Science & Society

I'm assuming most of you here have not followed the ongoing board war between ex-Scienceblogs and current Discover bloggers Chris Mooney/Sheril Kirshenbaum and current Sciencblogs tour de force PZ Myers.

To save you all that time it would take to read it, I encapsulated the first two salvos in Chris Mooney Versus P.Z. Myers And The State Of "Unscientific America" but now I'll just include my thoughts on the latest installments.  I got no dog in this fight but it's the kind of train wreck I can't look away from.
This almost makes up for cursing the world with Windows Vista: "Gates Puts Feynman Lectures Online
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates believes that if he had been able to watch physicist Richard Feynman lecture on physics in 1964 his life might have played out differently... Mr. Gates, who is also well known for his sharp and varied intellectual interests and his philanthropic commitment to education, said this week that he had purchased the rights to videos of seven lectures that Dr. Feynman gave at Cornell University called “The Character of Physical Law,” in an effort to make them broadly available via the Internet.
A page of interesting thoughts and great quotes on visual thinking in science:


[Feynman]: The next great era of awakening of human intellect may well produce a method of understanding the qualitative content of equations. Today we cannot. Today we cannot see that the water flow equations contain such things as the barber pole structure of turbulence that one sees between rotating cylinders. Today we cannot see whether Schroedinger's equation contains frogs, musical composers, or morality - or whether it does not. We cannot say whether something beyond it like God is needed, or not. And so we can all hold strong opinions either way.

In the past several months I have been intellectually consumed with the
idea of academic blogging and its potential to one day change the face
of academic communication.  I say "one day" because although there are
increasing numbers of academic bloggers, and academic blogging sites
like scientific blogging, only a small number of academics actually
blog. 
I can relate to what Isis is saying

When I first told a more senior colleague what I was up to, he told me, "Isis, I don't care if you are building model trains in your spare time and then blowing them up. Just keep the data coming." That is the metric by which we are judged. But, keeping the data coming can be tedious and sitting to hammer out a grant application, book chapter, or article can feel endless. I can throw out a blog post, by comparison, in a minimal amount of time and feel like i have accomplished something. And I have to you and to me, as long as I don't take my eye off the prize.
University of Denver researchers say that couples who live together before they are engaged have a higher chance of getting divorced than those who wait until they are married to cohabitate.

In addition, couples who lived together before engagement and then married, reported a lower satisfaction in their marriages.   Couples who got engaged and then later moved in together had no conclusive difference one way or another.   The research published in Journal of Family Psychology was conducted by Galena Rhoades, senior researcher, Scott Stanley, research professor, and Howard Markman, professor of psychology.
Here's a short tale about scientific journal editing, to complement my lament about the lack of Editors in Web2.0.  At the risk of being a scientific pariah, I believe some works can be overedited.

After much polishing at my home institute, I submitted a paper for consideration to a scientific journal.  We then went through a quite reasonable set of 3 stages of edits before they declared the paper was accepted for publication.  It then went through one more round of editing by a different editor to match house style.  Then it went to the proofers, for one last round, and I was told it was ready and final.
OK, the lawyer thing is no surprise.  Check out this table from the recent Pew survey on science and the public that's been generating buzz on the blogs:



Savor the irony: in the US we fight bitter court battles over evolution, and yet scientists win out over clergy when it comes to who's got a better reputation with the public.

I'd love to hear from readers who are science journalists. PZ Myers has posted this story from one of his readers who's trying to start a career as a freelance science journalist:
The public looks up to scientists but scientists tend to look down on the public; and science journalism gets a lot of the blame.  So say the findings of a new report by the Pew Research Center for the People&the Press which finds that overwhelming majorities of Americans believe that science has had a positive effect on society and that science has made life easier for most people. The public - even those skeptical of climate change and evolution - rates scientists highly and believes government investments in science pay off in the long term.