Science & Society

I posted an article critical of microwave ovens and nanotechnology. This adds to many posts critical of science and scientists. Am I another enemy of science? That last post told lay persons not to heat Ramen noodles in the microwave oven. She cannot understand why and neither do I know exactly why. Moreover, since most people are too lazy or busy to look into such petty differences as between still internally dry Ramen noodles and watery potatoes, you could charge me with implying that the general population should not use microwaves at all.
I like Nicholas Wade, and think that his latest NY Times piece on basic research is worth reading. However, I take issue with his overly simplistic characterization of how research works:

Basic research, the attempt to understand the fundamental principles of science, is so risky, in fact, that only the federal government is willing to keep pouring money into it. It is a venture that produces far fewer hits than misses....
"Far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk", writes Bracken Hendricks in the Washington Post.   
Voter turnout was huge in 2008 - some of that was due to advertising; since Sen. Obama did not limit adhere to campaign finance reform rules the way Sen. McCain did, Obama was able to raise and spend more money than Bush and Kerry did in 2004 combined, spending twice as much as his opponent.    But a large part of that was message also, and it led to 64% of eligible voters showing up, the highest turnout since the 1960s.
Holy crap on a cracker. Here's propaganda and bull handed to us on a platter. You can't dress this up, make it pretty, pretend it to be anything other than an assault on reason and reality.
Mercola and Fisher are a nightmare team: fearmongering run rampant. And the scary thing is that over 27,000 folks have viewed the latest post already. Fisher's attached herself to Mercola's large (on the internet) audience. I wonder if it's to see the money roll in? By contrast, my little blog here and this post will be read by maybe 10% of that number.
A good science fair project typically takes less time and is more interesting to do, than a bad one.  Does this make sense?  Do you want to spend extra time having less fun?  As a sequel to last year's "Secrets of a Science Fair Judge", I present to you my suggestions for making your science fair project go faster, be more fun, and still get you a higher grade.

Choose an Interesting Question

Initial Conditions as the Determinate Factor in Russia and China’s Transition Outcome

It is widely acknowledged that China has been vastly more successful than Russia in her transition from a planned socialist economy to a market-based economy.  The literature on the subject focuses on two major themes to explain the explosive growth in the Chinese economy and the precipitous fall in the economies of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). 
Science and technology issues are just too complex, according to results a new survey from North Carolina State University - when it comes to public issues pertaining to science and technology, "talking it out" doesn't seem to work.  

The more people discuss the risks and benefits associated with scientific endeavors, the more entrenched they become in their viewpoint and the less likely they are to see the merit of other viewpoints, says Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at NC State 
College Scholarships gives away 10.000 dollars to support a young blogger still in college. You can surf to their site and vote for the one you think is most deserving, the one who should get supported and may be in need of further support. However, you might as well not vote, because the contest is already “won”. Why? Because she is already having support more than enough: The whole SB front page was set up for days in order to get their large base of sheepish readers to support their own blogger, and do not think SB would encourage readers to first look at the other blogs to build an informed opinion, an out of fashion approach you may associate with the term “science”.
In what will be a puzzle for the segments of society that claim everything is about race and racism, a new study by Harvard and UCLA sociologists shows, that at least among the current generation in college, race is a non-issue in Facebook friendships.

Of course, some Facebook friendships result from the social pressures of being in a polite society - if someone requests to be an online friend, they are likely to get it and the results showed the tendency to reciprocate a friendly overture is seven times stronger than any perceived attraction of a shared racial background.