes the science on the web?

  • What is their agenda?

  • Why don't scientists write it?
From the other side, my AGU talk tries to solve it for scientists.  It's rooted in the way that science careers are made and lost.
While Christmas shopping today with my sister and little 3 year old niece, I noticed something that rather disturbed me. And as difficult as it is for me to say this—it was Barbie.

Claire and Barbies
OMG. So many Barbies!
Lisa Rudy posted "Misinterpretation of Autism News Can Cause Serious Confusion" over at's autism site, and the comments have gotten interesting and clearly demonstrate the growing gap between what consumers know and believe and what researchers have determined. This is something I've written about 

The pharmaceutics industry, too many science bloggers, “skeptics” - they all tell us that we should trust science and that all those who speak out for “natural” solutions are none other but religious idiots, or even monsters, criminals who do not refrain from harming your child for financial benefit. They try to bang it into our heads: Also nature is just chemistry; the often not applicable always-been-there-anyways-argument.

As I explained with help of the example of the vitamins E and D, the “tree huggers” often get it right plainly by staying “natural”.

The three problems of humanity were outlined in a talk by Nick Bostrom (of Oxford University, UK) at TED in April 2009.

In this piece I will continue to examine the "big" problems identified in the TEDTalk.  It is this third point that begins to illustrate what the underlying objective of all the other pieces truly is.  

Problem #3:  Life Isn't Usually as Wonderful as it Could Be is a BIG problem
This blog is in response1 to Patrick's excellent M.A.D. 2.0 article. It started as a comment, but I thought, what the heck, let's make it my first blog. I've got to make the leap at some point instead of just lurking and hijacking!
I've come to the conclusion that there is only one thing worse than running out of oil - and that is NOT running out of oil. As the prospect of continuous but ever depleting reserves of hydrocarbons seems quite likely, it becomes even more essential we find alternatives to our current toxic habits. As Patrick clearly articulates, we will be up to our ear-balls in muck if we don't stop using oil. If not us, certainly our children.