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Beware a closing of the British mind if we abandon European endeavours | Nick Cohen 11 Jan 1:30pm Beware a closing of the British mind if we abandon European endeavours | Nick Cohen
Post-Brexit, we should be wary of spurning joint projects in science and educationLeaving the EU will produce the greatest loss of freedom since the Second World War. The freedom of businesses to trade with Europe dominates politics. But I suspect the loss of the freedom of the individual to live and work where they want in the EU, to fall in love and bring home whoever they choose and, above all, the freedom to think and study what they will and where they please will be the hardest to bear. You can see Britain’s horizons shrinking. The Liberal Democrats attempted to force ministers to commit to keeping Britain in the
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The Guardian view on philanthropy and the bushfires: a reason to hope | Editorial 6 Jan 1:35pm The Guardian view on philanthropy and the bushfires: a reason to hope | Editorial
In an ideal world it would not be left to film stars to point to the science underlying the climate emergency“You are in no position to lecture the public about anything,” Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais told his audience in a pointedly irreverent opening speech on Sunday. By the evening’s end, following statements about the bushfires from actors including Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, he had apparently changed his mind – ending the evening with his own
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Sight loss research needs urgent investment | Letter 6 Jan 12:49pm Sight loss research needs urgent investment | Letter
Leading ophthalmologists call on the new government to develop a national plan to fight blindness and address the critical lack of fundingAs leading ophthalmologists and researchers we are joining the eye research charity Fight for Sight to call for urgent action on blindness in 2020 to address the research funding gap. We know that serious sight loss doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone at any time and it is on the increase. Science can already do so much and with the advent of new gene therapies and stem cell treatments we are so close to outcomes that were not possible a decade ago. Yet so much more needs to be done to develop new universal treatments.
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How I changed my mind about the biology of race | Philip Ball 26 Dec 2019, 9:00am How I changed my mind about the biology of race | Philip Ball
Angela Saini’s book Superior showed me our misconceptions about race and science arise from a habit of the mind It has been common for several years now to assert that science shows the concept of race has no biological basis, and that we must see it instead as a social construct. That case was argued, for example, by Kenan Malik in his 2008 book
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Science made astonishing progress. It was also hijacked by those with an axe to grind | Laura Spinney 26 Dec 2019, 5:00am Science made astonishing progress. It was also hijacked by those with an axe to grind | Laura Spinney
Attacks and scepticism are on the rise, even as leaps are made in fields from gene editing and AI to interplanetary explorationThe 2010s were the decade in which we were reminded that science is just a method, like the rhythm method. And just like the rhythm method, it can be more or less rigorously applied, sabotaged, overrated, underrated and ignored. If you don’t treat it with respect, you may not get the optimal result, but that’s not the method’s fault. That may be where the similarities end, because when it’s done well, science is very effective, and this decade furnished its fair share of breakthroughs to make us gasp. Physicists detected phenomena that were predicted decades ago –
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The UN climate talks ended in deadlock. Is this really the best the world can manage? | Aruna Chandrasekhar 21 Dec 2019, 3:00am The UN climate talks ended in deadlock. Is this really the best the world can manage? | Aruna Chandrasekhar
COP25 should have been about new science and ambitious targets. Instead, nations bickered and dodged responsibilityLast week, a whistle rang out in a buzzing conference fairground on the edge of Madrid. Instantly, a swell of protesters rose up, determined to “bring in the streets and tear down the walls”, enraged that the
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Gene editing will let us control our very evolution. Will we use it wisely? | Dan Rather 8 Dec 2019, 3:15am Gene editing will let us control our very evolution. Will we use it wisely? | Dan Rather
I’ve covered some of the biggest stories of our age, but this is the biggest and could change what it means to be human We live in a time when science and technology are having an impact on our society in more and more ways. And the decisions that shape how these new fields of knowledge develop ultimately affect all of us.
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The Guardian view on Labour and Tories: radical economics now the norm | Editorial 28 Nov 2019, 1:43pm The Guardian view on Labour and Tories: radical economics now the norm | Editorial
Whoever wins the election is likely to make sure that their heretical gamble will be vindicatedIs this election turning out to be a Lutheran moment for the Church of Economics? If one listens to the high priests of the dismal science it might seem so. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says neither the Conservatives nor Labour have produced a “
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After the failures of recent years, can the polls be trusted in 2019? | Patrick Sturgis 12 Nov 2019, 10:00am After the failures of recent years, can the polls be trusted in 2019? | Patrick Sturgis
Even with new models and methodologies, this election promises to be one of the toughest to call in living memory On 12 December the country faces its fourth election in a little under five years and, with the stakes so high, the opinion polls are the subject of a great deal of scrutiny and speculation. It is fair to say that pollsters have not covered themselves in glory recently, with failures of varying magnitudes in the last three national elections. So can we trust the polls in 2019, and what are some of the issues that poll watchers should look out for? In broad terms, the answer to the question of whether the polls can be trusted is a qualified yes. Will Jennings, professor of political science and public policy at the University of Southampton, has constructed
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The Guardian view on creativity in schools: a missing ingredient | Editorial 18 Oct 2019, 1:25pm The Guardian view on creativity in schools: a missing ingredient | Editorial
Imagination should infuse teaching of science as well as the arts. Children are not pitchers to be filled with factsYou can’t see it, smell it, hear it. People disagree on how, precisely, to define it, or where, exactly, it comes from. It isn’t a school subject or an academic discipline, but it can be learned. It is a quality that is required by artists. But it is also present in the lives of scientists and entrepreneurs. All of us benefit from it: we thrive mentally and spiritually when we are able to harness it. It is a delicate thing, easily stamped out; in fact, it flourishes most fully when people are playful and childlike. At the same time, it works best in tandem with deep knowledge and expertise. This mysterious – but teachable – quality is creativity, the subject of a
