Science & Society

Go ahead and admit it, you would have been stumped if the answer wasn't in the title, right?   There isn't much a Democrat President-elect, an old white Republican war veteran and an insane actor could all have in common, but they do, according to the group Sense About Science which seeks to promote scientific accuracy.

It's scientific illiteracy.

Their Celebrities and Science Review 2008 pulls out the choicest bits of non-supported science data and holds them up for all to ridicule.  So let's go to it:

Barack Obama:
Adoption is a great change in the life of a child and the changes are even greater when a new language is included.

According to figures from the adoption associations, around 18 000 children from 30 countries have come to Norway through adoption. Research and experience show that the children do very well and that the children adapt quickly and many overtake other children of the same age in motor function at record speed; but up to a third of the children adopted from abroad are having problems with language proficiency. This has largely gone undetected in kindergartens and schools, says Associate Professor Åse Kari Wagner at the Reading Research Center at the University of Stavanger in Norway. 

Arrive at your In-Law's unprepared at Christmas and you may find yourself sitting in someone else's living room, unable to get to the remote control, and nothing but "The Wizard of Oz" on the TV.  Not that that could be bad (the movie), we're just saying.

A good majority of us end up away from home for at least one night staying with relatives. Like anything in life, Christmas is what you make it. So when packing your overnight bag for the festive season make sure you take enough entertainment of your own.

Here are our top survival tips to make it through Christmas:
1. Pack a book. Michael Parkinson's autobiography at 412 pages should take a couple of days even for the most prolific reader.

The Vatican is recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope and the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy next year, according to the AP story.

And people say the Roman Catholic Church is adverse to change. It just needs 400 years to think about it first.
Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to the Italian astronomer and physicist Sunday, saying he and other scientists had helped the faithful better understand and "contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works."
A "new respect for science" in the Obama administration?

The dissonance is jarring:
Obama says:

I am confident that if we recommit ourselves to discovery, if we support science education to create the next generation of scientists and engineers right here in America; if we have the vision to believe and invest in things unseen, then we can lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity.

And then he passes the megaphone to Rick Warren:
George Bush, he of the horned skull and demonic scowl, mortal enemy of all science, with the funding increases during his tenure being just a clever headfake so he could ruin science for everyone under the age of 30, has done something no one (well, no one who thinks Republicans are all evil and hate science) thought he would do; he gave a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) to Kevin Eggan, PhD, principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
“I discovered a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.” This, infamously, was uttered by former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, who admitted that his view of how economies work was deeply flawed, and yet refused to issue an apology for years of federal intervention (or lack thereof) based on his “flawed” model. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are suffering economic hardship as a result of someone making policy decisions on the basis of a flawed assumption.
Sports drinks containing protein are better at improving athletes' performance. Research published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has shown that drinks containing a mix of carbohydrate and protein are superior to carbohydrate-only drinks in improving cyclists' recovery from exercise.
Laws banning marriage between first cousins are based on outdated assumptions about a high degree of genetic risk for offspring and should be repealed, according to a population genetics expert.

In an opinion article published in the US open-access journal PLoS Biology, University of Otago Department of Zoology Professor Hamish Spencer and Professor Diane Paul, a Research Associate at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, argue that laws against cousin marriage are ill-advised.

"Neither the scientific nor social assumptions behind such legislation stand up to close scrutiny," says Professor Spencer. For example, a 2002 expert review of studies regarding birth defects in offspring of cousins found that the risk was much smaller than generally assumed, he says.
Coturnix at had an interesting post yesterday on part of the reason they (Science Blogs)  do things the way they do them and the way he says more science writers should - shock value and, at the end of it all, maybe a shot at a greater science democracy.