Science & Society

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.


Knowing your DNA will is not a panacea. Credit: PA/Harvard University

By Walter Gilbert, Harvard University

Walter Gilbert won the Nobel Prize in 1980 in Chemistry for his contribution to sequence DNA, or “determination of base sequences in a nucleic acid”. Mohit Kumar Jolly, researcher at Rice University and contributor to The Conversation, interviewed him at the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting.

There is a downside to 'follow the money' arguments made by academics against scientists in pharmaceutical and oil companies - it comes back to haunt them also.

A paper in PNAS finds that Americans seem wary of researchers because they get grant funding and do not trust scientists pushing political and cultural agendas. The public prefers at least the pretense of impartiality from scientists who are paid by taxpayers. And it wouldn't hurt if scientists came off less angry and a little "warmer" when they engage in outreach, according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


What causes segregation? No one knows. No one even knows where the line is. For example, in science classes, there is worry that if there are not enough people 'like' an individual, they will feel intimidated and excluded. But when there are lots of people like an individual, they tend to self-segregate into groups based on gender and ethnicity.

On the city-wide level, environmentalists advocate very dense housing because it has lower strain on the land, but a new study in PNAS finds that dense cities lead to more segregation, even in previously integrated neighborhoods. Racially and economically mixed cities are more likely to stay integrated if the density of households stays low.



Sarkeesian has been the focus of much online hatred since she started her website Feminist Frequency in 2009. Credit: Anita Sarkeesian

By Jessamy Gleeson, Swinburne University of Technology

Three weeks ago, well-known feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her San Francisco home due to an ongoing tirade of abuse and threats. Members of a vocal minority of online trolls had threatened to kill her parents, drink her blood, and rape her – all while publishing her personal details online.


Does this count as homework? Credit: Rob Boudon, CC BY

By Mark Banks, University of Leicester


Lord Toast. Credit: Catarina Mota, CC BY-NC-SA

By Akshat Rathi, The Conversation and Flora Lisica, The Conversation

The 24th Ig Nobel prizes were announced on September 18th. The prizes annually award scientific research that “first makes people laugh and then makes them think."