The Scientific Activist

Archives for November, 2006

Ah, So That’s How They Did It!

Anyone who has tried to replicate an experiment based on the description published in a paper knows that this can be difficult, frustrating, and often close to impossible. The protocols in the Methods section can be incomplete, even inaccurate, and sometimes lead the hopeful reader down a trail of never-ending references to previous papers, eventually…

In this week’s edition of PNAS, crop scientists at Texas A&M University report the engineering of cotton strains with edible seeds. Now, when I think of cotton, I generally think of clothes, especially the kind that really seem to like getting wrinkled in the drier. Not counting the unrelated–but still delicious–exception of cotton candy, food…

Back in August, I and several others in the scientific community expressed skepticism over Nature paper (subscription required) describing a new technique billed by the media as generating “ethically sound” stem cells. The technique involved removing a single cell from an eight-cell blastula and using this cell to derive a line of stem cells while…

Since we had an interesting discussion here back in September about the rapid decline in success rates of NIH R01 grants, I should point readers over to Effect Measure for some informed commentary on a recent article in Science (subscription required) from NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni. The success rate of Type-1 grants, for example,…

One of the most significant anticipated results for many–particularly within the scientific community–of a Democratic victory on Election Day was going to be a new-found ability to hold in check the Bush Administration and its penchant for political interference in science. It appears that the Democrats are looking to make good on their promise, and…

NMR Blogs

There really aren’t that many blogs out their written by scientists about the science that they do, and this seems particularly true in my area of study, NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance). I have been able to find a few, although none of them focus specifically on biological or macromolecular NMR. The following list is, of…

As the Republicans try to pick up the pieces of their Election Day loss last week, one of the things they have to do is select their new Congressional leadership. Most of their choices haven’t been too surprising, including their choice for House Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-Ohio). As House Majority leader, Boehner had previously…

Living successfully with other people demands sacrifice. From going out of your way to pick your little brother up from school to paying taxes toward government health care programs, there is an expectation in any society that its members will sacrifice some personal gain for the greater good. This cooperation, in turn, contributes to a…

Black Tuesday (for the Conservatives)

Four days after the Democrats’ impressive Election Day victory, the commentary keeps streaming in, almost to the point of overkill. Today’s Guardian, though, ran a particularly poignant piece from Martin Kettle: Every poll for months had signalled a serious Republican defeat. Reporting from America in May, I was told that no Republican strategist believed they…

Chris of Mixing Memory points us toward a good comparison of the Democratic victory in 2006 to the Republican victory in 1994. In short, the comparison–located at a Columbia statistics blog, Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science–shows that the Democrats won a greater percentage of the total vote in 2006 (56%) than the Republicans…