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The Guardian view on the polluters: days of reckoning | Editorial 11 Oct 2019, 1:30pm The Guardian view on the polluters: days of reckoning | Editorial
Fossil fuel companies have worked for decades to shape attitudes and undermine science. The crisis dictates that they must now be confrontedThe huge differences in the voting records of MPs on climate issues,
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In the twisted story of eugenics, the bad guy is all of us | Angela Saini 3 Oct 2019, 2:00am In the twisted story of eugenics, the bad guy is all of us | Angela Saini
Francis Galton is rightly criticised for advancing this immoral, racist non-science. But remember, his ideas were mainstreamHow should we remember historical figures who we know have done terrible things? It’s a dilemma we face more often, as universities and public institutions critically
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The Guardian view on a public health calamity: science facts need reinforcing | Editorial 29 Sep 2019, 1:47pm The Guardian view on a public health calamity: science facts need reinforcing | Editorial
Lives are being put at risk because discredited claims about vaccinations are being circulated without effective challenge. The truth urgently needs support in GP surgeries and onlineFreedom from fear of deadly disease is a luxury by historical standards, enjoyed by most British people. But luxury cultivates complacency. That is one explanation for a decline in the number of children receiving routine vaccinations. NHS data
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If world leaders choose to fail us, my generation will never forgive them | Greta Thunberg 23 Sep 2019, 10:38am If world leaders choose to fail us, my generation will never forgive them | Greta Thunberg
We are in the middle of a climate breakdown, and all they can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growthThis is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
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The polling industry doesn’t measure public opinion – it produces it | Richard Seymour 20 Sep 2019, 1:01am The polling industry doesn’t measure public opinion – it produces it | Richard Seymour
Most of us believe in public opinion, which makes polls a self-fulfilling prophecyThe polls keep coming, one after another. But the polls are all over the place. For example, they can’t agree on where the competing parties stand. One gives the Tories a 10-point lead, another gives Labour a 2% lead. Polling has never been an exact science, but political volatility, the growth of new polling firms and the extraordinary ubiquity of conflicting polls, has put it under new strains and new scrutiny. Polling was once a specialised sector of market research. Now it is a niche area of the much bigger data industry, using the same Bayesian techniques of probabilistic analysis that stock markets employ in financial forecasting. Its customers include huge financial firms that can extract commercial advantage from the slightest margin of predictive accuracy.
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Complex science surrounding genetics and homosexuality | Letters 6 Sep 2019, 12:37pm Complex science surrounding genetics and homosexuality | Letters
There is no simple dichotomy between genetic and environmental control of a trait, say
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Enid Blyton had racist views. But I still read her | Sian Cain 3 Sep 2019, 12:59am Enid Blyton had racist views. But I still read her | Sian Cain
Criticising past authors for their views doesn’t mean we must consign their books to the scrapheapIn 1965 the eminent American science-fiction writer John W Campbell wrote an essay titled The Barbarians Within. In it, he recommended that “the barbarian” – and it was clear he meant African Americans – be injected with cocaine and heroin in order to be kept under control. It was a plan that, he said, “has the advantage … of killing him both psychologically and physiologically, without arousing any protest on his part”. He also claimed that slavery was “a useful educational system”, supported segregation, and argued that “the Negro race” had failed to “produce super-high geniuses”. Black sci-fi writers were unable to “write in open competition” with whites. In 1960, Macmillan rejected her manuscript for The Mystery That Never Was on the grounds of xenophobia
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Insights... the high price successful working women pay | Torsten Bell 25 Aug 2019, 2:48am Insights... the high price successful working women pay | Torsten Bell
Research from Sweden shows that career success increases the likelihood of divorce for women but not men The world of work isn’t one of gender equality. You may have noticed. On average, women earn 18% less than men. Partly that’s because four in 10 of them work part time compared with one in 10 for men, but there’s still a 9% pay gap even just looking at full-time workers. Alongside any (illegal) pay discrimination, much of the gap is driven by women being underrepresented in higher-paying occupations. This isn’t about education – slightly more than half of the working-age population with a master’s degree are women but they make up just 32% of corporate managers and 21% of science and tech professionals.
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Butter substitutes: nut alternatives are popular – but why not try fatty fruits? 22 Aug 2019, 5:00am Butter substitutes: nut alternatives are popular – but why not try fatty fruits?
From cashews and olive oil to mashed carrot and prunes, replacements are everywhere, and they all have different advantages If you think too hard about food norms of the past, you will end up disbelieving all science and refusing to vaccinate your pets (
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The Guardian view on Trump and Greenland: no sale | Editorial 21 Aug 2019, 1:33pm The Guardian view on Trump and Greenland: no sale | Editorial
The great ice sheets are more valuable to the world than the oil that lies beneath themOne of the classic storylines of science fiction is the emergence of a mutant child, with powers far beyond those of adults and no understanding of their use. The theme is carried to its the extreme in Jerome Bixby’s story
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The Guardian view on ethics for mathematicians: an essential addition 18 Aug 2019, 1:25pm The Guardian view on ethics for mathematicians: an essential addition
Science may be morally neutral but scientists can’t be. They need to take seriously the ethical consequences of their work“‘Once the rockets ​are up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department’​, says Wernher von Braun,”
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Insights… economists reveal themselves to be as fallible as the rest of us | Torsten Bell 18 Aug 2019, 1:00am Insights… economists reveal themselves to be as fallible as the rest of us | Torsten Bell
They portray themselves as impartial and objective but a survey exposed their biases, unconscious or otherwiseMany economists put a lot of weight on the idea that their profession is unbiased and non-ideological. Over time, the discipline has focused on applying complicated maths to data, as part of a “positivist” movement seeking to claim economics as a “real science” where economists show what they have found, not what they think. Such self-perception coexisted with the critique of less mainstream economists that the profession has an ideological bias, generally rightwing. Markets work, humans are self-interested, the state messes things up, and so forth. The latest salvo from proponents of the latter view, including Ha-Joon Chang, Cambridge University’s prominent opponent of mainstream economics, comes via creative new research.
