Adventures in Ethics and Science

Archives for November, 2009

Under the weight of the semester.

It’s the last day of November. I have three more meetings with each of my classes before finals. I have oodles of grading to do before finals. I have one big administrative task and at least a dozen smaller ones to do before the end of the semester. And, at the moment, I feel as…

Friday Sprog Blogging: questions.

Today, the Free-Ride offspring have lots of questions. Maybe science can answer some of them. Younger offspring: Why do the stars shine so bright? Elder offspring: Why do snails come out on rainy days? Younger offspring: Why does food taste so good?

I received an email from reader Doug Blank (who gave me permission to share it here and to identify him by name) about a perplexing situation: Janet, I thought I’d solicit your advice. Recently, I found an instance of parts of my thesis appearing in a journal article, and of the paper being presented at…

The younger Free-Ride offspring’s soccer team has been playing in a regional tournament this weekend, and we’re girding our loins and guarding our shins to go out and play a second day of tournament games. I’m happy that they’re playing so well, but I have to say, watching games in late November is a different…

Let’s say you’re a college student. You have a class meeting today at which a short essay (about 400 words) is due. The essay counts for about 5% of your grade for the course. At that class meeting, your instructor will be lecturing on the reading assignment upon which that short essay is focused. The…

Dr. Free-Ride: Any ideas for tomorrow’s sprog blog? Younger offspring: I wanted to do how photosynthesis works. Dr. Free-Ride: Did you do any research on that since last week? Younger offspring: I don’t do research.

Dismal, yes, but is it science?

As I was driving home from work today, I was listening to Marketplace on public radio. In the middle of a story, reported by Nancy Marshall Genzer, about opponents of health care reform, there was an interesting comment that bears on the nature of economics as a scientific discipline. From the transcript of the story:…

Dr. Free-Ride: Do you know what a placebo is? Elder offspring: A placebo is something that you think works but doesn’t really work.

Grades for sale?

Steinn apparently knows how to get me riled about wrong-headed middle school fundraising initiatives, since he nearly derailed my efforts to push through my stack of grading with his recent post about one such initiative. He quotes from a Raleigh News & Observer story: Rosewood Middle School in Goldsboro… will sell 20 test points to…

Chalk dust thigh: Indeed, this was the state of my pants after I walked partway across campus from my classroom to my office, so the level of chalk dust had decreased from its maximum level when I snapped this picture.