Science & Society

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.


Women are more likely than men to have a bachelor's degree and a white-collar job. They are also more likely to earn less than male counterparts, finds a new study spanning two generations in the United States.

The scholars analyzed U.S. Census socioeconomic data of more than 180,000 people at two points in time. The study looked at Latino and Asian immigrants in 1980 and then at their children's generation 25 years later (in 2005), as well as non-Hispanic whites whose parents were not immigrants.

In 1980, men led women by a significant margin in bachelor's-degree attainment, white-collar jobs and earnings, the study found. This held true for all three groups: Asians, Latinos and whites.


Could Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina find agreement on one of the most contentious issues dividing America's two political parties today -- climate change? Is it possible they could move past the debate about who or what causes climate change and focus on how modern technology can protect the environment and improve the lives of millions around the globe?
A storm has been brewing, over why in Britain women are more opposed to fracking than men.  Whether it is simply a storm in a teacup, or a mighty tornado, time will tell.  Here are three articles in succession, two from the Telegraph:

Women ‘don’t understand’ fracking, leading scientist claims

Averil Macdonald, chairwoman of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, says women lack scientific understanding so follow their ‘gut instinct’.
A representative survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults finds that 30 percent of Americans say their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, while 68 percent say there is no conflict. A majority(59 percent) say science and religion often conflict, while 38 percent say science and religion are mostly compatible. 

Belief of a conflict between science and religion does break along lines of religious belief - but not how most people think. The most religious people do not see a conflict with science, it is instead people on the other side who think the most religious people must be against science - that science and religion are in opposition - that increase belief in a conflict between them.
If you are in Manhattan or one of the five boroughs or New Jersey or Long Island and want a free beer and to talk about science communication, you are invited to join me as guest of honor at the Science On Tap event, October 28th from 6:30-9:30 PM. 

The location is Connolly's Pub&Restaurant at 121 West 45th Street.
The sci-fi comedy "Back To The Future" is a seminal piece of modern cinema. Like "Blade Runner" (and unlike most movies of any kind, much less science fiction, where special effects are important) from the same period, it holds up really well.