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Posts Tagged "Politics & Sociology"

@ScientificAmerican

Playing Politics: The Science of ElectionsSA‘s Latest E-Book

Scientific American launched its e-Book program this summer, starting with The Science of Sports: Winning in the Olympics. Each month, we add new titles selected from the most relevant issues facing science today. For October, our newest e-Book reminds readers that politics makes strange bedfellows. This maxim becomes even more vivid when politics is put under [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Political Leaders Gather at D.C. Reception to Discuss Scientific American‘s Special Issue on Cities

Mariette DiChristina at podium, speaking

Congressional staffers, federal agency senior personnel, non-profit leaders and scientific organization executives joined Scientific American Editor in chief Mariette DiChristina at a recent reception to celebrate the magazine’s special issue on cities. “Celebrating cities in many ways is celebrating what is best in us,” DiChristina told the crowd as she kicked off the evening honoring [...]

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Cross-Check

Why Gaddafi’s Death Doesn’t Fill Me With Joy

I was going to let the demise of Muammar Gaddafi pass without comment—after all, what does the murder of this tyrant have to do with science, right? But a bizarre essay in The New York Times on October 26, “Dictators Get the Death They Deserve,” by the historian Simon Windbag—I mean Sebag—Montefiore, has pushed my [...]

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Cross-Check

“Gene-whiz” science strikes again: Researchers discover a liberal gene

Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. Or so religious conservatives would have us believe. But liberalism is in our genes. Or so researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard University would have us believe. Yes, the inevitable has happened. Just before Election Day—surely not a coincidence—scientists report an association between liberal political views [...]

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Culturing Science

What The Ruling on Gene Patenting Means

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Although I mostly think about conservation, ecology and nature, I have a soft spot for medicine and, in particular, genetics. It’s partly due to my own family history and experience, partly my interest in how people think about medicine and death, and partly my 6-month internship at Nature Medicine, which began more than two years [...]

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Doing Good Science

Professors, we need you to do more!

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…though we can’t be bothered to notice all the work you’re already doing, to acknowledge the ways in which the explicit and implicit conditions of your employment make it extremely difficult to do it, or the ways in which other cultural forces, including the pronouncements of New York Times columnists, make the “more” we’re exhorting [...]

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Doing Good Science

Fear of scientific knowledge about firearm-related injuries.

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In the United States, a significant amount of scientific research is funded through governmental agencies, using public money. Presumably, this is not primarily aimed at keeping scientists employed and off the streets*, but rather is driven by a recognition that reliable knowledge about how various bits of our world work can be helpful to us [...]

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Doing Good Science

Science, priorities, and the challenges of sharing a world.

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For scientists, doing science is often about trying to satisfy deep curiosity about how various bits of our world work. For society at large, it often seems like science ought to exist primarily to solve particular pressing problems — or at least, that this is what science ought to be doing, given that our tax [...]

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Doing Good Science

Is it worth fighting about what’s taught in high school biology class?

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It is probably no surprise to my regular readers that I get a little exercised about the science wars that play out across the U.S. in various school boards and court actions. It’s probably unavoidable, given that I think about science for a living — when you’ve got a horse in the race, you end [...]

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Doing Good Science

The Research Works Act: asking the public to pay twice for scientific knowledge.

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There’s been a lot of buzz in the science blogosphere recently about the Research Works Act, a piece of legislation that’s been introduced in the U.S. that may have big impacts on open access publishing of scientific results. John Dupuis has an excellent round-up of posts on the subject. I’m going to add my two [...]

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Doing Good Science

Is being a good scientist a matter of what you do or of what you feel in your heart?

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If the question posed in the title of the post seems to you to have an obvious answer, sit tight while I offer a situation in which it might be less obvious. We recently discussed philosopher Karl Popper’s efforts to find the line of demarcation between science and pseudo-science. In that discussion, one of the [...]

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Doing Good Science

Dividing cognitive labor, sharing a world: the American public and climate science.

It’s not just scientists who think science is up to something important. Even non-scientists are inclined to think that scientific knowledge claims have a special grip on our world, that they are likely to give us information or insight that will help us move through that world more successfully. But scientists and non-scientists alike recognize [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Plan B: My politically incorrect take on the news

Protest over Savita Halappanavar's death - separation of Church and State

Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland, staring into distorting mirrors. The ongoing fight over Plan B has again precipitated this disquieting feeling. There is such a disconnect between some stated outcomes that are claimed as being desirable and actions that don’t support that. In this case, probably most people would agree that elective abortions [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Elections Have Consequences: Fungal Meningitis and Compounding Pharmacies

Antikamnia calendar

32 deaths. 461 cases…and counting. Unless you live under a rock, you probably know about the nationwide outbreak of an unusual fungal meningitis caused by Exserohilum rostratum, a plant fungus. The outbreak is now linked to a single pharmacy in Massachusetts, New England Compounding Center (NECC), which compounded a variety of drugs used for injection, [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Molecules to Medicine: Plan B: The Tradition of Politics at the FDA

In my last post, I focused on flaws in the medical device approval process. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ “FDA at a Crossroads” meeting also covered problems with drug approval. This is perhaps no better illustrated than by the disappointing decision by Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius’ to deny the emergency contraceptive, Plan B, over-the-counter [...]

