Science & Society

AgBiotechAn editorial in the Wall Street Journal summarizes the European Union’s decades-long flight from science, common sense and consistency. These un- or even anti-science positions are driven by many idées fixes, baseless myths and superstitions, promulgated by “consumer groups” and by deep green “environmentalists,” who claim to be concerned about Mother Earth. 

A scientist named Kevin Folta at the University of Florida has been one of a broader group of public researchers who have come under hostile, Freedom Of Information Act scrutiny with the goal of demonstrating “ties to industry.” 

Why do unmarried women tend to be more liberal and Democratic than their married counterparts? A key reason is because unmarried women -- those who have never been married and those who are divorced -- are more concerned about the status of women as a collective group according to survey results presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. 

Science – or strange permutations of it at least – is everywhere in the cinema. At any one time on movie screens around the world, humans are being threatened by lethal viruses, cured from terminal illness by miracle elixirs, rendered superhuman with bionic limbs or made obsolete by robots possessing artificial intelligence.

But what are the facts behind these entertaining fictions? And how best to dispel the myths and misconceptions perpetuated by blockbuster films while also enlightening audiences on the real marvels of biotechnology?

When members of the U.S. military leave the service, they tend to settle in neighborhoods with greater overall diversity than their civilian counterparts of the same race, according to a new study that will be presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

"It's encouraging that having served in the military appears to have a long-term impact on how people choose their neighborhoods," said study co-author Mary J. Fischer, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. "According to the social contact hypothesis, racial attitudes are improved and stereotypes are broken when diverse groups come together under circumstances that promote meaningful cross-group interaction, such as in the military."

Women are playing an increasing role in science today but there are still barriers that can prevent them from achieving success comparable to their male colleagues.

This feeds the argument that there is a gender pay gap in earnings in science, although that doesn’t tell the full story of the challenges facing women scientists.

The Institute of Public Affairs senior researcher Mikayla Novak took the opportunity on International Women’s Day to exhort us to “avoid sensationalist, but misleading average pay gap statistics”, and instead focus on individual choices.

She argued that:

Not many people would know the peculiar vocabulary used to evaluate scientists.

H index’, ‘impact factor’ and ‘citation number’ are some of the snazzy phrases that are now ubiquitous in the world of science. Not all scientific papers are born equal - some are ground-breaking, while most are an incremental advance – and these scales have been developed to help determine the ‘impact’ of the scientific articles that are published.

 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of a group of preventable, lifelong conditions (the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) that may result from high alcohol use in pregnancy. It can cause low IQ, delays in development and problems with learning, academic achievement, behavior, motor function, speech and language and memory.

It is also characterized by abnormal facial features and poor growth, before or after birth. 

One in eight children born in 2002 or 2003 and living in remote Fitzroy Valley communities in Western Australia have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, finds the The Lililwan study published today in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

My husband is used to hearing snark about being a lobbyist. As the owner of a lobbying firm in Chicago, he takes most derogatory comments about his profession in stride. So imagine my surprise when he became outraged reading aloud a boilerplate description of Washington lobbyists in our daughter’s new high school textbook:

In reality, many lobbyists in Washington are ‘fixers’ who offer to influence government policies for a price. Their personal connections help to open doors to allow their paying clients to ‘just get a chance to talk’ with top officials.

There was more to get his Irish up:

The world’s governments are preparing to finalize the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in September 2015. It is set to be a major international event, and the goals will be ushered in with tremendous fanfare; they are widely regarded as a historic step toward building a better world, and toward eradicating poverty and hunger from the face of the Earth once and for all.