Category Archives: Science

The 2019 Ig Nobel Prizes

Several readers informed me that the 2019 Ig Nobel Prizes, for research that is supposed to make you “LAUGH and then THINK”, were awarded yesterday at a ceremony at Harvard University. While yesterday’s ten awards aren’t yet summarized on the official website. Most of the publicity in the press was about the anatomy prize, which […]

Do we need Nobel Prizes in science?

This article by Ed Yong in The Atlantic is almost two years old, but I hadn’t seen it before—or at least I don’t remember reading it. Reader Bryan, who sent me the link (click on screenshot for a free read), says it’s “pretty good”, and, indeed, it’s about the best critique of Nobel Prizes I […]

The Great Science Publishing Scandal

by Matthew Cobb Earlier this week, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme I made, along with producer Deborah Cohen, about how scientific publishing works, the problems associated with it, and why everyone should be concerned about it. Click on this picture and you will be able to listen to the programme from anywhere in the […]

Five Books: Adam Hart-Davis’s choice of the best books on popular science

Adam Hart-Davis is an English writer, photographer, and broadcaster, known for being the presenter of several popular BBC series. In a Five Books piece (click on screenshot below), Hart-Davis lists and discusses what he sees as the five best popular-science books. According to the site, “Adam Hart-Davis says clear simple writing is the key to […]

In which Ken Miller and I defend Francis Collins against the religious Right

I never thought that I’d be on the same side as biologist Ken Miller when it comes to issues of science and religion. But we are this time, in an article by Kimberly Leonard in The Washington Examiner (click on screenshot below). It’s about Right-wing religionists calling for Dr. Francis Collins to be fired as […]

Science magazine conflates social movements with scientific breakthroughs

Reader Bryan called my attention to Science magazine’s contest in which readers can vote for the scientific breakthroughs of the year. As the site says (click on screenshot below): It’s that time of the year again: Science’s reporters and editors are homing in on the Breakthrough of the Year, our choice of the most significant scientific […]

Are some truths not worth knowing?

I was listening for the first time to the famous “Four Horseman” video discussion with Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, and noted that, near the end, they discuss the possibility that some scientific facts might not be worth knowing, or even be dangerous to know. (Dan mentions determinism, though he doesn’t […]

NYT article on duck hearing

This New York Times Science article discusses recent work on duck hearing, research done with the aim of creating underwater signals to keep diving ducks away from fishing nets. (The problem is that the range of duck hearing overlaps that of fish.) Click on the screenshot to read the article, but be SURE to watch […]

Shermer on consciousness, free will, and God

The latest Scentific American has a short column by Michael Shermer on why he thinks consciousness, free will, and God are “insoluble mysteries”. Click on the screenshot to read the piece.   When I read it, I jotted down some thoughts that took issue with Shermer’s notion that all three are “insoluble”, and sent a […]

Claire Lehmann and Debra Soh dismantle John Horgan’s indictment of sexism in science

The mandatory disclaimer first: I’m not claiming that science is free of sexism. No area in which men labor is, since there are always some sexist men. I would argue, though, that we’re doing our best to free the discipline of sexism (most hiring committees, for example,  have a keen look-out for women candidates, and […]