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Observations

DIY Opioid Antidote Gets Fast FDA Approval

Evzio is designed to be user-friendly

Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of injury in the United States. More people between the ages of 25 and 64 now die from overdose than in car crashes—and prescription drugs are largely to blame. Opioids are particularly dangerous, killing more than 16,000 people in 2010. Prescription opioid overdoses now claim more lives each year [...]

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Observations

Toxins in Nutrition Supplements Still Escape FDA Oversight

Image: Womenshealth.gov

When young and middle-aged adults started showing up at the hospital with liver failure last spring, doctors in Hawaii struggled to find the thread that connected the patients. They found it in the form of a popular sports supplement, OxyElite Pro. The supplement was linked last May to severe hepatitis, but the U.S. Food and [...]

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Observations

How to Reconcile Big Data and Privacy

White House image, courtesy of CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade

In many ways “big data” and “encryption” are antithetical. The former involves harvesting, storing and analyzing information to reveal patterns that researchers, law enforcement and industry can use to their benefit. The goal of the latter is to obscure that data from prying eyes. That tension was at the core of a conference this week [...]

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Observations

CVS Anti-Tobacco Move Possible Boon for Electronic Cigarettes?

An electronic cigarette in its charger

When retail giant CVS Caremark unveiled its announcement this morning that it will no longer sell cigarettes or other tobacco products in its stores it was rightly hailed as a boon for public health, even netting public praise – and a thank you – from the White House. But even as CVS said its decision [...]

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Observations

Obama Vows More Executive Action on High-Tech Manufacturing, Climate Change Mitigation and Renewal of Science

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

After a year buffeted by squeezes to federally funded research from a government shutdown as well as an extremely bumpy rollout of healthcare.gov, President Barack Obama’s fifth State of the Union Tuesday night struck a few hopeful notes for science and technology. Speaking before Congress, he devoted roughly a fifth of his  speech to topics [...]

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Observations

Could Your Texts, Tweets and Selfies Be Funding War in Africa?

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Hard to believe that our mundane social media banter could have an impact on the civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade. The problem isn’t the content of these messages, it’s the devices used to send them. Smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices often have electrical components made [...]

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Observations

The Formula for Kick-Starting U.S. Manufacturing Begins with Technology

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Much of what we buy in the U.S. is not made here, and hasn’t been for decades. If 2013 is any indication this could be changing, although the next generation of American manufacturing will differ greatly from its predecessor thanks to advanced technologies that rely on information rather than brawn. Early in the year, President [...]

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Observations

HealthCare.gov’s Failure to Launch

Image: iStock/Thinkstock

For a president who sailed into office on a digital-heavy campaign that helped engineer his victory, the crippling glitches plaguing the October 1 HealthCare.gov rollout were a rare mar on the administration’s tech-savvy record. Now the website snafu is fostering an intense hatred of the word “glitch” and fueling a steady stream of vitriol at [...]

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Observations

Hospital-Based Infections Could Be Moving to Doctors’ Offices

MRSA Image: Janice Haney Carr, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/WIkimedia Commons

When patients check into a hospital, they expect doctors there to fix what ails them, but one in 20 patients seeking care at hospitals contract a health care–based infection. Those infections escalate care costs to the tune of billions of dollars. And many of them–one in five–are part of the scary alphabet soup of superbugs [...]

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Observations

EPA Challenges Coal Industry to Adopt New Technology

Image: Gralo

The White House unveiled a powerful incentive to speed track carbon capture technology innovations this morning with the release of highly-anticipated requirements to harness the emissions of new coal-fired power plants and natural gas facilities. “These proposed standards are the first uniform national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants,” said Gina McCarthy, the [...]

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PsySociety

Weiner’s Wiener? Too perfect to be a coincidence.

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In case you haven’t heard, Carlos Danger — AKA shamed former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner — recently got in trouble once again for exposing his infamous…well, his infamous wiener. Everyone’s had fun ragging on Weiner for his online gaffes. Two years ago, Weiner accidentally exposed a meant-to-be-privately-sent picture of his privates to the entire [...]

