Adventures in Ethics and Science

Archives for December, 2008

How I spent last weekend.

Blogging has been light for a while owing to the fact that the Free-Ride family was in transit to the wilds of New Jersey in order to celebrate Uncle Fishy and RMD getting hitched.

I was presented with this picture by the younger Free-Ride offspring. I’m not entirely sure whether it’s more accurate to describe it as a map or a process diagram. However, this being December 24th, it is timely. Here is what I can glean from the various pieces of the diagram:

I’ve been asked by the National Academies of Science to let you all know about a survey in which they’d like you to participate. Yes, you! Here’s the blurb: What topics in science, engineering, and medicine matter most to you? The National Academies are interested in developing useful and engaging print and web-based educational materials…

Friday Sprog Blogging: dreaming.

As winter break approaches, the younger Free-Ride offspring had an unscheduled nightmare. OK, none of the nightmares is scheduled. Still, this is a week where we could all use more sleep, not less. Younger offspring: I thought I didn’t have nightmares anymore, but then I had one last night.

You may remember that last year we were inspired by Bake for a Change to dabble in “green” gingerbread construction. As 2008 draws to a close, the challenge has been issued once again to make a house both good enough to eat and eco-friendly enough to heat (or cool, etc.). The rules are the same…

Bad cites. Bad science?

Do scientists see themselves, like Isaac Newton, building new knowledge by standing on the shoulders of giants? Or are they most interested in securing their own position in the scientific conversation by stepping on the feet, backs, and heads of other scientists in their community? Indeed, are some of them willfully ignorant about the extent…

Friday Sprog Blogging: dating.

I do not know why, in December, the Free-Ride offspring turn their attention to questions of evidence and testimony. (I do worry, however, that by this time next year the elder Free-Ride offspring may become a 12-25 truther.) This week, the sprogs considered ways to establish dates that don’t rely solely on the testimony of…

Ethics and population.

Back at the end of November, Martin wrote a post on the ethics of overpopulation, in which he offered these assertions: It is unethical for anyone to produce more than two children. (Adoption of orphans, on the other hand, is highly commendable.) It is unethical to limit the availability of contraceptives, abortion, surgical sterilisation and…

Back in November, at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting in Pittsburgh, I heard a really interesting talk by Jeremy Howick of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University about the challenges of double-blind trials in medical research. I’m not going to reconstruct his talk here (since it’s his research, not mine), but I…

In spring of 2007, after nearly two years without a contract, the faculty of the 23 campuses of the California State University system (of which my university is a part) voted to ratify a contract. Among other things, that contract included raises to help our salaries catch up to the cost of living in California.…