Adam Rutherford's amazing book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived is on shelves in the USA now; debunking the absurd claims made by genetics testing companies -- claims about your distant relationship to ancient kings or the percentage of your genes that came from Vikings.
Read the rest
The Conservative Party -- and free market ideologues -- have waged a long war on "safety culture," insisting it was a nonsensical, incoherent regulation that acted as a drag on every business except no-win/no-fee lawyers, who exploited these rules to victimise poor corporations with punishing lawsuits. Read the rest
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee put out a public call for suggestions on subjects it should investigate and one of the three winning pitches came from Stephanie Mathisen, campaigns and policy officer at Sense about Science, who suggested an inquiry into transparency in algorithmic decision-making. Read the rest
Chris from Sense About Science writes, "Nominations are now open for the 2016 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science. Now in its fifth year, the prize recognises the work of an individual anywhere in the world who promotes sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest, facing difficulty or hostility in doing so." Read the rest
Chris from Sense About Science writes, "Had trouble sleeping recently? This week Ask for Evidence is turning its attention to the multitude of claims about sleep -- how you should be doing it, what you should be wearing for it, what you should be doing it on. First up is Ben, who got the NHS to change the advice on its website after asking them for evidence about claims that not getting enough sleep could make you obese. (It turns out it's a little more nuanced than they first suggested)." Read the rest
Chris from Sense About Science sez, "Thundersnow, willy-willys and the hottest/coldest seasons on record, there's certainly no shortage of headlines about the weather. But many meteorological terms we hear are misused, say early career researchers." Read the rest
In the 2015 Sense About Science lecture (MP3), Tracey Brown discusses the worst casualty of politicization of science, from fluoride to climate change -- the truth. Read the rest
It's true that people with substance abuse problems can "detox" when they get clean, but the kind of "detoxing" offered by stuff in the grocery store or pharmacy has no basis in science and is just a scammy way to scare you into opening your wallet (the companies that sell "detox" can't even say what "toxins" they're getting rid of). Read the rest
"Health and Safety" is the all-purpose excuse for any stupid, bureaucratic, humiliating rubbish that officialdom wants to shove down our throats. In the Interests of Safety
, from Tracey Brown and Michael Hanlon, is the antidote: an expert dismantling of bad risk-analysis and a call-to-arms to do something about it, fighting superstition and silliness with evidence.
Victoria from Sense About Science writes, "International Clinical Trials Day is on Tuesday May 20th but half of all clinical trials have never been published and some have not even been registered. Help the AllTrials.net petition get to 100,000 signatures by International Clinical Trials Day and end the era of secrecy.
Hundreds of thousands of people participated in these trials. If action is not taken urgently, information on what was done and what was found in trials could be lost forever, leading to bad treatment decisions, missed opportunities for good medicine and trials being repeated unnecessarily.
Sign and share the petition at AllTrials.net. Tweet #AllTrials." Read the rest
Victoria from the UK's Sense About Science writes in with news about its Ask For Evidence campaign, a structured system for demanding evidence of sciencey-sounding claims from governments and companies, such as claims that wheatgrass drinks accomplish something called "detox" (whatever that is). The campaign has been remarkably successful to date, and they're looking for people to carry the work on in their own lives. Read the rest
Sense About Science is a UK non-profit aimed at making science more understandable to the public. Right now, they're hosting a virtual plant science panel, where you can submit questions directly to scientists and see them answered on the Sense About Science website. What topics are fair game? Just about anything plant-related, from "Ash Dieback disease, to GM crops, bees to pesticides, mycotoxins in food to biofuels." Some answers are up already! (Via Mark Lynas) Read the rest
The UK's Sense About Science charity surveyed some of last year's science-related boners pulled by celebrities. From New Scientist:
Did you know that when you eat meat, it stays in your gut for 40 years, putrefies and leads to a disease that kills you? "That is a fact," according to the model and charity campaigner Heather Mills...
Other celebs have been pulled up this year for apparently not realising that natural substances such as hormones are chemicals, and that ovulation is suppressed naturally by pregnancy and prolonged breastfeeding. Actress Suzanne Somers, for example, was quoted as saying that the contraceptive pill must be unsafe "because is it safe to take a chemical every day, and how would it be safe to take something that prevents ovulation?"
Actor Roger Moore, meanwhile, was taken to task for claiming that foie gras causes Alzheimer's disease, and Sarah Palin for dismissing evolution.
"Politicians and celebrities shamed for science gaffes" (New Scientist)
"Celebrities and Science 2009" (Sense About Science) Read the rest