Science & Society

Sometimes it's just public relations. We subsidize nicotine patches but regulators are increasingly interested in banning electronic cigarettes.

Such misguided legislation, not backed by sound data, may have consequences for public health, experts say. With smoking blamed for up to six million premature deaths each year, a lot is at stake in the newest push for regulations.


Almost one-third of US adolescents consume high-caffeine energy drinks and the teens who do also report higher rates of alcohol, cigarette, or drug use, according to a paper in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

The same characteristics that attract young people to consume energy drinks—such as being "sensation-seeking or risk-oriented" — may make them more likely to use other substances as well, suggests the new paper by Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath, MSA, and colleagues of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 


Estimates say there are over 3,000,000 registered freelancers worldwide, competing for everything from computer programming and web design to finance and engineering.

How can you make yourself more attractive to potential employers?  


British people traveling abroad for medical treatment are often unaware of the potential health and financial consequences they could face - with sometimes catastrophic effects for individual patients.

More than 63,000 UK residents travel abroad for medical treatment each year but many are embarking on medical tourism without doing research about the risks involved. These include a lack of redress in many countries should things go wrong, and the costs of non-emergency care at home to rectify poor outcomes of treatments received overseas. Since the UK has government-controlled health care, individuals are personally liable for those costs.


Agriculture in Finland is becoming more market driven.

What will that mean? Fluctuation in prices, more so than with current EU and Finland subsidies and quotas, but better efficiency. Competition will mean fewer farms.  The reason for the changes is because profitability continues to be poor despite strong spending by the government. The return on investment for taxpayer spending has been negative on average for the last 10 years. In 2011 in Finland, it was the third weakest in the EU, at -1.1 per cent.  The brunt of that inefficiency is small farms kept going only because of subsidies. Half of the farms in Finland produce only 5 percent of the food.

Airline-related complaints made to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from 2002 to 2012  reveal that passengers were less likely to make a formal complaint about service quality if they were on a long-established "network" carrier.

Passengers of low-cost upstarts tended to complain less, even though the quality of service may have been just as poor.


Can a big name lead to a boost, even for low-profile work?

Indeed it can, according to an analysis which found that scientific papers written by well-known scholars get more attention than they otherwise would receive because of their authors’ high profiles - but there are some subtle twists in how this happens.

If you ever watched/read the advocacy cartoon/book/Darwinian morality play "FernGully: The Last Rainforest" you might think that ruining the rainforests is a modern phenomenon brought on by McDonald's hamburgers or guitar makers or whoever and ancient man lived in harmony with nature.

It's a great mythology but just that - nature does not live in harmony with anything. Since almost the moment the last Ice Age ended, prehistoric man has kept fighting nature, including rainforests in Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam, which had been termed 'untouched by humans.'


A new analysis has affirmed what many in the science audience already knew; mainstream media prefer weak observational studies. It's why you're reading this article here instead of the New York Times.

And that is not just in regards to social psychology correlations made using surveys of college students or sociology mysticism, it happens in medical coverage too. The examination found that observational studies get far better coverage than actual randomized controlled trials, which are what should really be important to most people.
The user(s) behind the G+ account Singularity 2045 made an appropriately skeptical post today about the latest Machines-versus-Humans "prediction," specifically an article "What Happens When Artificial Intelligence Turns On Us" about a new book by James Barrat.