Weekly Roundup

Project SETI for the search of extraterrestrial life is to close down due to financial difficulties. Paul Davies, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, said “it would be an utter tragedy if a unique research programme is abandoned for the cost of a few miles of motorway … Our society squanders vast sums on trivia and entertainment, yet cannot find some small change to address the burning issue of whether we are alone in the universe,” The Guardian reports.

David Bruggeman discusses whether an alleged “muzzling” of Canadian scientists in the media is an issue for the Canadian elections.


What can HPSers do for society? What is socially relevant HPS?

History and Philosophy of Science, even by academic standards, is a somewhat obscure discipline of the humanities.  The march of science and technology often seems to proceed regardless of any commentary, critique, or analysis from historians, philosophers, sociologists, and even policymakers. So why think there is any potential for a history and philosophy of science to become “socially relevant”?…

Weekly Roundup

Leading philosophy journal Synthese has published a mostly critical issue on creationism and intelligent design. The editors in chief added a disclaimer in the printed issue about some of the articles’ allegedly inappropriate tone. This has lead blogger-philosopher Brian Leiter to call for a boycott of Synthese for giving in to creationists’ pressure, and some more criticism and reactions on the blogosphere.

Is contemporary military science fiction a neoliberal simplification of the complex reality of war?

Is science policy an issue in the Canada 2011 election?

Top 40 science questions for U.S. conservation policy makers. Well, almost.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson says that scientific innovation and policy should work together.…

Weekly Roundup

Scientists solve a problem that has perplexed philosophers for 300 years. And here is a link to the actual paper.

Scientists from the Weiztman Institute of Science storm the Tel Aviv pub scene to tell its party animals about the wonders of science.

A duet from space.

How did language evolve and how much technology design is constrained on BBC’s Science in Action.

Will the Internet collapse the ivory tower?

The Ivory Tower


Weekly Roundup

Philip Kitcher has a new article calling for philosophy to expand its concern beyond the traditional core of metaphysics and epistemology. The Leiter Report has an extensive discussion of his paper, including responses from Kitcher.

Eric Schliesser responds to an essay by Robert and Virginia Shiller about the overspecialization of economics. Schliesser responds that economists don’t just need to learn more facts about the world, they need to examine the foundational assumptions of their discipline.

Will climate change affect nuclear security?

Somatosphere has audio recordings of a panel from the Society of Psychological Anthropology on “Political Subjectivity”.

Andy Stirling argues that science can give us no simple answers regarding the choice between nuclear and renewable energy.…

Is this the era of personalizable medicine?

Physicians are trained in a science of particulars. Your bodily experiences might be unique, your preferences deserving of personal care, and your history worthy of a docudrama… but the medical evidence at your bedside was gathered in a freeze-framed panorama: randomized, controlled, and blinded. This is the science of particulars: big-picture studies that have to be individualized for you. And me. This is evidence-based medicine.

But how does this landscape represent you — person and patient?

Lets begin with semantics. What’s the difference between patient-centered, person-centered, and personalized medicine?

Patient-centered medicine revitalizes a patient’s values, preferences, and autonomy. It brings respect for patient decisions back into the clinical equation.

Person-centered medicine treats patients as… persons. Persons can suffer, worry, and hope unlike their objectified and medicalized counterparts: diseased patients.

Personalized medicine aims to truly be that science of particulars: customizing diagnoses, treatments, and prognoses based on your unique biological (i.e. genetic) architecture. Your SNPs have so much to say.

Do any of these epistemic stances make medicine more than just personalized, but personalizable? I’m not so sure. Lets leave that up for debate.…

Weekly Roundup

National Geographic collects photos representative of humanity’s impact on the environment, which is so pervasive that the term “anthropocene” is now being used to describe the current geological epoch.

Public controversy is erupting again over the nearly exclusive use of male mice as a model organism for medical research, especially since they are still used, more often than not, to conduct research into diseases disproportionately affecting women.

NASA’s 30-year-long space shuttle program wraps up this summer. To pre-empt expected upcoming patriotic retrospectives, The Mark’s Jordan Bimm explores the shuttle’s checkered past.

Forbes reports that J. Craig Venter’s team was sued by the estate of James Joyce for encoding “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life” into their synthetic DNA; their inclusion of a Richard Feynman quote, on the other hand, merely earned them a correction from Caltech (via Marginal Revolution).

Errol Morris responds to some of the criticisms of his New York Times “Ashtray” blog.

Chris Mooney at Discover Magazine asks if scientists have “public literacy“.

Judy Sebba asks, What can academic researchers learn from think tanks?