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The Guardian view on treating Ebola: science is the start | Editorial 14 Aug 2019, 1:25pm The Guardian view on treating Ebola: science is the start | Editorial
Researchers have developed and trialled drugs that can cure this deadly disease. The problem now is to deliver themThis week has seen a heartening triumph of medical science: Ebola is now curable, doctors say. The announcement is also a timely one. The outbreak in the war-ravaged territories of the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which began over a year ago, has defied the sustained efforts to halt it. Last month, with the death toll above 1,600 people, the World Health Organization declared it an emergency of international concern. The even deadlier West African epidemic of 2014 killed more than 11,000 people before it was extinguished, having prompted fear around the world. The high death rate and agonising nature of the deaths all add to the virus’s terrors. So the news that two
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How do you know whether you can trust poll results? Here’s what to watch out for | Rob Vance 13 Aug 2019, 10:13am How do you know whether you can trust poll results? Here’s what to watch out for | Rob Vance
The industry adage is that if it looks to good to be true it’s probably wrong. But the data reveals what’s really going on With the science of opinion polling under greater scrutiny
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Christian Science, medicine and prayer | Letter 12 Aug 2019, 12:23pm Christian Science, medicine and prayer | Letter
Robin Harragin Hussey
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For women like me, postponing the menopause would be a blessing | Sonia Sodha 11 Aug 2019, 1:02am For women like me, postponing the menopause would be a blessing | Sonia Sodha
Scientific advances that prolong fertility can only be a benefit to many would-be mothers Let us imagine for a moment that we lived in a world where male fertility dropped off a cliff by the time men hit their mid 40s, leaving a group of men who wanted to have children but couldn’t. When would science have produced a fix? I am going to hazard a guess that it would have been quite some time ago. But it has taken until 2019 for a fledgling treatment to delay the menopause by up to 20 years to be offered to women, even though the idea has been around for
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Rollout of 5G and the risk of harm | Letters 28 Jul 2019, 1:06pm Rollout of 5G and the risk of harm | Letters
There is a lot of science demonstrating plausible risk of harm from electromagnetic fields, says
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Imperfect science of intensive farming | Letters 23 Jul 2019, 12:51pm Imperfect science of intensive farming | Letters
Intensive farming does not represent the best use of our agricultural land, says
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Science helps us to produce cheap and plentiful food | Letters 21 Jul 2019, 12:29pm Science helps us to produce cheap and plentiful food | Letters
Readers give their views on the effects of pesticides on farming and the environmentCaroline Lucas (
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No getting out of chemistry classes | Brief letters 9 Jul 2019, 1:27pm No getting out of chemistry classes | Brief letters
GCSE science | Carry On films | Apt surnames | Clueless crosswords | Not enough womenThe idea that a state school can “scrap” GCSE chemistry because “the lab is expensive to maintain” (
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How do we combat the global measles revival? It’s a matter of trust | Charlie Weller 20 Jun 2019, 3:00am How do we combat the global measles revival? It’s a matter of trust | Charlie Weller
Our report shows that lower vaccination rates are linked to a lack of trust in institutions in general, not just in science
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Female academics are too scarce. So we’re banning job applications from men | Frank Baaijens 19 Jun 2019, 12:48pm Female academics are too scarce. So we’re banning job applications from men | Frank Baaijens
At Eindhoven University we’ve tried many ways to take on more female engineers, to no avail. Time for drastic measuresEngineering has a huge impact on society. To responsibly advance science and technology, a university should be a balanced reflection of society. As a top engineering university we believe that diversity and inclusiveness is crucial for the quality of our teaching and research. More than that, we believe we can turn a fully representative academic workforce into a unique strength. This is why, from 1 July, all our job vacancies will be exclusively open to female candidates for the first six months after they are advertised. This is certainly a radical step, as the international
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Was your mother a narcissist? And other questions a dating app should ask | Emma Brockes 6 Jun 2019, 11:12am Was your mother a narcissist? And other questions a dating app should ask | Emma Brockes
I wonder what a truly honest dating questionnaire would look like – it could be almost too unpalatable to bearSummer makes some single people think of going on dates, and a slew of friends have recently signed up for dating apps. The “science” of the algorithms behind these services is always being updated but the underlying presumptions seem to stay broadly the same: assuming that it doesn’t all come down to the photo, you can find a good match by identifying the things you like, and finding someone who likes them too. “Like” in this context tends to stick to a few well-lit areas. “Jerry, let’s not tell our sad stories,” says Renée Zellweger in the famous line from
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Mummy, where do bigots come from? | Brief letters 4 Jun 2019, 12:03pm Mummy, where do bigots come from? | Brief letters
Homophobia | Packaging-free shops | Neil Hughes | Trampolining | Railway arches | BirthdaysIf science can be used to help understand people’s sexuality (
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Kitchen experiments with the kids – just the thing for half-term 30 May 2019, 3:00am Kitchen experiments with the kids – just the thing for half-term
Edible slime, jelly worms, ‘unicorn noodles’: what better way to entertain children than by making a mess in the name of science?The last time I did science in the home with an 11-year-old, something happened that I can’t tell you about until the person whose chair it was has died. That is my abiding conclusion about the natural sciences: they stain, and don’t let anybody ever tell you they won’t. Nevertheless, I have just undertaken science in the kitchen – nudged by a new book,
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Marriage and children don’t always make women happy. Who knew? | Suzanne Moore 27 May 2019, 1:12pm Marriage and children don’t always make women happy. Who knew? | Suzanne Moore
Should Prof Paul Dolan’s pronouncements change the way we think about life? Er … Some of my best friends are in a subgroup: “unmarried and childless women”. Its members, according to a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, are the “happiest subgroup in the population”.
