Science & Society

A study of risk communication as it relates to altruistic behavior has found that portraying an event as a distant risk, despite highlighting its importance and potential progression, fails to prompt altruistic behavior intention among the U.S. public.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa gained substantial media momentum during the final three months of 2014. In October, a Liberian man visiting family in Texas became the first diagnosed Ebola patient in the U.S. to die from the disease. But though mainstream media hyped it beyond belief, the Obama administration offered minimal assistance to the affected region, at least compared to American responses to other recent crises or disasters, such as the Haitian earthquake in 2010.


Citizen science, amateurs who did science for the love of it rather than as a career, were once well-respected. They were often more elite than those who did it as an occupation, much like Sherlock Holmes was a superior detective because he was an amateur in a world where police forces were blue collar and lacked education. 


Amid the many calls for scientists to engage with the general public, there are some who feel that scientists ought to remain aloof and disconnected from the broader public.

They believe academics shouldn’t even attempt to communicate their research to common folk. And many scientists oblige them, by writing in a turgid manner that is highly effective at keeping the public (and their peers) at bay.

So, here are a few of the tricks that scientists use to produce such turgid science writing. These methods restrict science to the smallest and most specialist audience possible.

Google this: conservative vs liberal brain and you'll find 546,000 hits. Only a minority of these hits will link to well presented, bias free science.

The first hit leads to bullets with references you can track down yourself such as:

In America it seems that Democrats are gaining ground and that therefore the culture is moving to the left. It's actually much different, Democrats have actually moved to the right. President Obama came into office campaigning against two wars but will leave office with three. He never closed Guantanamo Bay and even his lifting of "the ban" on human embryonic stem cell research was just a slight modification of the NIH funding policy under President George W. Bush.


In the 1990s, and more recently during the Obama administration, there has been a wave of protectionism about United States technology and science jobs, with calls to cut visas for foreign-born workers.

It's a modern demonization of Asiatics, minus the buck teeth caricatures. In reality, it is forbidden by law to pay substantially less to someone because they are not a citizen, so foreign scientists and engineers were not undercutting Americans. In the Clinton era, this protectionism directly led to the exportation of jobs overseas - but student visas never slowed down, so we trained foreign students in the best schools in the world and then forced them to go back home to compete with America instead of becoming Americans.


While dating in the workplace is not inherently bad and cannot be effectively forbidden there are certain rules that go with that.  Don’t date subordinates, if you do find them a new supervisor, if you end it don’t also end their employment/threaten their career.  Christian Ott violated all three of these basic rules in how he treated Io Kleiser his student.   The old case of Timothy Slater is more troubling in what happened, reassuring in what was done about him, but should trouble any who believe in due process and redemption for what is happening now.  

In 2009, there was concern that American health care costs were too high. Since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, there is now concern that costs are really too high, only it is not rich doctors and insurance companies being vilified, it is defensive medicine and doctors being willing to sign off on unnecessary things to keep patients happy which, along with lawsuits, was the problem the whole time.

A study in the American Journal of Managed Care finds that more than half of primary care providers reported that they made what they considered unnecessary referrals to a specialist because patients wanted it and many physicians gave into patient requests for brand-name drugs when cheaper generics were available.


The biomedical sciences rarely provide full protocol, data, and necessary level of transparency to verify or replicate studies, according to an analysis of papers published between 2000 and 2014 to determine the extent researchers report key information necessary for properly evaluating and replicating published research, including availability of protocols, data, and the frequency of published novel or replication studies.

The results: 1 out of 441 articles drawn from across the biomedical literature provided a full protocol and no paper made all the data available. The majority of studies didn't state funding or conflicts of interest and replication studies were very rare.


People tend to gain in self-esteem as they grow older but in Western industrialized  nations the self-esteem gender gap is more pronounced - though the actual gender gap in all ways is lower in those same nations. At least on surveys.

Social psychologists analyzed survey data from over 985,000 men and women ages 16-45 from 48 countries. The data were collected from July 1999 to December 2009 as part of the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project. The researchers compared self-reported self-esteem, gender and age across the 48 nations in their study.