May 24 2012

Linkfest

What does it mean to say that something causes 16% of cancers? Not as much as journalists and especially, headline writers, might think.

Smelling like a man. Could be a good thing. Or not. I wouldn’t mind a candle with the fragrance of freshly cut wood, but one of the reasons for using a candle or room deodorizer is to lessen odors like fish, beer, booze, or tobacco.

Just watched the finals of the National Geographic Bee. I feel so inadequate now. While I couldn’t recall the name of the city on the final question, it was at least something that I “sorta knew” unlike most of the other questions where I had NO idea. Yeah… I said to my husband, “It starts with R, I just can’t think of the name.” What brilliant children! Of course they’ve studied long and hard for this. Congratulations to Rahul Nagvekar of Sugar Land, TX.

Have you eaten venison? (via Bad Data, Bad which you should be reading if you aren’t already)

In general, 65 percent of people have eaten venison. But among those who have mistakenly used the public restroom of the opposite sex, 80 percent have eaten venison.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read. Unless you read it here.

Crisis Cleaning For Last-Minute Guests. From a new site called Housewife How To’s by an old internet friend of mine. Even if you’re like me and not likely to do any housecleaning, you’ll still enjoy her writing:

The best way to deal with unexpected guests is prevention: train them to give a week’s notice before coming over. Unfortunately, some folks won’t listen.

I’m off to contemplate not cleaning my house. Later!


Apr 21 2012

Breasts, Testicles, Prostates, Men, Women, Pain, Politics

OK, I didn’t have a good title for this post. That one got copied right into the tags field. Trolling for traffic? You betcha.

One of the bad things following the passage of Obamacare and Sarah Palin’s invocation of “death panels” is that now it’s considered necessary by some (certainly not all) conservatives and libertarians to automatically assume that any research finding that might also reduce costs is automatically some variant of “rationing” or on the slippery slope to a “death panel”.

To wit – this one by Althouse, linked last week by Instapundit following a link to Dr. Helen’s rather innocuous post on rates of prostate screenings.

No matter how I look at it, I can’t see the relationship between the rates of prostate screening, pain research, pap smears, expense, fairness, and the Buffett-rule that Glenn Reynolds apparently finds obvious. So now I’m wondering about him falling for or into mere drama where anything can be taken to be “rationing”. Or a precursor of a “death panel”.

Is stretching an idea, meme, partisan point, etc., to the breaking point the same as jumping the shark? If not, it should be!


Jul 26 2011

Soylent Green, Red, Orange, and Purple Is People!

Tag: brains,food & drink,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 8:08 pm

Well, not exactly.

Though surely we will see “jello pop science” as a Wheel of Fortune  Before and After puzzle.

Developments like this are going to bump up against some of our deeply ingrained “Ewwww, ICK” reactions now that they are not just in the realm of science fiction. 

One of the problems the story notes with current gelatin manufacturing methods is that it is not vegetarian since it is derived from animals. Like this commenter, I’m having trouble seeing where this technique will solve that problem for the more picky vegetarians out there.

Photo found here, but upon further browsing, I’m sure this is the original.


Jul 24 2011

Get Your Links Here! Free!

Tag: art,Science, Medicine, etc.,sillinessDonna B. @ 12:50 am

Organic Water. Riiiiigghht.

Since I’m all out of organic water, how about some inorganic BS? Create your own at the Arty Bollocks Generator.

My work explores the relationship between Jungian archetypes and football chants.

With influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Frida Kahlo, new synergies are manufactured from both orderly and random dialogues.

Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of the moment. What starts out as triumph soon becomes finessed into a cacophony of defeat, leaving only a sense of unreality and the dawn of a new synthesis.

As momentary replicas become transformed through boundaried and academic practice, the viewer is left with an insight into the inaccuracies of our culture.

Telepathic soldiers. Well, not really, but very interesting research and development. I found it interesting that two of the sounds being initially researched are “ooh” and “aah”. These will surely be followed by “sh”, “i”, and “t”.

