Mailbag

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Mailbag

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…

One of the key requirements that researchers conducting studies with human subjects must meet is that they obtain the informed consent of the participating subjects (or of a parent or guardian, if the subject is not able to give informed consent himself or herself). However, there are particular instances where giving the subjects complete information…

I recently received an email, prompted by my series about having a family and an academic career, asking for some input: I am a mere first year in a Ph.D. program and am a bit older than the other students. I am wholeheartedly committed to the program I am also considering the seemingly traitorous act…

In the aftermath of my two posts on allegations of ethical lapses among a group of paleontologists studying aetosaurs, an email correspondent posed a really excellent question: what’s a junior person to do about the misconduct of senior people in the field when the other senior people seem more inclined to circle the wagons than…

A regular reader of the blog emailed me the following: Have you ever considered setting up a section for laymen in your blog where posts related to the philosophy of science, how research is conducted, how scientists think etc. are archived? An example of what I think might be a good article to include would…

Rules of engagement.

To address an issue that came up in discussion of posts on other blogs, I want to make clear the principles I follow when dealing with real-world scenarios here or via email:

While our exams were weeks ago, I know that some folks (especially high school students) are just finishing up. So these observations sent to me by a reader may be timely: I believe that if students are passing their classes with a B and above they should not have to take final exams. Most students…

Blogging as myself.

In a private communication, Sciencewoman asks: Just out of curiosity, how have you been able to blog under your real name? Has your department been supportive? Are you post-tenure and immune from some of the pressures that the rest of us feel? Or is it that a philosophy department views outreach/education differently from a strict…

Brains enjoy getting information about the world around them. Although our sense organs do a pretty good job of keeping the data flowing to the brain, the occasional sense-organ-extending measuring device can add a whole new set of experiences for our brains to chew on. We wrap up the brain-friendly giftables list with a selection…

The human mind seems to like creating things, and kids will use whatever tools are at their disposal to build. My uncle used to build death-defying systems of roadways with Hotwheels track and masking tape. A childhood friend of mine built elaborate structures out of Fig Newtons (largely because they were in abundance in her…