Henry Gee (a Senior Editor at Nature) has written in today’s Guardian on the awkward public status of science, stemming from an ongoing but worsening failure of the general public, the media and the political classes to understand how science really works. Jumbo jets, damp-proofing, the arch, plastic, moon landings and nuclear power – not to mention countless other modern achievements and taken-for-granted features of everyday life – owe their utility, reliability, ubiquity or even existence to science, in one form or another. As a result, we see the pronouncements of science in terms of absolute certainty, unquestionable fact, or “Truth”. Continue reading
An interesting article. Though the implications are not straightforward, and the outcome not as clear cut as the headline might suggest, it offers support to those who feel that unmodified DNA should be no more patentable than naturally-occurring minerals or other substances in their natural state.
War is not the only threat to world heritage sites. Ignorance is just as dangerous, as shown by the destruction of a Mayan site in Belize and damage to a Neolithic site in Britain.
George Monibot discusses the alleged distortion by political interests of scientific advice to the public from government scientists. It is an important issue, well expressed in this piece. I say “allegedly” though, because quotes from scientists are notoriously vulnerable to misinterpretation out of context, and scientists themselves often struggle to get their point across in ways non-scientists (including Mr. Monibot) can understand.
Yet when government scientists unambiguously disagree with their political masters, they can expect to be scorned and even dismissed. Wouldn’t want to be in their shoes…
A US biotech company is fighting to protect the patents it took out on a test for a cancer-causing gene. Scientists say a win for the firm would set back a growing ability to detect diseases
I’ve wanted to write something about drug law reform for ages but struggle to get started. In the mean time, here’s more challenging grist for the mill…
This well-considered post in today’s Occam’s Corner blog (hosted by The Guardian) strikes a delicate balance between strident retaliation and gracious acceptance of criticism – while still maintaining an overall air of fury. Continue reading
The Guardian continues its coverage of the sentences handed down to seismologists accused of wilfully misleading the public over the the L’Aquila earthquake of 2009.