Eat Your Iron. I think distilled water should be substituted for tap water.

Yep, he knows what he’s doing. The course reminds me of the AZ driving test course that I would not have failed if I’d…. ohnevermind.

Helpful Household Hints.

I wouldn’t cry over spilled milk, but this is entirely different.

Should you ever need to cite this post in print, here’s how.


May 08 2011

Here’s What I’ve Read Online This Week

Best Mothers of the Animal Kingdom - I’m really glad I’m not an octopus.

The Beauty and the Bartender - a dating service tale with a heart-warming twist.

How to make cheap wine taste better  – knowledge is free.

A lost girl remembered - an excerpt and follow-up from The Poisoner’s Handbook.

The Costs of Not Vaccinating - the story of a 2008 measles outbreak in Tucson.  

Parasites, boogers, and garlic - oh, and don’t scratch.

Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air - Yes, mostly. The literature review beginning on p. 5 of the pdf names a book I now want to read – Expert Political Judgment. The best part of the study begins on page 17 with descriptions of the 26 columnists and types of predictions they made. While the numbers make some of them look good, the descriptions lead me right back to the hot air conclusion.

Ten Peeves About Greenies


Sep 26 2010

It’s Complex

Tag: brains,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 12:10 am

I’m sure there’s a law by Murphy to cover the phenomenon that Razib is discovering.

My first choice:
You can never tell which way the train went by looking at the track.

Second:
Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables the organism will do as it damn well pleases.


Jul 29 2010

Links That Spur Questions And Thought

When theory and fact fail to intersect – Bookworm Room. Political lessons from buildings.

Who Goes Nazi? – The Anchoress, via Assistant Village Idiot. Suggested further reading: The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.

Masterminds or Muddlers? - the glittering eye.

The prototype for a mastermind would be Napoleon, someone who with a combination of brilliance, insight, savvy, guile, and the urge to power was able to bring complicated plans with many moving parts to fruition.

Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can’t save your life? — The New Yorker, by Atul Gawande. And… as I see it, a complete misunderstanding of that article by Megan McArdle and most of her commentariat. That misunderstanding is further displayed in this McArdle post:  Does Medicaid Kill? Though not easy to identify, there are multiple points where medicine becomes harmful rather than helpful. Part of this has to do with the way we evaluate drugs — by choosing an endpoint (ie, blood pressure reduction) without evaluating whether that leads to longer life, much less the quality of that life.

That’s enough deep thought for a while. I will now return to my regularly scheduled whining, ranting, silliness, and non-blogging.


Jul 20 2010

Reason #18 For Not Blogging Regularly

Tag: computers & internet,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 10:36 pm

I was reading elsewhere. Actually that also accounts for reasons #1 through #17.

The big ScienceBlogs brouhaha over selling a blog to Pepsico was fun — in the sense that watching a trainwreck can be called fun. The best roundup of links and a decent explanation of what upset many of the bloggers over at SB is Oh, Pepsi, What Has Thou Wrought? by Carl Zimmer at Discover.

At first… now other bloggers are leaving SB too. Or going on strike. This is going to expand my science blogroll, because now I can’t just use the SB blogroll to easily get to them.

I’m going to miss ScienceBlogs. It was great while it lasted.


Feb 28 2010

MSNBC Aims For The Hysteria Channel Niche

Tag: Science, Medicine, etc.,stupidityDonna B. @ 3:04 am

I saw the headline “Is nature out of control?” earlier today and read the story which now bears the headline, Big quake question: Are they getting worse?

I thought the following was seriously stupid, considering the age of the earth:

One scientist, however, says that relative to the time period from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, Earth has been more active over the past 15 years or so. 

Even if that “one scientist” is a YEC, that’s some extrapolation extraordinaire.

Even though I’m not a geologist, my BS detector pegged on that one. At least one geologist, Erik Klemetti, apparently agrees – calling this type of headline “irresponsible, reprehensible “journalism” that the worst hacks should be ashamed to print.”

