Science & Society

According to ABC 7 Denver unnamed "friends" have dubbed Richard Heene a "Mad Scientist".Oh here we go again!  Then this news station reports every bad word someone can say about him, with no independent verification.    There are many many stories like this out there, all relying on the reporting of other news outlets often with no independent verification of anything. Most of the "news" out there on this topic is the same way.  The meta message of all this that I am getting is "of course he's bad he's interested in science."  Another case of the mad scientist stereotype at work.  


Fact: virtually no new medicine or surgery will come to the American public any time soon unless it has first made the rounds of animal laboratories. Every piece of medical news you read is but a few steps removed from animal studies.  And yet, despite their central role in medical progress, despite the efforts of animal rights advocates to shine a light on these animals, their role remains mostly unknown, unremarked, unthanked.   


The "unusual", "eccentric", extraordinary Heene family.  It seems clear to me that these people have been through 24 hours of hell thanks to the cynical media.  Watching them on TV I ask myself, how would one raise children who you would be interested in science?  I think of my own family, and the families of many other scientist I have known, and heard of.  For the record I don't think this was a hoax, at worst this was a practical joke cooked up by those kids, more likely this was just a great deal of confusion.  (I still don't know who would rescue someone from a runaway balloon.  I guess if that happens your just screwed.)  
I'm inclined to agree with this:

The problem the country faces is that the conditions in which Charles Kao, Willard Boyle, and George Smith made their breakthroughs are harder to come by today. Kao, for example, made his breakthroughs in fiber optics (the thin glass threads that now carry a vast chunk of the world’s phone and data traffic) while at Standard Telecommunications Laboratories in the U.K. Similarly, Boyle and Smith designed the first digital imaging technology while working at Bell Labs, the legendary research organization that was once part of AT&T. 

What was so special in these corporate labs of the 1960s? 
When Republicans were told, as part of a recent study, that diabetes results from social factors that mitigate personal responsibility, like a lack of neighborhood grocery stores or government-funded places to exercise, they were not inclined to want to enact legislation to rectify that - but Democrats reacted better to a government approach when culture was to blame rather than individuals.

Both were equally supportive when diabetes was presented in terms of genetic factors.

Was the lesson that framing is bad and science is good?  Well, no, though personally I am inclined to think that way.
One of the best books on evolution to come out in this year of Darwin celebrations, Sean Carroll's Remarkable Creatures, is a National Book Award finalist.
It seems simple enough to answer the question whether something poses a risk or not.  The answers can only be "yes", "no", or "we don't know".  A "yes" response would then be qualified by the probability or likelihood of risk entailed, as well as the context in which it exists.  A "no" should be definitive and not have any exceptions, while a "we don't know" is ambiguous enough to suggest that there is no definite answer, as yet.

A recent article on the risks of cell phones illustrates one of the reasons why the public tends to be distrustful of many of these findings.  It is clear that games are being played and agendas being driven.
Have you ever known--I mean, been absolutely certain--that you were going to die?

That's how seaQuest's Lt. Krieg felt, when a sea monster grabbed his submersible and gave it a good shaking. He survived, and made it back to the main ship, where no one believes him about the monster but everyone is interested in the shiny rocks he found while he was out.

It often falls to the management scientist to evaluate how well a program (in the private, non-profit, or government sector) is performing.  There is a great number of ways to go about this task.  This article discusses some of the ways to evaluate a program.  

Different analysis techniques can be applied to the evaluation task, and as we shall see, the chosen technique is quite important. I don’t address the details of technique in this article  My emphasis today is on the variety of evaluation philosophies (principles).  

Mark your calendars! A Japanese broadcaster is joining forces with the Science Channel and renowned giant squid biologist Tsunemi Kubodera (the guy who went fishing with a long string and a bag of shrimp) on an "international quest to find and film a living giant squid." (Again.)