Policy

Category archives for Policy

Can you be skeptical about GM but believe in climate change? So asks Alice Bell in The Guardian. The answer is of course, “Yes,” but you can also be a fundamentalist Christian while believing in evolution and being a great scientist, so being able to hold two things in your brain at the same time is not…

Two weeks ago, the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think-tank) released a position paper based largely on the academic research of one Jason Richwine. The conclusion (roughly paraphrased): Hispanic people have lower IQ’s than white people, so an overly permissive immigration policy will drag down the US economy. Ethically, this conclusion is a deep affront to…

Ok, this is a little different, but it’s annoying, so I’m going to talk about it. Let me begin by saying I love the Union of Concerned Scientists. They’ve been wonderful advocates on climate change for decades; they are media savvy, they train scientists to be media savvy, and they push the media and policy makers alike to…

Maybe He Was Talking About Ducks

A mini furor erupted this weekend, when republican Senate nominee Todd Akin defended his position of denying abortions even to victims of rape, because in the case of “legitimate rape,” women have biological defenses that prevent pregnancy: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV…

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the launch of a new initiative from the Union of Concerned Scientists – The Center for Science and Democracy. The UCS itself was founded in the late 1960’s in response to the Cold War nuclear arms race. Graduate students and faculty at MIT decided that someone needed to advocate for “greater…

The Future of Science Publishing

A little over 300 years ago, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a dry goods seller from Delft in Holland, learned to grind glass into lenses and fashion the best microscopes the world had ever seen. In those days, the idea of being a “scientist” as a profession was ludicrous. Natural philosophy was pastime for nobility or at…

Back in December, Rees Kassen wrote an editorial for Nature arguing that if scientists want political decisions to reflect good science, they have to get involved. scientists[...] think too highly of their own view of the world and fail to appreciate the complex, multifarious nature of decision making. Our mistake is to think that science…

To do science, we need government funding. However you feel about the free market, there just isn’t a way for the free market to work on basic research. It’s too risky, with not enough profitability. The things I discover in lab next week will never make me rich, and I’m not aware of many Nobel…

In other words, you’re more likely to catch a cold from shaking their hand than to get an STI from Sitting on the same bench. There isn’t much reason to fear getting a sexually transmitted disease from naked sitters. These infections are most commonly the result of vigorous and prolonged exposure of a person’s mucous…

Keep Funding Science

I’ve been to Washington DC on a number of occasions, but this was a totally new experience. Starting at 10am, I had a meeting every hour on the hour with congressional staff, and I asked them all the same thing: Don’t cut the budget of the NIH. You may know that the government is struggling…