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Life on Mars? Sorry Brian Cox, that’s still science fiction | Philip Ball 26 May 2019, 9:35am Life on Mars? Sorry Brian Cox, that’s still science fiction | Philip Ball
The utopian vision of humans colonising the red planet to solve our energy and population crises is a misguided fantasy Who said this? “I’ve been having to say everywhere I go that there is no planet B, there is no escape hatch, there is no second Earth; this is the only planet we have.” If you’re a science fiction fan the answer might surprise you: it was the writer Kim Stanley Robinson, whose Mars trilogy is an ultimately utopian series of tales that describe the terraforming of Mars – planetary engineering to give it an Earth-like environment – over the course of several centuries after the Earth perishes from overpopulation and ecosystem collapse. Robinson’s pessimism about planetary settlement seems out of step with the spirit of the times.
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Farage cannot be allowed to dictate Britain’s future. He must be thwarted | Tony Blair 11 May 2019, 4:02pm Farage cannot be allowed to dictate Britain’s future. He must be thwarted | Tony Blair
The EU election results will send a vital message to MPs about BrexitIf you care about what the Brexiters are doing to our country, then vote on 23 May. All that matters is that on 24 May, Nigel Farage and his allies on the far right of the Conservative party cannot claim they speak for Britain. Politics is not an exact science. After the vote, there will be a ledger. On one side will be hard or no-deal Brexit with Farage and the Tory fellow travellers. On the other will be those who want an end to Brexit and those who believe that, after this degree of mess and on a decision of this magnitude, the final say should be with the people.
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Sorry, Emma Thompson, but you’ll never be perfect enough to save the planet | Zoe Williams 6 May 2019, 11:08am Sorry, Emma Thompson, but you’ll never be perfect enough to save the planet | Zoe Williams
The actor and climate-change protester has been condemned for flying. Is going off grid the only way to avoid charges of hypocrisy?Hold the front page: Emma Thompson, protester against climate change, scourge of the fossil fuel industry, herself takes aeroplanes. There she was, bold as brass, in a seat, about to burn through rainforests of unknown dimensions with her cross-Atlantic travel, on the cover of the Mail on Sunday. On some level we must have known this all along, since mostly she is in the UK, sometimes she is in the United States, and we know (although sometimes I wonder) she isn’t magic. But still, doesn’t that put the old tin lid on it? What’s the point of it all, when even people who care about the future and believe in science aren’t perfect?
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Tanks for the amusing subtitles | Brief letters 3 May 2019, 11:53am Tanks for the amusing subtitles | Brief letters
Science fiction | Lost in translation | Ship gender | Black squirrels | Funeral songsSarah Ditum’s article on Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me (
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The Guardian view on net-zero carbon emissions: sooner is better | Editorial 2 May 2019, 1:29pm The Guardian view on net-zero carbon emissions: sooner is better | Editorial
Government advisers have explained how to erase the nation’s carbon footprint. Science dictates that we do it as fast as we canBy the end of this year we should expect UK law to mandate net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Thursday’s
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The biggest government pledge to science spending for 60 years – but who benefits? | Sarah Main 1 May 2019, 8:13am The biggest government pledge to science spending for 60 years – but who benefits? | Sarah Main
All political parties have said research and innovation can help raise living standards. A good start would be to invest in staff Amid the turbulence of Brexit deadlines and extensions, you might be pleased to know that there are at least some long-term plans afoot. A good news story in government, with major investment attached, has the potential to create a new type of future for the UK. You may not have heard of it but, in a time of fiscal constraint, the government has given a staggering boost to the UK’s capability in research and innovation, paving the way for science investment to reach £65bn. This is the biggest uplift in about 60 years. Why would the government do this? Is it a good idea? And what do you want out of it? Science is part of a social justice agenda that is likely to persist through different governments
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Greta Thunberg is right – only a general strike will force action on climate change | McEver Dugan and Evan Cholerton 24 Apr 2019, 10:16am Greta Thunberg is right – only a general strike will force action on climate change | McEver Dugan and Evan Cholerton
Every day at work we all contribute to a system that is burning us alive. Downing tools on 27 September will help change itClimate change is hurling humanity towards disaster. There is no more room to question the science, when nearly every climate scientist is in agreement that the implications of a global rise in average temperature will spell drastic changes for human civilisation. In the face of such a rapidly encroaching threat, political niceties and traditional incrementalism and compromise cannot come close to the level of change and upheaval required to solve, or even mitigate, the problem of global climate change.
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‘Wellness water’ is very popular – but is it better than what comes out of the tap? 16 Apr 2019, 1:00pm ‘Wellness water’ is very popular – but is it better than what comes out of the tap?
