Science & Society

Until a week before basketball player LeBron James returned to the NBA team that drafted him as a rookie, the Cleveland Cavaliers, owner Dan Gilbert had a scathing letter on his website criticizing James. Many fans had thrown out his jerseys.

Suddenly, after so much acrimony, James returned him, two championships and four playoff runs to his credit. What happened? Gilbert caught the boomerang. Maybe you should also.

According to two papers dealing with organizational behavior and human resources management, organizations of all types are beginning to recognize and embrace the value of recruiting and welcoming back former employees. The days when 'you are dead to me' was the norm after someone leaves might be gone.


While older people wonder if modern connectivity behavior is leading to a lack of coherent thinking, they tend to forget previous generations worried over that too - because the next to come along couldn't use a slide rule.

A new study has found that, in younger workers, short breaks that include non-work browsing - Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB) - can potentially improve attention to work tasks.

Concentration during workplace tasks is of the upmost importance; however, it declines over time as mental resources are expended, with cited research from the study finding that subjects begin to lose concentration after 5 to 15 minutes before needing a break.

You never see them in calendars, but there are obese firefighters - and they don't get told to lose weight by their doctors.

As we all know, there are many healthy obese people, the notion that BMI is some magic button for diabetic and cardiovascular health has long been debunked. Regardless of their appearance, firefighters are trained to do a job. Can't pass training and you don't get to do the job. Yet firefighters do have high rates of obesity, compared to the nature of the job, and like the general public, heart attacks kill more firefighters than doing their job will.


While almost everyone agrees that the American health system was not perfect - high quality, but some could not afford it - the solution may not have been more government spending, since government was not spending money all that wisely well before 2009. 

Take one data point:  Medicare breast cancer screening. You are not for breast cancer, right? No one is. Yet while breast cancer screening costs for Medicare patients skyrocketed between 2001 and 2009, there was no earlier detection of breast cancer.

There is a subset of academia that contends it lacks diversity. They have a point. While at the undergraduate levels there are lots of handicapped people, minorities, women and even Republicans, by the time grad school is finished there are fewer of all of those and at the tenure levels, not much diversity at all.

Even in medicine, where lots of women in the private sector juggle prosperous careers and families. In its academic counterpart, there aren't many women at all, and that may be costing academia valuable research talent.



Not the JVC peer review ring, an actual
gambling ring. Credit: China Daily

It's something of a mild joke in science circles - you can figure out who is peer-reviewing your paper by looking for the common author in the citations you 'missed' in your submission.

It was only a matter of time before peer review cabals became an actual strategy somewhere.

Doctors cringe at the idea that patients may come in with specific information they got from the Internet; an athlete may do something good and the Wikipedia entry will say they are the greatest American since Abe Lincoln, while the entry for Science 2.0 says it was invented by a Wired writer in 2012.

But Wikipedia is absolutely enlightened compared to the misinformation that goes around on Twitter and Facebook. Every day some new graphic or claim about health and politics is invented and shared without any fact-checking of any kind. 

But people like that. They last thing they want is information gate-keepers from the government. The good outweighs the bad. 


There is a belief that someone decides to try a cigarette, reads a warning label, and then never does. This belief is perpetuated by the industry that has built itself around taxing and penalizing cigarette companies and taking that money to lobby against cigarettes.

It is the perfect business model because it does not work, and so there will always be a market.

Every once in a while, psychologists will do some surveys and provide a paper reaffirming new ways to make sure anti-smoking efforts are always funded but never succeed. In this case, by saying warning labels just need to be bigger.


New York City residents think everything is about New York City. A NYC storm automatically becomes a Super Storm, the population between the Hudson River and the San Francisco Bay bridge are assumed to be mutant church Republican zombies, they even think it's hotter in the city than everywhere else.

On that last part, they may be right. There has long been a belief in the "urban heat island" (UHI) effect, which makes the world's cities warmer than the surrounding countryside. In an analysis of 65 cities across North America, researchers found that variation in how efficiently urban areas release heat back into the lower atmosphere — convection — is the dominant factor in the daytime heat island effect.