Science & Society

I have long told my more progressive brethren who have been happy about overarching judicial decisions they happened to like that activism is a double-edged sword.   Certainly it's reasonable to 'cross that bridge' when society gets to it, but until then the repercussions are substantial.

In the instance of an injunction on embryonic stem cell research being upheld, it's not evil Republicans sticking it to stem cell research, though I have long contended they never did by simply restricting the human embryonic stem cell kind anyway - that law was signed by Clinton.  Instead, it is a court and we have 50 solid years of aggressive judicial good works that has gone well beyond interpreting the Constitution, making it the most powerful branch of government.
The Washington Post reports on massive cuts across the world of European science.  The impact on young scientist will be devastating as their research is placed on hold.  All 12 accelerators at CERN will be mothballed for at least a year.  The European Space Agency will face deep budget cuts as well.



The people who will not be deeply effected by this are the tenured professors.  One year off will just be a year with pay for them.   The people I worry about, the people who will be most effected by this, their graduate students. 
I just learned about this today so I am passing the info along.   Why mention it?  One of the riders is Pete Schleider, who is the lead outside investor in Science 2.0.  He's a modest, compassionate guy who obviously cares about society and only mentioned it in an email this morning, but this is a terrific cause so I am passing the info along, with details on how to donate/sponsor if you are inclined.

Ride the Divide for Wounded Warriors is an event for the charity Healing American Heroes, which is devoted to helping those that were wounded serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  100% of the money these gents are raising is for charity.

The publishers of Make: Magazine have announced that September 2010 is officially "Citizen Science" month. They are looking for citizen scientists to submit their projects, research, and activities to be featured in the magazine.

It also seems that they are interested in developing active collaborations with people who are investing much time in the advancement of citizen science, and they hope to use this outreach to develop exciting new content for their "how-to" project division, Make: Projects.

Recent estimates are that 7-11% of published research is 'open access', a term used to distinguish content that is open to other researchers and the public (free of charge to read) from research available only to subscribers of journals (called 'toll access' by open access advocates) and readers in libraries.
While the public has a great respect for scientists, they don't trust scientists, at least when it comes to issues that also overlap with politics, like the environment.

When it comes to policy-related topics, scientists have a limited effect on the public, perhaps not because people are stupid but because some in science have moved away from being trusted guides and into being advocates, which damages the credibility of science overall.   And once those beliefs are locked in, they are difficult to change.

So while oil drilling is safe, scientists who say so now will go unheard because some in science have gone out of their way to say it isn't due to a cultural agenda.  
The InterAcademy Council Board, composed of presidents of 15 academies of science and equivalent organizations(1) representing Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, pulled no punches in assessing the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) performance during the latter part of the decade.

Despite overwhelming evidence for climate change, the IPCC issued “substantive findings” based on little proof and needs to rework its process, the independent review said.   The UN had requested the IAC review.   

That's a long way down from the heady days of a 2007 Nobel Peace prize for the IPCC.   
Politics is funny business because there will always be a conflict between freedom, democracy and the Constitution and political winds blow decisions in various directions - that's the way it was written and part of why it works.   Given the power of the courts to determine which part wins there will also be competition between the three branches of the federal government and it's a reason why various sides of the political spectrum should hope for balance rather than stacking the court with like-minded judges.   If it becomes okay to stack the court your way it will be okay to stack the court against you too.
Hank recently wrote a piece that dealt with the problem of a "ghost train" and a "ghost hunter" that was killed by a real train while waiting for the apparition.

Since these were amateur ghost hunters, it would be a bit much to presume that there was any actual scientific query going on, but nevertheless there seems to be a persistence of belief that ghosts are the subject of active research.  However, the question to ask is whether there's any scientific basis for thinking there's something to investigate.
The Wall Street Journal took the Marc Hauser controversy (barely noticed here, because it's evolutionary psychology, which is sort of apodictically evident as bad science so we didn't react to it) and used his suspect data on monkey cognition to slap progressives.