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PsySociety

I’m Excited About The Royal Baby (And It’s Okay If You Are Too)

Royal Wedding - The Newlyweds Greet Wellwishers From The Buckingham Palace Balcony

It’s official. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to the “royal baby” on July 22nd, a bouncing baby boy who will one day be the King of the United Kingdom. Although many Americans are thrilled to partake in the Royal Baby fanfare, I’ve also seen a lot of discussions revolving around the questionable morality of [...]

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PsySociety

Fighting Fair: How To Tackle Crucial Conversations On Facebook & Twitter

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When’s the last time you had an online fight?       Unfortunately, most of us probably won’t have to try particularly hard to recall the last time that this happened.  In a recent survey, 76 percent of almost 2,700 respondents indicated that they have witnessed an argument over social media, 88 percent of respondents [...]

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PsySociety

Fox News Fact Check: Are studies on maternal employment all tinged with political bias?

Fox News

Last week, the anchors at Fox News made headlines when they covered the recent Pew Research Center finding that 40% of all households in America have a female primary breadwinner. About 1/3 of these households consist of two-parent households where the mothers make more money than their husbands, and the remaining 2/3 consist of single [...]

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PsySociety

Fox News Fact Check: Is it bad for lower-income kids if Mom has a job outside the home?

Fairbalanced

Last week, the anchors at Fox News made headlines when they covered the recent Pew Research Center finding that 40% of all households in America have a female primary breadwinner. About 1/3 of these households consist of two-parent households where the mothers make more money than their husbands, and the remaining 2/3 consist of single [...]

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PsySociety

Will changing your Facebook profile picture do anything for marriage equality?

HRC Equality Logo

As SCOTUS debates the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and DOMA this week, Facebook users all over the nation have become part of a burgeoning social media trend. Supporters of marriage equality have been changing their profile pictures to the icon on the left, a version of the Human Rights Campaign logo designed specifically to indicate [...]

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PsySociety

If the Supreme Court is biased, which way does it lean?

Shakespeare

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. – William Shakespeare, Hamlet According to a poll from the Pew Research Center that has come out just in time for this week’s historic decisions on marriage equality, we should all be concerned. As it turns out, there’s a tremendous amount of bias [...]

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PsySociety

Legalizing same-sex marriage: Politics, personalities, and persuasion tricks.

In honor of the big decisions occurring this week in SCOTUS regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, I am re-posting a slightly edited version of this piece from the archives of my WordPress blog. This was originally posted in June 2011, shortly after New York legalized same-sex marriage. You [...]

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PsySociety

Stalin, Mother Teresa, and Rob Portman: What do they have in common?

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Rob Portman, Republican senator from Ohio and one-time contender for Romney’s would-be VP slot, announced on Friday that he has reversed his very public stance against gay marriage. As the well-known conservative stated in an Op-Ed piece on Friday, he now believes that “if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love [...]

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Talking back

Are Delta-FosB, or 5-HTT the Obama Genes?

The Atlantic featured a captivating fantasy in its November issue about a scenario to assassinate the U.S. president in 2016 by using a bioweapon specifically tailored to his genetic makeup—a virus that targeted the commander in chief and no one else. A great plot for a Hollywood thriller. But will we really see four years [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

JFK, nuclear weapons and the 1963 Peace Speech: How far have we come?

Exactly 60 years ago on June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made an impassioned plea for peace to the world on the campus of American University in Washington D.C. The speech was carefully crafted, copies were shown to only a few trusted advisors for comment, and Kennedy’s ace speechwriter Ted Sorensen worked on it [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Climate change “deniers” and “skeptics”: What’s the difference?

This post is really a question. Over the past few years, ever since the climate change debate, well, heated up, the words “skeptic” and “denier” have been thrown around on countless websites and blogs, usually accompanied by much frothing at the mouth. This has left me wondering; is there anything bordering on a consensus among [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Political ideology can dominate other factors in choosing energy efficiency

Energy efficiency sounds like a good idea on multiple fronts; mitigating global warming, reducing dependence on foreign oil and saving money. Conservatives and liberals may disagree about the first reason, but you would expect both of them to enthusiastically embrace energy efficiency based on the other two reasons. Yet we find attitudes toward energy efficiency [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

The head of the House Committee on Science does not understand how science works

It’s been said many times. Curiosity-driven research with no immediate application or goal is what has primarily led to science’s greatest discoveries as well as our high standard of living. It is what has led to the ascendancy of American science during the twentieth century. If you want great discoveries to happen, the recipe is [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

How Elections Are Decided: Who Would You Choose as Captain of Your Boat?

The 1960 Presidential election, in which Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts squared off against Vice President Richard Nixon, would usher in a new era in Presidential politics, thanks to the growing prevalence of television ownership. The so-called “Great Debates” – four of them – would be the first ever televised Presidential debates, and some [...]

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