Bottled water brands have long touted added ingredients in the name of health. It’s debatable whether they’re worth the extra costThe interesting thing about “wellness waters” – bottles of mineral water with improbable things added that makers say keep you well – is not that they make wild claims, it’s how difficult these are to definitively disprove. You’d think science would be all over this: “No, nitwit, there is no such thing as hydrogen water.” In fact, the approach is often a mild, “we do not know, for certain, that this wouldn’t work”, with a hint of tacit eye-rolling in the footnotes. Wellness waters, in their most modern iteration, claim to be infused with, say, hydrogen or able to maintain blood pH levels (which a healthy body is quite capable of doing) with extra alkaline. It would be unfair to start there, however. There is a long tradition of ridiculous claims attached to the word “water” or – insert woo-woo time-traveling music – “aqua”. It started with Aqua Libra sparkling water in the 1980s. “We pioneered the first generation of wellness drinks back in the 80s, with fans that included Lady Diana and Darcey Bussell,” reads its
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The Tory leadership contest: your handy idiots guide | Marina Hyde 29 Mar 2019, 11:32am The Tory leadership contest: your handy idiots guide | Marina Hyde
As the nation loses itself in the Brexit maze, the Conservative party is seeking a new face to lead us down the wrong pathThere’s a photo from Pompeii that’s been doing the internet rounds a while, showing the plaster cast of a naked man. He appears to have died masturbating, even as he must have known the Vesuvian lava was approaching. Did he? Science says
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Come on, UK weather forecasters – tell it like it is on climate change | Adam Corner 20 Mar 2019, 9:51am Come on, UK weather forecasters – tell it like it is on climate change | Adam Corner
People have a right to know what’s behind their flooding or heatwave. The UK is lagging behind other countries They have a national reach that most climate campaigners would die for. They are familiar and respected experts on the science of meteorology. And they have prime-time slots at the end of almost every TV news bulletin, morning, noon and night. But the weather forecasters who guide everything from our clothing choices to our weekend plans seldom – if ever – mention the issue that is increasingly shaping our beloved British weather: climate change. This week, former BBC weatherman Bill Giles broke cover, and called for the BBC and other major broadcasters
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Bad Science May Banish Paper Receipts 25 Feb 2019, 6:37pm Bad Science May Banish Paper Receipts
California lawmakers seek a ban, based on a scare over BPA that was debunked two decades ago.
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The Guardian view on the mass death of insects: this threatens us all | Editorial 11 Feb 2019, 1:30pm The Guardian view on the mass death of insects: this threatens us all | Editorial
Global warming and industrialised farming are damaging vital ecosystemsOne of the classic science-fiction treatments of the end of civilisation was
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Why study English? We’re poorer in every sense without it | Susanna Rustin 10 Feb 2019, 1:31pm Why study English? We’re poorer in every sense without it | Susanna Rustin
Fewer are taking the subject at A-level and university. Are they being put off by the way government says it must be taught?The lack of science, maths and language teachers has been talked about for years. But a shortage of English teachers has gone under the radar. Although last year’s target for new trainees was met, in the two previous years
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The Guardian view on the science of hangovers: no more research needed | Editorial 10 Feb 2019, 1:25pm The Guardian view on the science of hangovers: no more research needed | Editorial
Raise a glass, though only one, to the selfless German students and Swedish sailors who have offered up their livers to scienceAs
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The Guardian view on the periodic table: better living through chemistry | Editorial 13 Jan 2019, 1:54pm The Guardian view on the periodic table: better living through chemistry | Editorial
The creation of modern chemistry in the 19th century was a forgotten intellectual revolution that made today’s world possibleThis year marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery, or invention, of the periodic table of the elements, one of the most important, if least dramatic, of all scientific breakthroughs. Chemistry has a bad reputation among non-chemists, perhaps because it is the first place in science where a schoolchild comes up against the stubborn complexity of nature. The organising principles of physics appear simple; evolution makes biology appear a well-ordered process, at least until it’s examined in detail. But chemistry is awkward and lumpy. There are endless facts to memorise, and there are few obvious and intuitively pleasing answers to questions such as why the periodic table has eight columns and not seven or nine. There is not even a hero figure like Darwin, Newton or Einstein whose story can dramatise our understanding of the subject. If there were, it would be
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When we let politics put paid to Prospero | Brief letters 23 Dec 2018, 12:15pm When we let politics put paid to Prospero | Brief letters
Rocket science | Crosswords | Gravy on the border | Egypt, Bucks | Hollywood, BirminghamTerence Hall is incorrect regarding the lack of success of Blue Streak (
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The Yellow Jackets Are Right About Green Policies 16 Dec 2018, 3:21pm The Yellow Jackets Are Right About Green Policies
They have distinguished company in questioning the science behind climate-change dogma.
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Science and mince pies don’t make a good Christmas cocktail | David Mitchell 16 Dec 2018, 5:00am Science and mince pies don’t make a good Christmas cocktail | David Mitchell
The blindingly obvious findings of a study of festive weight gain concealed a rather depressing factWhat I keep telling myself is that scientific research is not retrospectively rendered pointless just because the outcome is boring and predictable. It’s not like a TV drama. The human urge to understand the workings of the universe cannot necessarily be satisfied entertainingly. The apparently obvious has to be tested in experiment if it is to be thoroughly understood. So I shouldn’t blame the researchers from the universities of Birmingham and Loughborough for the fact that their widely reported
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For the sake of fans and players, clubs should spurn the gambling giants | Kevin McKenna 16 Dec 2018, 1:00am For the sake of fans and players, clubs should spurn the gambling giants | Kevin McKenna
The alcohol and tobacco industries have been curtailed by advertising bans, so why not this evil? Two behavioural curiosities, seemingly irreconcilable with our claims to be a sophisticated and progressive society stand above all others in modern Britain. I suspect if you’d asked a group of enlightened Victorians what aspects of life in the UK would be least likely to survive 150 years hence, zoos would be near the top of their list. They’d have been contemptuous of any suggestion that, as science continued to reveal the wonders of the world to us and to unlock its secrets, we would still be handing over money to gawp at the misery of animals captured for their indolent pleasure. Nor can I imagine that governments then would have participated in the practice by which multibillion-pound gambling corporations are encouraged to prey on vulnerable people.
