This week's stuff is pretty heavily communication-themed; a lot of that is going around with the ScienceOnline 2013 deal having gone down. Anywhere, here's some general science enjoyment:
- Chemophobia has been a major topic of the social-media-dom recently due to the ScienceOnline 2013 conference. In particular, Saturday marked the chemophobia-specific portion of the conference (Session 8A), which included a contemporaneous Twitter discussion via the hashtag #chemophobia. For those who had to work this Saturday (woo, columns, woo) the session notes have been posted online, and there's a quite impressive wiki entry containing an abundance of relevant and interesting chemophobia-related links and discussions.
- Michelle at The Culture of Chemistry has a thoughtful analysis of a recent chemophobia-rife New York Times story; she points to language and how it affects perception of concepts.
- Paul at ChemBark shares his tips and proposed strategies for how to combat chemophobia. It's a good read that sums up the origins and dangers of chemophobia pretty well. The recommendations are good, too: ACS should be doing its part (come on, guys!) but graduate students and faculty need to take it upon themselves to do outreach, regardless of the perceived waste of time. (That being said, the hostile intellectual atmosphere and the rough job market make spending any time on outreach seem unappealing to those trying to get as many ninth-author Tet. Lett. papers as possible published before graduating).
- Don't miss this latest Chemjobber podcast, wherein he discusses chemophobia and chemical communication with freelance writer/chemist Rebecca Guenard.
- See Arr Oh pokes fun at general features of chemistry blog entries.
- I found this guest post by Frank Swain both insightful and heartening. He writes of his UK-based BenchPress Project, which seeks, among other things, to have volunteer scientists give guest lectures to journalism students. The goal is to increase science and math (maths) literacy among journalists. I think it's a pretty important effort; even if scientists themselves try to do outreach and writing, journalists have the broadest audience and the means to reach them. Changes in science communication have to come from within both sectors!
- David Rubenson argues that despite a growing need for science communication, the quality of science communication has been in decline. He points to several symptoms (e.g. cluttered slides) and causative agents (e.g. overstretched researchers). I found significant his reference to two Nobelists who published infrequently (also, it reminded me of Daniel Day-Lewis).
- Always-interesting and often-controversial, Keith Kloor discusses the relative importance of general science literacy and news literacy. He argues for the importance of the latter (while not neglecting the former); in particular, he calls for news literacy to have a place in education. It shouldn't be an unfamiliar concept to scientists, who (should) be experienced at evaluating credibility of sources.
- UIUC anthropologist and science blogger Kate Clancy has an interesting piece (relevant to anyone who uses social media, especially those who write) about the pros and cons of filling out your online presence with your real identity.
Pseudoscience and denialism
- Notorious TV doctor Dr. Oz has received some negative limelight this week. Derek Lowe, for instance, responds to a recent New Yorker profile by commenting quite frankly (and accurately) on the gross degree of subjectivity and religiosity purveyed by Oz. Lowe is probably preaching to the choir, but he makes a very strong argument by pointing out that the institution of medicine, which is responsible for Oz's success, was decided not a post-modernist, choose-your-own-facts endeavor. Orac is not pleased, not surprisingly, and criticizes Dr. Oz's recent endorsement of homeopathy. In the vein of homeopathy, this video is relevant and amusing. Lastly, see this quick list of some downright wrong beliefs peddled by the good doctor.
- Moving from medicine to sports, read a brief account of some pseudoscientific nonsense from athletes.
- Amazingly, the teaching of evolution is still threatened by denialists the world over. It's a big problem in Turkey, for instance, where the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey has stopped publishing books that support the theory of evolution. Evolution has been in Turkey's crosshairs for a while. Meanwhile, here in the United States, we have Missouri House Bill 291 (titled the "Missouri Science Standard Act"). Read P.Z. Myers' breakdown of the legislation (which is in limbo). The bill is pretty frightening, pretty blantantly pro-creationism, and also terribly hypocritical. Also, Greg Laden points out a new anti-science bill in Arizona and the contrasting opposition to an anti-science bill in Montana.
- This week Brandon Findlay has been running a series of posts about column chromatography. It's a good introduction or a good refresher, so give them a read.
- Derek Lowe has an interesting take on drug names (and how they've changed!).
- Neuroscientist Jessica Carilli makes the case for grad school in light of recent discussions of the unhealthy aspects of graduate study as well as the abysmal scientific job market.
- It's not infrequent to hear people complain about the uselessness of certain research programs, or at least to insist that they're too expensive (if the financial benefits aren't immediately obvious). Pete Etchells comments on NASA and the Curiosity rover, arguing against these viewpoints and giving some examples of how NASA technology has been repurposed for wide benefit.
- Maryn McKenna explores the poultry industry: specifically, how lack of transparency leads to unsustainable antibiotic use practices that contribute to widespread antibiotic resistance.
[Edit: I forgot Brandon Findlay's columns week! Urp!]