Science & Society


In third place, Oxford University is the top UK institution in the World University Rankings 2014-15. Image:  Andrew Matthews/PA Archive

By Steven C. Ward, Western Connecticut State University

From the “best beaches” to the “best slice of pizza” to the best hospital to have cardiac surgery in, we are inundated with a seemingly never-ending series of reports ranking everything that can be ranked and even things that probably shouldn’t be.


Oh no – not that mistake again. Credit: Flickr/Alex Proimos, CC BY-NC

By Will J Grant, Australian National University and Rod Lamberts, Australian National University


The need for caution when any anomaly is revealed in new research. Credit: Flickr/Adam Gerard, CC BY-NC-SA

By Michael J. I. Brown, Monash University

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH: What do we actually mean by research and how does it help inform our understanding of things? What if research throws up a result that calls for a new way of thinking? How do we handle that?

Mental illness has been under a lot of criticism in the last few years. The public feels like the psychology field over-medicates people based on subjective symptoms and recent high-profile violent acts all involved people on psychiatric medications.

But there is still recognition that some mental illness is exculpatory and not just bad behavior. That is less so with drug addicts. While addictions are called a disease, and everyone gives lip service to that idea, when it comes to public policy the truth comes out. The public doesn't support insurance, housing, or employment policies that benefit drug addicts, a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health survey finds.



Women ask why there aren't more women in lists of top scientists. Credit: Katrina Cole, CC BY-NC

By Victoria Metcalf, Lincoln University, New Zealand

A steady infiltration of scientists onto Twitter has accompanied the growing recognition that a social media presence is just as important as taking the podium at a conference.


Credit: Flickr/Steve Jurvetson, CC BY

By Kelly E Matthews, The University of Queensland

Research suggests science graduates are struggling with essential quantitative skills and science degree programs are to blame.

Quantitative skills are the bread and butter of science. More than calculating right answers, quantitative skills are defined by applying mathematical and statistical reasoning to scientific and everyday problems.

The government says the unemployment level is back at 2009 levels - but they use a metric that no one outside government would consider valid, namely how many people collect unemployment checks.

After people have been unemployed past the expiration of the checks, the government claims they must be employed. In reality, many are not. The Great Recession limps along regardless of how the 1 % are doing in the stock market and what government public relations claims are.

In reality, 20 percent of workers laid off from a job during the last five years are still unemployed and looking for work, researchers from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers have found.



UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and actor Emma Watson launched the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 20th. Credit: EPA/JASON SZENES

By Evita March, Federation University Australia

In less than a week since actor Emma Watson’s stirring United Nations speech on gender inequality, two big things have happened – but you’ve probably only heard about one of them.

Surveys are interesting and surveys can sometimes indicate what a certain number of people in a group might be thinking - but so can betting services. In the 2012 election, the Intrade betting service got as many states right in the presidential election as Democratic statistical wunderkind Nate Silver did - and Intrade is mostly Europeans who know nothing at all about American politics.



'To be, or not to be' male or female? Maxine Peake plays Hamlet. Credit: Jonathan Keenan/Royal Exchange Theatre

By Mareile Pfannebecker, University of Manchester

The ghost, in this autumn’s Royal Exchange Theatre production of Hamlet, is in the light bulbs. Hung over the stage, they flicker and hum as they mark Old Hamlet’s movements. They also set the scene for the production: this is an indoors, domestic Hamlet, with Fortinbras and the wars cut out to focus on family politics.