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Act now to reduce health inequalities | Letters 12 Dec 2018, 12:48pm Act now to reduce health inequalities | Letters
Thirty senior public health experts from the north of England say cuts to public health grants should be reversedThere are substantial and growing health inequalities within England. These show that premature death rates are 20% higher for people living in the north than in the south and that a baby girl born in Wokingham can expect nearly 17 more years of healthy life than a baby girl born in Manchester. Health inequality is not only morally wrong but economically irresponsible. The Northern Health Science Alliance’s recent Health for Wealth report demonstrates that these north/south health inequalities cost the UK £13.2bn a year in lost productivity.
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Grave concern for electoral monitors facing jail in Spain | Letter 7 Dec 2018, 12:00pm Grave concern for electoral monitors facing jail in Spain | Letter
More than 400 academics in the fields of political science, law and other disciplines express their worries that electoral monitors in Spain are being threatened with jail over their role in Catalonia’s independence referendumFollowing the decision of four Catalan political prisoners to go on hunger strike (
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Press Is the Enemy of Climate 4 Dec 2018, 6:42pm Press Is the Enemy of Climate
It’s easier to tell a story of good vs. evil than to understand the science.
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Liberals, learn the politics of emotion to beat right-wing populists | Paul Mason 26 Nov 2018, 1:00am Liberals, learn the politics of emotion to beat right-wing populists | Paul Mason
Attachment to place and identity can be part of a radical democratic project that speaks to people’s hearts In Europe, the United States and Brazil, authoritarian nationalism is sweeping to power through a mixture of negative emotion and elite connivance. But this is no mere re-run of the 1930s. In the first place, unlike in Germany, Italy and Spain at the incipient moments of their dictatorships, the existing elites neither want nor need fascism. Their problem is that they don’t know how to fight it. Over the past 15 years political science has engaged a well-evidenced but unfruitful debate over what caused the rise of parties such as Ukip, the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, or France’s Front National. In general, I think it is proven that cultural rather than economic insecurities are what’s driving politics to the right. But it does not follow from this that action at the economic level can’t stem the tide of plebeian racism. In order to get the actions right, though, we have to understand that the political narratives of the centre are failing due to the way the free-market economy was designed.
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Debunking gender pseudo-science | Letters 25 Nov 2018, 12:59am Debunking gender pseudo-science | Letters
Why do we focus on the differences between men and women when they have so much in common? Because it makes better headlinesMay I as an ardent male feminist thank and congratulate Catherine Bennett for her exposure of pseudo-science and cloddish reasoning (“
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Government Can Do More to Support Science and Innovation 20 Nov 2018, 6:58pm Government Can Do More to Support Science and Innovation
Focus on infrastructure, information sharing, and separating scientific advisors from regulators.
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Scottish football, a Jurassic world where ancient species thrive | Kevin McKenna 17 Nov 2018, 2:04pm Scottish football, a Jurassic world where ancient species thrive | Kevin McKenna
Things are so bad for the national side it’s becoming a struggle to find 11 fit players who actually want to wear the shirtA new form of football seems to have evolved in Scotland during our 20 years of wandering in the game’s wilderness. On closer scrutiny, it bears curious similarities to some of those recently discovered islands in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific which are found to have sprouted their own unique ecosystems. In these places some of the accepted norms of biological science appear to have been happily defied in the passing of millennia. The passage of time, though, is no match for David Attenborough and his camera crew – and these remote islands,
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David Attenborough’s OK – blame BBC editors for environment failure | Letters 14 Nov 2018, 12:53pm David Attenborough’s OK – blame BBC editors for environment failure | Letters
Editors who refused to treat climatology as a serious branch of science should be the ones attracting criticism, says
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The UK’s withdrawal from Unesco is historical and cultural vandalism | Emily Thornberry 13 Nov 2018, 5:37am The UK’s withdrawal from Unesco is historical and cultural vandalism | Emily Thornberry
International development secretary Penny Mordaunt is shamefully following the US president down a road to isolationismIn 1985, a young MP – only two years in the job – stood up in the House of Commons to oppose the government’s plans to withdraw from Unesco, the UN agency created after the second world war to encourage global development and collaboration in the fields of education, culture and science. Responding to the
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Linking a lie-in to breast cancer misreads the science | Georgina Hill 6 Nov 2018, 1:51pm Linking a lie-in to breast cancer misreads the science | Georgina Hill
The effect that sleeping patterns have on cancer is more complex than the simplistic headlines suggestMany of us will have seen the headlines claiming women who are early risers have a lower risk of breast cancer. Some of the coverage even suggests women should adjust their sleeping patterns. But it’s far too soon to make these claims. There is no doubt that sleep can have an impact on our physical health. But its effect on cancer risk is more complex.
