Science & Society

In the course of a few months, my wife and I went from being worried about whether my son would be educated enough to survive in a world increasingly being taken over by cognitive technologies to worrying if he'd end up in the streets. A wave of anxiety crushed him to the point that some MDs started telling us that he might need to be institutionalized. It was a crazy fast decline for a sweet, logical, highly verbal boy who always excelled at math and soccer, if not English and history. What the hell could precipitate such terrible change? 

Scholars are making a bold claim about gun deaths - they say they will be reduced by 80 percent if three laws are enacted. In a study published in The Lancet, state-level data from 2010 on gun-related deaths and 25 state-specific gun laws identified three laws that were most strongly associated with reductions in overall gun-related mortality.

Last April, Kraft Heinz announced it would remove artificial flavors, preservatives and dyes from its iconic Blue Box, and did exactly that in December.
Kraft Mac&Cheese replaced artificial dyes (yellow 5 and 6) with paprika, annatto and turmeric to maintain its signature color. This change has been listed in the ingredient line for the past few months. There are also no artificial flavors or preservatives in the new recipe.

The decline in the fluidity, or dynamism, of the U.S. labor market has been occurring along a number of dimensions, including the rate of job-to-job transition, hires and separations, and geographic movement across labor markets, since at least the 1980s, according to a new paper to be presented next week at the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity.

Less fluidity in the labor market leads to fewer opportunities for workers to renegotiate their current position or change jobs and thus may have important implications for the macro economy in general, including on productivity.

Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives by John C. HullThe derivatives market is staggering, often estimated at more that $1.2 quadrillion dollars.

An analysis of more than 14 million reviews on, a site where students write anonymous reviews of their professors, found that words like "brilliant" and "genius" are most often used to describe male professors, and in academic disciplines in which there are fewer women and African-Americans.

The findings are reported in PLOS ONE, a pay-to-publish journal which has been criticized recently for a lack of peer review and, ironically, being biased against female authors.

Many people including Stephen Hawkings and Elon Musk are worried about the possibility of an artificial program that might become intelligent and take over the world. The idea is that at some point in the future we may be able to develop artificial intelligences through programming that are equal in intelligence to humans but capable of living much faster, and able to rewrite their own programs to become even more intelligent.

A decade ago, the media perception was that the only "advocacy" research (science-y sounding stuff out to achieve a cultural goal) was small groups getting a little bit of money to deny things like global warming. In reality, the public knew better, and that scientization of politics had been going on ever since government started to take over science funding.

In the 21st century, it seems to be settled that quotas are a bad idea. By picking people based on a characteristic outside their ability to best do a job, it seems to be another term for discrimination. 

Some countries have done it anyway. Mexico, for example, passed quotas to create equal gender representation in government but a new social studies paper concludes that the quality of female candidates did not go down, nor did women rely on personal connections more than men to get elected.

Less than 40% of the results of clinical trials conducted at leading academic medical centers were shared within two years of completion, finds a study in the British Medical Journal.