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 dollars are going to support it...
As part of my day-job as a philosophy professor, I regularly teach a semester-long "Ethics in Science" course at my university. Among other things, the course is intended to help science majors figure out why being ethical might matter to them if they continue on their path to becoming working scientists and devote their careers to the knowledge-building biz.And, there's a reasonable chance that my "Ethics in Science" course wouldn't exist but for strings attached to training grants from federal funding agencies requiring that students funded by these training grants receive ethics training.The funding agencies demand the ethics training component largely in response to high profile cases of federally funded scientists behaving badly on the public's dime...
There are some nights that Wikipedia raises more questions for me than it answers.The other evening, reminiscing about some of the background noise of my life ( viz.
The other day I was looking for a movie I could watch with instant streaming that featured Josh Kornbluth* and I came upon Strange Culture . Strange Culture is a documentary about the arrest of artist and SUNY-Buffalo professor of art history Steve Kurtz on charges of bioterrorism, mail fraud, and wire fraud in 2004 after the death of his wife, Hope.At the time Strange Culture was released in 2007, the legal case against Steve Kurtz (and against University of Pittsburgh professor of genetics Robert Ferrell) was ongoing, so the documentary uses actors to interpret events in the case about which Kurtz could not speak on advice of counsel, as well as the usual news footage and interviews of people in the case who were able to talk freely...
There have been recent developments in the criminal case against UCLA and chemistry professor Patrick Harran in connection with the fatal laboratory accident that resulted in the death of Sheri Sangji (which we've discussed here and here)...
When I and my three younger siblings were growing up, our parents had a habit of muttering, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." The muttering that followed that aphorism usually had to do with the danger coming from the "little" amount of knowledge rather than a more comprehensive understanding of whatever field of endeavor was playing host to the hare-brained scheme of the hour...
At the tail-end of a three-week vacation from all things online (something that I badly needed at the end of teaching an intensive five-week online course), the BBC news reader on the radio pulled me back in...
What is the deal with the picky eater?Is she simply being willful, choosing the dinner table as a battlefield on which to fight for her right to self-determination?
In our modern world, many of the things that contribute to the mostly smooth running of our day-to-day lives are largely invisible to us. We tend to notice them only when they break.
One of the interesting and inescapable features of our knowledge-building efforts is just how hard it can be to nail down objective facts. It is especially challenging to tell an objective story when the object of study is us...
STAFFBehind the scenes at Scientific AmericanRead
Anecdotes from the Archive
Anthropology in Practice
Exploring the human condition.Read
Insights into intelligence, creativity, personality, and well-beingRead
Everything you always wanted to know about raising science-literate kidsRead
Critical views of science in the newsRead
Dark Star Diaries
Explore the science behind the dog in your bedRead
News and research about endangered species from around the worldRead
Eye of the Storm
The Science Behind Extreme WeatherRead
Frontiers for Young Minds
Science by and for kids ages 8-15Read
Commentary invited by editors of Scientific AmericanRead
Climate science in a changing worldRead
Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday DeceptionsRead
Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiologyRead
Opinion, arguments & analyses from guest experts and from the editors of Scientific AmericanRead
Roots of Unity
Mathematics: learning it, doing it, celebrating it.Read
Adventures in the good science of rock-breaking.Read
STAFFIllustrating science since 1845Read
STAFFA science blog, sans blagueRead
The Artful Amoeba
A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on EarthRead
Exploring and celebrating diversity in science.Read