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Electric food – the new sci-fi diet that could save our planet | George Monbiot 31 Oct 2018, 2:00am Electric food – the new sci-fi diet that could save our planet | George Monbiot
Growing food without plants or animals sounds like science fiction. But it could stop environmental destructionIt’s not about “them”, it’s about us. The horrific rate of
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Brexit, cutting ourselves off from our past, and from science funding | Letters 18 Oct 2018, 1:30pm Brexit, cutting ourselves off from our past, and from science funding | Letters
Letters from Prehistoric Society president
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Fascists are like vampires. Let them in at your peril 17 Oct 2018, 12:48pm Fascists are like vampires. Let them in at your peril
At first, inviting them on to chatshows and the pages of tabloids seemed like mischievous fun. But now they are glorying in the limelight – and hard to destroy Fascism is interesting in its “creep” stage, where you have a hint of what you’re looking at, but you’re not quite sure, and you keep turning it over for historical marks, like the Antiques Roadshow of the Coming Apocalypse. But not in its “march” stage, when antisemitism and Islamophobia are in the open, misogyny is basking under the studio lights, and white nationalism takes its democratically mandated place in ancient parliaments. Intellectually speaking, that’s very boring; the arguments are tedious, even if emotionally it’s as epic and engrossing as watching your house burn down. Don’t beat yourself up, this is timeless: Marie Curie would not win a debate with Steve Bannon about whether she should carry on doing science or go back to the kitchen; Sigmund Freud would not win an argument against Nigel Farage over whether the psychoanalyst was exerting undue influence because HE WAS A JEW. Authoritarians delight in the weakness of their case; if they can be that wrong, and still prevail, they get to prove how strong they are and besmirch the principles of truth and respect at the same time, so it’s win-win.
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Academics are being harassed over their research into transgender issues | Letter 16 Oct 2018, 12:38pm Academics are being harassed over their research into transgender issues | Letter
It is not transphobic to investigate this area from a range of critical perspectives, say 54 academics who are also concerned about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition ActWe represent a newly formed network of over 100 academics, most of whom are currently employed in UK universities. We are concerned, from a range of academic perspectives, about proposed governmental reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, and their interaction with the Equality Act. Our subject areas include: sociology, philosophy, law, criminology, evidence-informed policy, medicine, psychology, education, history, English, social work, computer science, cognitive science, anthropology, political science, economics, and history of art. This week, following an opportunity offered to us by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, we have submitted to the consultation a number of letters, outlining, as individuals, concerns about the introduction of self-ID for gender reassignment.
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Are women in science any better off than in Ada Lovelace’s day? | Jess Wade 9 Oct 2018, 1:13pm Are women in science any better off than in Ada Lovelace’s day? | Jess Wade
On Ada Lovelace Day, let’s rethink how we ensure scientists from diverse backgrounds can contribute to our understanding of the worldIn recognition of the fact that their obituary pages
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The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency | Editorial 8 Oct 2018, 1:27pm The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency | Editorial
The consequences of catastrophic warming will be political and even military, not just environmentalClimate change is an existential threat to the human race. This may seem an absurd or alarmist statement, since we have been conditioned by unparallelled growth to expect that there are no catastrophes that are insurmountable. Even apocalyptic science fiction deals with bands of survivors who have, by definition, survived. And we always imagine ourselves as among the survivors. But the threat is real.
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Science doesn’t belong to men. Here’s the proof | Afua Hirsch 2 Oct 2018, 1:58pm Science doesn’t belong to men. Here’s the proof | Afua Hirsch
The Cern physicist who claimed women have made no contribution to research could be an isolated misogynist, but there’s something deeper going on
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Racial equality once meant tearing down barriers, not doing a DNA test | Kenan Malik 23 Sep 2018, 1:00am Racial equality once meant tearing down barriers, not doing a DNA test | Kenan Malik
The right to be treated differently based on pseudo science is entrenching divisions Until about five years ago, Ralph Taylor did not consider himself black. He lived as a white man and was seen as such by friends, colleagues and clients. In 2010, he took a
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Here’s the science behind the Brexit vote and Trump’s rise | Michele Gelfand 17 Sep 2018, 1:00am Here’s the science behind the Brexit vote and Trump’s rise | Michele Gelfand
My research shows that when people feel threatened they want ‘tighter’ social norms, with profound consequences for politics What is the essential dividing line between human beings around the world? The one between the haves and the have-nots? East and west, rural and urban, secular and religious? Or maybe globalists and nationalists – a split purported to explain Putin, Brexit and the rise of Trump? These divisions are all significant, but none provide a consistent way of understanding differences observed from antiquity to the present day, in everything from international relations to relations in our homes. My research across hundreds of communities suggests that the fundamental driver of difference is not ideological, financial or geographical – it’s cultural. Behaviour, it turns out, depends a lot on whether the culture in which we live is a “tight” or “loose” one.
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Will 2018 be a year of scientific breakthroughs – or frustrations? | Philip Ball 5 Jan 2018, 6:30am Will 2018 be a year of scientific breakthroughs – or frustrations? | Philip Ball
From quantum computers that’ll make conventional machines redundant to a map of the brain, these are some of the key issues for science in the coming yearThis will be the year when we see a
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Rushing students through university and fixating on science is not the way forward | David Cannadine 22 Dec 2017, 7:00am Rushing students through university and fixating on science is not the way forward | David Cannadine
It is to our detriment that the political focus on technology sees science and society as separate or even as being opposed. We need joined-up thinking
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Just what men need – a sex survey that kicks sand in our faces | Peter Ormerod 14 Dec 2017, 5:41am Just what men need – a sex survey that kicks sand in our faces | Peter Ormerod
So, the scientists tell us women like chiselled abs and massive biceps. But is this really a great cultural moment to be reinforcing toxic gender stereotypes?Good news at last for strong, heterosexual men who conform to masculine stereotypes: women tend to be more attracted to you than they are to weak men. It seems those downtrodden, marginalised, overlooked alpha males may actually have something going for them after all. The wonders of science, eh? There might now follow, from a decidedly sub-Herculean specimen like me, a stream of wry self-deprecation. There might be references to bits of my body that are particularly podgy or scrawny, by way of humorous contrast with the ideal. Were this social media, I might post a picture of my hairier-than-I’d-like shoulders. I might respond to this latest confirmation of beta-male inferiority with attempts at irony or wit.