And I certainly agree with Mr. Klemetti’s final point:

The point here is that the Earth is an active place – and we have very short experience with seeing events on a global scale. Reckless speculation the likes of which MSNBC (and LiveScience) partook in should be a warning of how the media still has a long way to come when it comes to reporting the facts rather than the hysteria of the natural world.

 

 


Feb 23 2010

Henrietta Lacks, Immortal

Tag: books,History,non-fiction,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 5:18 pm

It is the vitality of Henrietta Lacks and her descendants that captured my imagination while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

It’s just a darned good story and it pushes all my “I want to read that” buttons – lively characters, science, mystery, public policy and politics, genealogy, plus a few I’ve probably not yet identified.

When you finish a book with a feeling you know some of the characters, and wishing you could visit further with them, you know it’s been worth your time. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s just that good.


Feb 04 2010

Vaccine-Autism Study Retracted

Tag: pet peeves,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 5:26 am

The Lancet has retracted Andrew Wakefield’s study that linked autism to the MMR vaccine. Not only subsequent research been unable to replicate Wakefield’s findings, but now the General Medical Council of the UK has said that Wakefield’s conduct during the study was “unethical, contrary to the clinical interests of some of the children included in the research“.

This is good news, but in the general atmosphere of woo-acceptance, I’m afraid it’s too late. By about 12 years.

There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism in otherwise healthy children. None. Zero.

Orac, author of Respectful Insolence, has been faithfully battling autism and anti-vaccine quackery and other forms of unscientific, frankly silly, woo for several years now.

Tonight I battled woo on a personal level. I love my husband, but he’s so susceptible to believing “medical” advice… EXCEPT what his doctors tell him.  

If I stop eating tomatoes and potatoes, my arthritis won’t go away. If my husband starts taking alpha lipoic acid, his type II diabetes won’t be cured. Homeopathic remedies and the people who sell them are worthless.

If it were just my husband, I wouldn’t worry much. But it’s not. It’s seemingly everywhere I turn recently. And so much of the misinformation calls itself science, that one really has to be careful not to be misled.

arrggghh… I know this post doesn’t entirely make sense, but I’m not entirely free to explain all the run-ins I’ve had over the past several months with fads of woo.


Dec 12 2009

Saturday Surfing

*Buying cheap cheese is worse than buying no cheese at all. When you have no cheese, you don’t waste time, energy, and other ingredients trying to make it edible.

*I hate the scrolling twitter widget. I hate anything on a website that moves unless I tell it to.

*History’s First Redneck Mummy (lower left panel)

*I love my battery backup, because I hate power outages.

*Am I the only person who cannot manage to order a Pizza Hut pizza online? I’m beginning to think they want to be able to say they offer online ordering, but are actively discouraging anyone from ever using it.

* New study reveals most children are unrepentant sociopaths (via Retriever). And then they grow up and design scrolling, flashing widgets for websites or tests for “security” that can’t be passed. For a more scientific view, see The Science of Success.

*Speaking of pizza — a quick perusal of our buying habits over the past year says that this family orders pizza on average of once a month, and that approximately 25% of these orders coincide with having company. Yeah, I am just that lazy.

*Is it the least we can do? Buy Local, Act Evil. Just a thought here… but, if I buy the best that I can for the least amount of money, is that not also ecologically sound? (Note: I’m not saying I do this — see cheap cheese.)

*Tundra. Just go, click, and scroll. That’s what I plan on doing for the next hour or so.


Nov 22 2009

The Case Of The Disappearing Cell Phone Batteries

Tag: humor,my family,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 3:04 am

Until yesterday, this was “the case of the disappearing cell phone battery” but now we are even more puzzled and in even greater need of someone of Nancy Drew’s sleuthing abilities.

My husband is known for many things, but not for his new-fangled electronic gadget knowledge. A little over a week ago he brought his cell-phone to me and impatiently and petulantly asked why it wouldn’t turn on.

