Science & Society

Starting in July of 2012, smart people called the election of November for President Barack Obama, barring some nasty "October Surprise." Instead, the October Surprise was for the challenger, Mitt Romney. A hurricane hit the eastern coast of the US and by the time it reached the American media center of New York City, it was no longer a hurricane so they created a new category, a "superstorm" and proceeded to blame it on global warming.


In a letter to the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of nutritionists object to all of the studies finding supplements are well-marketed but unnecessary costs for most Americans.  

Their rebuttal: they don't harm anyone, they are relatively cheap and science can't prove they don't work. 

Hardly a great endorsement, but the nutritionists from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and three other institutions can't really argue for the benefits of supplements, so they instead argue that the case is not 'closed', as an editorial in the same publication last year argued. 


Cosmos, hosted by Science 2.0 fave Dr. Neil Tyson, is wrapping up and it seems to have found its niche.

Its 3,450,000 viewers yesterday is way down from its debut but it is nowhere near the crash-and-burn Seth MacFarlane has just experienced with A Million Ways to Die in the West. The good news is that, like with his western comedy, Cosmos did not have a high budget and people who stuck it out this long are going to buy the DVDs - but it has already made a lot of money.
A recent analysis of voting trends of physicians has found that political contributions have gone up a lot and more of them have become Democrats; no surprise given Democratic efforts to increase federal presence in medicine.

The percentage of physicians making campaign contributions in federal elections increased to 9.4 percent in 2012 from 2.6 percent in 1991, and during that time physician contributors shifted away from Republicans toward Democrats. That trend was greater among lower paying specialties, such as pediatrics, and among women. 

If you want to survive your hospital stay, try to avoid being admitted on the weekend. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis
of various world regions that included 72 studies and 55,053,719 participants found that weekend admission was associated with increased morality of between 15% and 17% depending on the statistical technique used. 

It must be due to higher emergency status if it is the weekend, right? Some, but the authors say the quality of care is just poorer also, which is not going to make nurses and doctors who work weekends very happy.


To advertisers, there is only one knock on the Science 2.0 audience; there are too many women.

Before we complain about the sexism of advertisers, we have to take the issue on its merits. When we think of technological innovation, we think of men. Is it because it's always been men due to a legacy culture or are men actually more innovative? Fashion designers don't advertise here because science is not their audience and technology companies don't advertise here because women are not their audience, yet we know women adopt technology. 

In 1994, Congress passed 42 U.S.C. Section 14141 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, granting the U.S. attorney general the power to initiate structural reform litigation against local police departments engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional behavior.

It made few headlines but it has been credited as the basis for the Department of Justice to forcefully reform numerous large police departments across the country – including Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Generally, local law enforcement doesn't like federal interference and the federal government doesn't want to try and manage 18,000 police departments, no matter how many laws Congress passes saying it should.


The American Geosciences Institute's newest Status of the Geoscience Workforce Report, released May 2014, has good news: jobs requiring training in the geosciences continue to be lucrative and in-demand.

Even with STEM outreach campaigns causing the number of graduates in most fields to overwhelm academic jobs by a ratio of 6:1, geosciences project a shortage of around 135,000 geoscientists needed in the workforce by the end of the decade. Obviously that is not academia, but you won't have to be 40 years old before you make a decent living in the private sector.


Many people, regardless of occupation, have experienced a difficult boss or annoying co-workers. It might even be harassment or bullying.

It's still better than being ignored, according to a paper in Organization Science. University of British Columbia scholars contend that while most consider ostracism less harmful than bullying, feeling excluded is significantly more likely to lead job dissatisfaction, quitting and health problems.

"We've been taught that ignoring someone is socially preferable--if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all," says Professor Sandra Robinson, who co-authored the paper. "But ostracism actually leads people to feel more helpless, like they're not worthy of any attention at all."