A key Democratic lawmaker is seeking an expanded inquiry into whether fossil-fuel companies have been secretly underwriting the research of some of the country’s most prominent scientific skeptics of climate change.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D- Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent requests to seven universities asking for detailed records on the funding sources for affiliated researchers who have opposed the scientific consensus on man-made… Read more
Recently I attended the conference of a major learned society in the humanities. I was only there for a day, and attended only two sessions: one as a panelist and the other as an observer. Both sessions dealt with issues related to Open Access (OA), and in both of them I was deeply taken aback by the degree to which the scholars in attendance—not universally, but by an overwhelming majority—expressed… Read more
For decades, many dietary recommendations have revolved around consuming a low percentage of your daily calories from fat. It has been widely thought that doing so would reduce your chance of having coronary heart disease. Most of the evidence for that recommendation has come from epidemiologic studies, which can be flawed.
Use of these types of studies happens far more often than we would like, leading to dietary guidelines that… Read more
Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation are very familiar with the Borg, a society of cybernetic individuals linked together in a collective mindset. The Borg navigate the universe in cube-shaped spacecraft actively seeking members of other races to absorb into their collective. Whenever others oppose their efforts, the Borg let them know, in no uncertain terms, that “resistance is futile” and they will be assimilated. Without context, however, this… Read more
Our planet has entered a period in which climate is changing more rapidly than ever experienced in recorded human history, primarily caused by the rapid build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists have identified a number of risks from changing climate, including rising sea level, drought, heat waves, more severe storms, and increasing precipitation intensity and associated disruption of terrestrial and aquatic… Read more
The “everything” I had in mind was all formally published academic journals. That means peer-reviewed material, but it excludes open access publications (since you don’t have to pay to read them). Also excluded for this exercise are books, databases, and other content types that mostly sit outside the bulk of discourse about scholarly communications. You will see in a minute just how complicated the original question is, but I had… Read more
Paul Offit likes to tell a story about how his wife, pediatrician Bonnie Offit, was about to give a child a vaccination when the kid was struck by a seizure. Had she given the injection a minute sooner, Paul Offit says, it would surely have appeared as though the vaccine had caused the seizure and probably no study in the world would have convinced the parent otherwise. (The Offits have… Read more
A recent survey from the Pew Research Institute revealed troubling trends in how science is doing, and showed that the public and scientists are far apart on many basic questions, from whether humans have evolved over time (only 65% of the public agrees, compared to 98% of scientists), to whether it’s safe to eat genetically modified foods (88% of scientists think so, but only 37% of the public agrees).
There… Read more
When the Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000, the rallying cry was around the need for more development aid. As international institutions coalesce around the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, it is likely there will be a heavy emphasis on the role of science and technology in achieving them.
Through the post-WWII history of efforts to alleviate global poverty, a small number of breakthrough technologies have had transformative impact: the… Read more