My first response was “duh, the battery is dead” so I plugged it in to his charger, but didn’t hear the cutely annoying ditty his phone always played when plugged in. And, there was no “charging” indicator.

Hmmm… I said to myself. (I say this a lot, but that’s not important right now.)

Drawing on my years of electronic gadget knowledge, I decided that we should try the time-honored “trick” of pulling the battery out and putting it back in again. But, being a physically mechanically challenged individual, I couldn’t get the cover off the battery.

Where brute force is required to remove something, no one tops my husband (once a Marine always a Marine) and he said, “Give that to me.” So, I did and he got the cover off. I watched him do it.

And then he said, “There’s no battery in here.” Of course, I thought he simply didn’t recognize the shape and form of modern day batteries, expecting to find a 9-volt in there.

But, when he held the phone up where I could see it better, I discovered to my amazement that he was right! There was no battery in the phone!

With the power of a flash of lightning, I immediately knew that the lack of a battery was why the phone was NOT working. I’m amazing that way.

So, I ask dearest hubby why he took the battery out. He assures me he did not remove the battery. Then… because we are both old and doddering fools with less than perfect eyesight and reflexes… we figure the battery must have popped out when he took the cover off.

We were sitting in my office (otherwise known as the cave with the internet connection) when this took place and I’m a bit embarrassed to note that said battery could have popped off and been hidden anywhere.

Yep, my “office” defines clutter, trash, disarray, chaos, confusion, disorder, mess, litter, hodgepodge, and general mess. Being rational people, we figured that any place with more than an inch of undisturbed dust was not a likely spot for the battery to have landed. Thus our search area was somewhat defined.

We looked behind and underneath furniture, inside crates, laundry baskets, and other containers of “stuff” and we didn’t find the battery. We did find a discarded phone with a battery of the same size fitting the same charger and got the phone working again.

Yet, we remained puzzled. We ruminated over the time lapsed since the last call from or to that phone and who might have had access to it during that time. We called the one person we thought might know of a new trend of stealing batteries from phones… and endured the derision of the common sense thinking that suggested they would simply steal the entire phone.

And, we carefully examined the list of pranksters we know. Oh, yes… there are people we know who would delight in seeing us puzzled, bemused, confused, bewildered, baffled, rattled, and addled.

The worst part of this was that my dear loving untrusting husband considered me the prime suspect in this case. Maybe it was not quite so often, but it seemed to me that he asked at least seven times a day if I was yet ready to tell him where the battery was.

I swore, upon pain of everlasting blisters on my left little toe, that I had nothing to do with the disappearance of his cell phone battery. Finally, I think he came to believe me.

The most logical explanation he could come up with otherwise was that one of us was sleep-walking and had, um… perhaps, accidentally removed the battery. Except that he obviously thought that since I like sleeping so much, it must have been me doing the sleep-walking.

Not a chance, I countered. If I really wanted to mess with him I’d have hidden his keys and glasses. He countered that was silly because he couldn’t find those anyway. I had to concede he had a good point.

So… we come to yesterday. Saturday mornings my hubby and his biker friends regularly gather for breakfast, gossip, and tall tales. I regularly skip this meeting preferring sleep.

On the way home from this meeting… Mr. Coordinated (aka dear hubby) drops his cell phone in a public restroom. Now, he swears he saw it fall… and that that back did not fall off. He states, for the record, that when he was through with his business he put the cell phone back in it’s holder and that the battery cover was not loose.

A very few minutes later while on the interstate, he tries to make a call. Nothing happens. The phone is deader than a door nail. Knowing himself not to be a virtuous battery charger, he plugs the phone into the car charger.

Uh Oh. No melodious response, no lights, no cute graphic of a battery charging. Being a cautious man, he pulls over before he takes the cover off to discover there is — again – no battery in his phone.

Obviously this is not a fluke, as there is no sign of good luck to be found in this mystery.

Upon finding that a replacement battery cost $48 (since we’d run out of superflous phone batteries), my darling decided to purchase a new phone complete with battery for $29.95.    

