Science & Society

Economists and Obama often wonder why the Stimulus didn't work.  Libertarians and the GOP think they know the answer, though they suffer from intellectual Fundamentalism of the same sort all zealots display, the need for absolute certainty -- a need which creates a bias in the processing of all information that has led to the Birther's ridiculous position, and the general political bankruptcy of the Right, which has resulted in candidates such as Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump.  The truth is, neither group actually has any experience with the stimulus.

It's a natural proclivity to play the what-if game. What if we could go back and change things? What if we could alter some particular trait about ourselves or an event? Would we do it? It's a favorite plot device in fiction. In the disability community, especially in the autism community, it takes on a whole new edge. Instead of posing these what ifs about ourselves, many parents engage in the what if question about autism: what if there were a magic pill that would remove all the negatives our children face? Would we give it? Just as many of us would not change our past experiences, recognizing that who are today is fundamentally built upon the experiences of the past, so too do many autistic adults who have incorporate autism into their personalities as a core feature of who they are.
Here, I present for you a snippet from the Western Electric document Introduction to Project Mercury and Site Handbook on one of the most important aspects of a space program that barely existed; ground control and monitoring.   You know, the part where they actually know what the astronaut and his capsule are doing and decide whether or to send him into space and bring him back down, a wholly unnatural act.

a.  Direct the entire flight in respect to the mission;
b.  Monitor the flight in respect to aeromedical and capsule systems;
c.  Keep the astronaut and range stations informed of mission progress;
In yesterday’s article on Science 2.0, Oh, Health Ranger...You Make Me Ill, said person was taken to task for saying:
"The use of GMOs is the closest thing to 'Satanic' that you'll find in modern agriculture. The agenda behind this is pure evil."
This attitude is, alas, all too widespread, as evidenced by the following in today’s Daily Telegraph:

GM soy: The invisible ingredient 'poisoning' children

DUIVEN, Netherlands, May 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The fourth batch of generic EU health claim opinions delivered by the European Food Safety Authority [EFSA] in April saw the previous trend of negative opinions continue: 20% successful, 80% unsuccessful. Companies that have upheld health claims have been quick to promote this through marketing use of words like "proven" and "scientific support."

This trend comes as manufacturers opt for softer or passive claims [e.g. "low and light"], as claims uncertainty continues.

All media, bloggers and so on, do take note! Do not disregard the following, only in rather rational societies completely inconsequential bit of news: After being sought for a decade, one religious old bigot that was involved somehow somewhere in the history of justifying several wars or something, has apparently died. No, the name is not “Bush”; the name is “Osama Bin Laden”.

John Hunter had a gift for dissection. As a child he was an unexceptional student. At age 20, he journeyed to London in the midst of Britain's rise as a scientific power to assist at his brother's anatomy school. There he displayed a gift for finely dismantling the human body into its discrete parts.

Hunter went on to become a surgeon, at the time a vocation that put him on the same social footing as shoemakers or metal smiths. With little modern medical knowledge to guide them through the inner workings of their patients, surgeons were tradesmen. Hunter changed that.
A few Science 2.0 readers may recall that I tried out some ideas for a book here in 2009, and the immediate feedback was encouraging and helpful. The book is called First Life and is about to be published by UCPress. (One of my colleagues mentioned that advance copies are already available from I thought it might be interesting to say a bit more about how a book can emerge from the chaos of daily life, and how the effort has affected what I am doing now.
The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals has overturned an August 2010 limitation on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.  Since 2001, federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research had been limited to existing lines.  Private and state funding of hESC research was unimpeded and funding was allowed for lines that had already been created prior to 2001.   In 2009, Pres. Obama issued a memorandum lifting restrictions while cautioning that policies would have to be in place to prevent use in cloning and other unethical scenarios.
"A podcaster, an editor, a policy wonk and a NASA engineer walk into a bar..."  At the DCSWA workshop, regional media talents attempted to answer the unanswerable: what is the future of science writing and science journalism?

Deborah Ager (of Bolt and also ClickWisdom), noted, without irony, that "in 2011, everyone is a newspaper (or thinks they are)".