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Doing Good Science

Doing Good Science


Building knowledge, training new scientists, sharing a world.
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    Janet D. Stemwedel Janet D. Stemwedel is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at San José State University. Her explorations of ethics, scientific knowledge-building, and how they are intertwined are informed by her misspent scientific youth as a physical chemist. Follow on Twitter @docfreeride.
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  • I’m so glad we’ve had this time together.

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    Today the editors of the Scientific American Blog Network are announcing a new vision for the network, one with increased editorial oversight and more editorial curation of the subjects covered by network bloggers. Part of that shift involves a pruning of blogs from the existing network, including this one. Three and a half years ago, [...]

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    Pennywise and pound-foolish: misidentified cells and competitive pressures in scientific knowledge-building.

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    The overarching project of science is building reliable knowledge about the world, but the way this knowledge-building happens in our world is in the context of competition. For example, scientists compete with each other to be the first to make a new discovery, and they compete with each other for finite pools of grant money [...]

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    Twenty-five years later.

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    Twenty-five years ago today, on December 6, 1989, in Montreal, fourteen women were murdered for being women in what their murderer perceived to be a space that rightly belonged to men: Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
 Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student 
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
 Barbara Daigneault (born [...]

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    James Watson’s sense of entitlement, and misunderstandings of science that need to be countered.

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    James Watson, who shared a Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering the double helix structure of DNA, is in the news, offering his Nobel Prize medal at auction. As reported by the Telegraph: Mr Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for uncovering the double helix structure of DNA, sparked an outcry in 2007 when [...]

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    Giving thanks.

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    This being the season, I’d like to take the opportunity to pause and give thanks. I’m thankful for parents who encouraged my curiosity and never labeled science as something it was inappropriate for me to explore or pursue. I’m thankful for teachers who didn’t present science as if it were confined within the box of [...]

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    Kitchen science: evaluating methods of self-defense against onions.

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    Background I hate chopping onions. They make me cry within seconds, and those tears both hurt and obscure my view of onions, knife, and fingertips (which can lead to additional injuries). The chemical mechanism by which onions cause this agony is well known. Less well known are effective methods to prevent or mitigate this agony [...]

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    A guide for science guys trying to understand the fuss about that shirt.

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    This is a companion to the last post, focused more specifically on the the question of how men in science who don’t really get what the fuss over Rosetta mission Project Scientist Matt Taylor’s shirt was about could get a better understanding of the objections — and of why they might care. (If the story [...]

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    The Rosetta mission #shirtstorm was never just about that shirt.

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    Last week, the European Space Agency’s Spacecraft Rosetta put a washing machine-sized lander named Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Landing anything on a comet is a pretty amazing feat, so plenty of scientists and science-fans were glued to their computers watching for reports of the Rosetta mission’s progress. During the course of the interviews streamed to [...]

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    Mentoring new scientists in the space between how things are and how things ought to be.

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    Scientists mentoring trainees often work very hard to help their trainees grasp what they need to know not only to build new knowledge, but also to succeed in the context of a career landscape where score is kept and scarce resources are distributed on the basis of scorekeeping. Many focus their protégés’ attention on the [...]

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    Ebola, abundant caution, and sharing a world.

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    Today a judge in Maine ruled that quarantining nurse Kaci Hickox is not necessary to protect the public from Ebola. Hickox, who had been in Sierra Leone for a month helping to treat people infected with Ebola, had earlier been subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey upon her return to the U.S., despite [...]

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