If the battery in this new phone stays where it’s supposed to be, I supposed we’ll have to conclude that the other (refurbished, mind you) phone was haunted in some way.

UPDATE: One of the batteries has appeared in the comments. This is truly amazing, folks.


Aug 18 2009

Where The Socks Are

Tag: humor,Science, Medicine, etc.,sillinessDonna B. @ 10:00 pm

Rather, what socks are explains their behavior. As recently as 30 years ago, it was assumed dryers erratically connected with a parallel universe and socks went randomly back and forth, most being destroyed somehow in the transfer.

Now,  new theory explains why that is not necessarily true – Socks are Fermions:

I have come to the conclusion that socks are fermions, and that this explains much of the behavior of disappearing socks. (There may be other factors at play, of course) Clearly they are not bosons; you cannot make two socks occupy the same space: Put two socks on the same foot and they wll be layered, and there is a finite number you can fit into a washing machine or a dryer. Socks worn in the normal fashion are distinguishable by being on the left or right foot (or hand, in the case of the sock puppet effect; I won’t be discussing the very interesting Lamb-Chop-shift one can observe). The individual socks in a pair, however, are indistinguishable and they must have an antisymmetric wave function and thus obey Fermi-Dirac statistics and follow the Pauli exclusion principle.

Physics may well be on the way to solving this age-old mystery.


Jul 17 2009

Irony?

Or rubbing salt in a wound?

1902: With human comfort the last thing on his mind, a young mechanical engineer completes the schematic drawings for what will be the first successful air-conditioning system.

It was the effects of humidity on paper that he was trying to stabilize and I can assure that paper has been curling in my home the last few days. So has my hair.

Our new unit is on the way and hopefully installation will be completed by Monday evening. We’re not just getting the old one (aged 24) repaired, but installing an entirely new unit, including heat.

The heater part hasn’t worked right in 5 years or so, but that’s seldom a huge problem here.


May 01 2009

Average Jane Science Junkie

Tag: health,Science, Medicine, etc.,stupidityDonna B. @ 9:09 pm

I’m not a doctor or scientist, just a science junkie and have been ever since I picked up a Scientific American in 1983. As a result, I’m slightly better equipped than the average Jane when it comes recognizing woo.

About this same time, a co-worker gave me a book on homeopathy and well… you know at the time, parts of it almost made sense? A good background in English helped me out there as much as any knowledge of science. Bad writing often equals bad logic.

I was also influenced by my family doctor – John Ellis. Whether his research on B6 is worthy, I honestly don’t know, but he was a good GP. He didn’t prescribe B6 for anything I ever went to him for. He was basically a country doctor in a small town, who people called on for advice about their cattle as quickly as they did their children.

I wanted to believe that everyone promoting a vitamin or herbal remedy was the same kind of person — well-intentioned at the very least. That is simply not a workable everyday ideal. Some people are out to make a buck by selling you worthless concoctions or contraptions. Unfortunately some may even be harmful.

I have a nephew with severe autism and developmental disorders. He’s a beautiful boy and I was well aware of the anguish my brother-in-law and his wife were going through trying to help their daughter raise him. After seeing Jenny McCarthy on TV, I emailed them about her book. I didn’t research it, I was grasping at straws for them. While they may have read the book, they stuck with their doctors and never mentioned it to me. For that reprieve, I’m grateful.

Do you see how even a not really quite completely stupid person can be so easily taken in? I swear I’ve learned my lesson! I question everything now and try to apply what little learnin’ I’ve got. I thank Orac and PalMD (and others) for the lessons. In my defense, the episode about Jenny McCarthy I saw concerned restricting gluten, not blaming vaccines.

I remember waiting in line in the 50s for my polio vaccine. I remember older relatives who got the disease instead of the vaccine. No one has to convince me that vaccines are worthwhile. But gluten restriction? To a layman, that sounds like something sort of reasonable.

