Science & Society

“Here’s my bet: the kids are going to win and when they do, it’s going to matter,” prophesized environmentalist Bill McKibben about fossil fuel divestment in 2013.

If so, they are going to be led by Quakers, who were among the first to officially say no to fossil fuel stocks. Though Quakers were considered anarchists in the Old World, in America they banned slave ownership way before government did and created Pennsylvania as a commonwealth without social elites, established churches, tithes, high taxes or compulsory military service. Are they thought leaders once again?

Cultural pressures to avoid anything controversial and the need to show a positive result to get the next grant have led scientists to avoid risk-taking and choose inefficient research strategies, two new University of Chicago papers conclude.

The latest Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa also took its toll socially on one of the fastest growing populations in the United States - African immigrants.

Guy-Lucien Whembolua, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of Africana studies, reviewed reports in mainstream U.S. media related to African immigrants and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The search turned up 21 news articles that matched the criteria for the study - articles focusing on African immigrants in the U.S. and the Ebola virus.

Organic food has managed to wrap itself in both a health and ethical halo and a lot of the credit for that has to go to outstanding marketing and the work of trade groups that represent organic farmers. They have turned what was once a niche market focused on a different process into a $100 billion juggernaut where mothers chide other mothers as bad parents if they don't buy organic.

That will be taught in business classes for decades.

A new survey reveals that couples enjoyed more frequent and satisfying sex for both partners when men made a fair contribution to housework. The same paper also says there's no relationship between the amount of housework male partners completed and the sexual functioning of a couple.

38 percent of state public health workers plan to leave the public health workforce by 2020 but it isn't just retirement, they want to get out of a health care system that is even more micromanaged and financially motivated that when HMOs and insurance companies were the big problem - government control. 

The article in Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (JPHMP) is based on the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), the largest-ever study of the public health workforce.  

This year to celebrate Halloween, Digital Science have compiled their top five spooky scientific research papers.

Citations are a time-honored measure now used to assess scholarly standing and evaluate academic productivity by funding committees that control government research.

For that reason, citations that are critical in nature, and point out limitations, inconsistencies or flaws in previous work, can be detrimental. A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that negative citations were more likely to criticize highly-read papers, they tended to originate from scholars who were close to the authors of the original articles in academic discipline and social distance - but at least 150 miles away geographically. 

It's no secret that cigarettes and heavy drinking are linked, people who engage in risky behaviors tend to do so in multiple ways, but a link to e-cigarettes, which have no tobacco, is new. A paper in Addictive Behaviors also found that more women than men use e-cigarettes socially, like when drinking, opposite to patterns seen in regular cigarette smoking.

Only 2 percent of Internet pages with information on firearm storage correctly identified all four practices that encompass safe gun storage.

In frontier days, gun safety was a given but in the modern era most kids don't grow up around guns - and movies contain a lot of gun violence without any real exposure to the consequences so children unfamiliar with firearms may regard them as toys or not realize that are loaded.