When the demand of my job and my family life allow, I try to take advantage of the fact that I live in California by maintaining a vegetable garden. One of the less pleasant aspects of vegetable gardening is that, every winter and spring, it requires me to embark on a program of snail and slug eradication -- which is to say, I hunt for snails and slugs in my garden and I kill them.As it happens, I'm a vegetarian and an ethicist.
When we think about food, how often do we think about what it's going to do for us (in terms of nutrition, taste, satiety), and how often do we focus on what was required to get it to our tables?Back when I was a wee chemistry student learning how to solve problems in thermodynamics, my teachers described the importance for any given problem of identifying the system and the surroundings.
You may have noticed by now that the Scientific American Blog Network is having something of a Chemistry Day.Reading about chemistry is fun, but I reckon it's even more fun to do some chemistry.
Like other scientific disciplines, chemistry is in the business of building knowledge. In addition to knowledge, chemistry sometimes also builds stuff -- molecules which didn't exist until people figured out ways to make them.Scientists (among others) tend to assume that knowledge is a good thing.
In my last post, I set out to explain why the scientific quest to build something approaching objective knowledge requires help from other people. However, teamwork can be a challenge in the best of circumstances.
One of the qualities we expect from good science is objectivity. And, we're pretty sure that the scientific method (whatever that is) has something to do with delivering scientific knowledge that is objective (or more objective than it would be otherwise, at any rate).In this post, I'm here to tell you that it's more complicated than that -- at least, if you're operating with the picture of the scientific method you were taught in middle school.
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 that we can separate the questions: What is the world like?
Welcome to my shiny new blog at Scientific American! Here, we’ll be talking about what’s involved in doing good science — and about what ethics has to do with it.
STAFFBehind the scenes at Scientific AmericanRead
Anecdotes from the Archive
Anthropology in Practice
Exploring the human condition.Read
Insights into intelligence, creativity, and the mindRead
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
Frontiers for Young Minds
Science by and for kids ages 8-15Read
Commentary invited by editors of Scientific AmericanRead
Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday DeceptionsRead
Discussion and news about planets, exoplanets, and astrobiologyRead
MIND Guest Blog
Commentary invited by editors of Scientific American MindRead
Not bad science
New discoveries in animal behavior and cognitionRead
Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific AmericanRead
More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our livesRead
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
Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - living and extinctRead
The Artful Amoeba
A Blog About the Weird Wonderfulness of Life on EarthRead
Exploring and celebrating diversity in science.Read