What do you do about people like me? I’m not an enemy of evidence-based medicine (though I am leery of government bureaucrats deciding what evidence is worthy) and I’m certainly not a believer in something as silly as crystals and pyramids. How do you get the word out to people who are basically like me, but not necessarily science junkies? Look how long, how much it took, for me to really learn to discern. (I must add that it’s anthropology that really grabs my interest.)

Most of the stuff on HuffPo that Orac and PalMd post about would not fool me. My goodness, these people are not only scientifically illiterate, but also logically illiterate to the point that anyone with a minimal understanding of the logic of language should be able to see through their non-valid arguments.

I should also point out that I don’t necessarily agree with scientists about everything. I often wonder how their superior abilities at logic lead them to lean strongly toward the left politically. This doesn’t mean I’m right wing (because their logic is also less than superior, IMHO). Basically, I can’t find a political ideology that fits my ideas. Perhaps I’m a centrist, if that can mean I find both “sides” equally unappealing.

This post is probably no help at all in the quest to find a way to present evidence-based science to the general public, but I hope that it will give the scientists some idea of how at least one small part of the public reasons.


Apr 24 2009

The Genesis Secret

The book is due out in the U.S. in a few days. I was fortunate to have been given a paperback of the UK release by my sister on her recent visit to the U.S. When she gave it to me, she warned “it’s gory and graphic, but I think you’ll like it.”

Gory it is. I’d give it a 10 on the gore scale as it is a book that contains chapters you might not want to read while eating. The methods of torture (not necessarily used to gain information, but used to prolong the suffering of death) aren’t new. They are likely accurate descriptions, which is more chilling than if they were made up.

What is distinctly NOT made up is the archaeology in the book. Gobekli Tepe definitely exists and the linkages between it’s location and biblical events are fairly well documented, extremely interesting, and intriguing.

Christian fundamentalists and young earth creationists are going to hate this book. While the link between Gobekli Tepe and the Yezedis is somewhat tenuous as presented, the idea of the evolution of ancient religions and myths is not. If Gobekli Tepe is “the Garden of Eden” of old, it’s certainly been upgraded many times.

It’s been well over a month since I read this book and I still find myself wondering about ideas and simple facts brought up in it. Whether you love it or hate it, this book will likely stay with you. 


Mar 29 2009

Sunday Cruising

Tag: art,computers & internet,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 2:32 pm

If you’re not reading Behind The Stick every weekend, you’re missing out. 

Amba is blogging hot right now. Just keep scrolling, you’ll find everything from anthropology to zoology. Her comments are very good too. Just skip any made by me.  

Art and Mirrors.

Men and Belly Button Lint.

Sippican Cottage (whose furniture I want) is running a series called Whose House. Check out the essays while you’re there, he’s always interesting.

Having trouble comprehending the magnitude of the bailouts, stimulus, and budget? Assistant Village Idiot puts it into perspective.

How the International Space Station Crew prepares and eats peanut butter and honey.

Lucy in the Sky with Lemons.

Let’s end on this note: Follodor and Farts.


Mar 24 2009

Helmets And Closed Head Injuries

Tag: brains,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 9:25 pm

The death of Natasha Richardson has spurred many comments about what might have prevented her death. One of those memes is “if only she had worn a helmet” is, perhaps, misleading.

What is not addressed is the problem of coup-contrecoup brain injuries. Helmets do little to alleviate head injuries of this type.

Please read this post and the following thread for a good explanation of why helmets help sometimes and don’t help others: A simple bump on the head can kill you. Read the comments for the full story.

I think that there is a reluctance to admit that helmets do not prevent all, or even all types, of head injuries because it’s thought that people won’t wear them if they don’t work 100% of the time.

The other side of that argument is that people who wear helmets may think they are protected to an extent they can take risks they ordinarily wouldn’t.

The take-home message here is to always wear a helmet and to always be careful because a helmet can only protect you against some head injuries, not all.


Feb 05 2009

The Rightful Place Of Science

Tag: politics,Science, Medicine, etc.Donna B. @ 2:58 am

Since that phrase was uttered in Obama’s Inaugural speech, much has been written about what that rightful place should be.

My personal take is that science should be near the top. It epitomizes (or should, at least) logical thinking. Logical thinking comes in handy no matter the discipline, so science should be teaching us logic in all things. At least the most important things that impact our daily lives.

Science Blogs took the question seriously and many of the contributors there have offered their comments. You’ll find my comments in several of their posts.

It should be pointed out that I am science junkie. I’ve been one since the early 1980s when my son’s closed head injury sent me to the medical library at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. At that point in time, all I wanted to do was understand the reports of his CT scans, and later, his MRIs.

I learned the parts of the brain, from Wernicke’s area to the substantia nigra quite easily. It’s like reading a map in a way. I understood the reports about the significant and diffuse areas of injury that suggested that he might never speak or walk again. Thankfully, he proved those prognoses wrong. He does not walk perfectly or speak/communicate perfectly and his anxiety at realizing he doesn’t isn’t shown on a CT or MRI scan.

Innate curiosity took over from there. How can one learn just a little bit without wondering what came before and what might come afterwards? And how does this relate to seemingly unrelated things?

Thus began my on-again, off-again subscribtion to Scientific American. It’s recently been mostly off-again because of ScienceBlogs and ScienceDaily.

All of this leads to the most important statement I want to make:

SCIENCE IS IMPORTANT TO ME.

Because it is important, I am disgusted with poor science, science which aims primarily at a monetary result, and woo – science which is just junk – and closely related to making money over advancing knowledge. With all this in mind, I am linking the best of the responses (IMHO) of the ScienceBlogger’s answers to the “rightful place” of science (in no particular order):

Pure Pedantry - Science can tell us what is and in some cases what might be, but it cannot tell us what ought to be. Science can make us intelligent, but it cannot make us wise.

Neurotopia 2.0 – Science needs a voice. A voice of reason, a voice of information. So when the government, or your friend down the street is trying to make a decision, it won’t just be gut instinct. It will be feelings, AND science, AND social considerations, AND economics. And based on all of these factors, a decision can be reached. When science is included, I feel that decision is more likely to be beneficial. The place of science may not be at the very top. But it should at least be in the cabinet. And it should definitely be in the classrooms.

Not Exactly Rocket Science – This difference, between “Science: the Details” and “Science: the Principles is crucial to me. Lacking the former deprives you of knowledge; lacking the latter deprives you of the tools with which to acquire knowledge. The details are what most people think of when they think of science, and they view them as the provinces of geeks and boffins. The principles are a way of thinking, whether people think about it or not, and they are everywhere.

Respectful Insolence - The U.S. still has a healthy scientific endeavor, and the government is not the be-all and end-all of science. Unfortunately, the logo and the concept behind the Rightful Place Project seem to imply that it is, particularly given that President Obama’s statements about science were the inspiration for the project.

Let’s get one thing straight right here: “Revitalizing” science, whatever that means, does not depend upon government. It does not depend upon Barack Obama. There is no doubt that the government is very important as a funder of science, particularly biomedical science, and that the President can do a lot to support science in the U.S., but it is Americans doing science who determine how vital the scientific endeavor in this country is, not the government.

Corpus Callosum - What is being asked is this: help define the rightful place of science in our world.  The answer is this: Literature, Science, and the Arts.  The three noble human endeavors.  Each necessary; none sufficient; each overlapping; none mutually exclusive.

Science is one leg of the three-legged table that elevates all mental sustenance out of the mud. 

AND that, my friends, ends this inquiry into the rightful place of science. However, I’d like to submit an afterthought of my own:

Science is not well served by today’s popular media, be it television, internet, or print. Too much hoopla and too much hype. Were we to listen entirely to popular media, we’d think obesity is caused by a virus and we’re all doomed because of miniscule detectable amounts of mercury in high fructose corn syrup.

Where do you think the rightful place of science is? Could it possibly be in the pages of our newspapers, TV stations, and their websites? Nah… real science isn’t that good for scary headlines.

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