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Labour will make Britain a great digital power: here’s how | Liam Byrne 11 Dec 2017, 10:57am Labour will make Britain a great digital power: here’s how | Liam Byrne
The Teletext-era Tories have plunged us into a cyber depression. But Labour’s People’s Plan for Digital will launch a science revolution for an innovation nationSo the facts are in. The Tories have given us a recovery that is worse than the one in the 1930s that
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It’s called effective altruism – but is it really the best way to do good? | Loose canon | Giles Fraser 23 Nov 2017, 11:34am It’s called effective altruism – but is it really the best way to do good? | Loose canon | Giles Fraser
The reduction of morality to a data-driven calculation has proved especially attractive in an age where Stem disciples make so much of the cultural runningGiving to charity goes up at Christmas time. Many of us, secretly repulsed by our gluttonous orgy of collective servitude to next February’s landfill delivery, yearn for a better use for our money. Bombarded by advertisements, sometimes a thought peeps though the fog of amplified desire: what if we used our money to do some good in the world rather than fill it with more and more meaningless crap? But how to make the most effective difference? In a central London pub this week, I joined a hundred or so young people who meet up regularly to talk about precisely this: what might a data-driven approach to doing good look like? The effective altruism movement emerged around the start of this decade in Oxford. The big idea is to encourage a broadly utilitarian/rationalist approach to doing good, and it is particularly aimed at graduate higher earners who have more money to give and who thus, on a utilitarian calculus, can achieve more. This approach has proved particularly attractive to those with backgrounds in maths and computer science, and chapters of effective altruists have sprung up in Silicon Valley, New York and London, with many pledging at least 10% of their income to charity.
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Water divining is bunk. So why do myths continue to trump science? | Philip Ball 22 Nov 2017, 11:01am Water divining is bunk. So why do myths continue to trump science? | Philip Ball
The use of dowsing by major water companies shows that the appeal of natural magic needs to be understood – and, where needed, confrontedThe news that many
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E = mc^2 … and make mine a pint while you’re there | Tim Adams 11 Nov 2017, 7:04pm E = mc^2 … and make mine a pint while you’re there | Tim Adams
A Cambridge professor forgets that a glass or two can expand the mind with amazing resultsSome university professors have always made it their mission to keep their students out of the pub. Professor Eugene Terentjev, head of science at Queens’ College, Cambridge, last week provided a spectacular example of this impulse, in
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A new species of great ape: a family member we must urgently fight to save | Jules Howard 6 Nov 2017, 5:00am A new species of great ape: a family member we must urgently fight to save | Jules Howard
No sooner has the Tapanuli orangutan been discovered than it’s facing extinction. The indifference of humans – the one thriving great ape – is the culpritIf I could be a fly on the wall at any point in the history of science, it would be to watch the young(ish) Charles Darwin – long before his
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Leftie? Yes, and proud to be among those upholding Enlightenment values | Will Hutton 28 Oct 2017, 7:05pm Leftie? Yes, and proud to be among those upholding Enlightenment values | Will Hutton
The Mail’s attack on universities is typical of a campaign denigrating those who dare to question BrexitAcademic freedom is the soil in which knowledge flourishes. The freedom to research, to follow where evidence leads, to argue, to be challenged, to exchange ideas freely and to disseminate the results lie at the heart of academic life. Immanuel Kant captured the spirit that animates universities when he said that knowledge was a process in which human beings dared to know. The great advances in science and medicine over the past 250 years, along with the breakthrough understandings offered by social sciences and the humanities, would have been impossible without this Enlightenment mindset. It is these freedoms, entrenched because of universities’ constitutional autonomy, that have allowed our civilisation to achieve what it has.
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The Politicization of Motherhood 27 Oct 2017, 6:40pm The Politicization of Motherhood
Conservatives cheer and liberals jeer New York psychoanalyst Erica Komisar’s book on the science of early childhood development.
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The Business of Saving Lives 21 Oct 2017, 12:40am The Business of Saving Lives
Gilead Science’s executive chairman talks about the new era of biomedicine and why drugs cost so much, as Donald Trump has noticed.
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It’s official – women are nicer than men. Is this really science? | Anne Perkins 10 Oct 2017, 9:53am It’s official – women are nicer than men. Is this really science? | Anne Perkins
A new study by neuroeconomists suggesting that women’s biology could make them a soft touch covers overly familiar gendered groundRichard Thaler has
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Only science can solve the intriguing stick insect mystery | First Dog on the Moon 6 Oct 2017, 1:56am Only science can solve the intriguing stick insect mystery | First Dog on the Moon
The world is terrible, mainly because of people. But today there is good news – the Lord Howe Island stick insect isn’t extinct!
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First, They Came for the Biologists 2 Oct 2017, 6:40pm First, They Came for the Biologists
The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself.
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In our troubled world, disaster movies are becoming obsolete | Ryan Gilbey 27 Sep 2017, 4:00am In our troubled world, disaster movies are becoming obsolete | Ryan Gilbey
Perhaps it’s time for disaster film-makers to address why our world is so messed up, rather than imagining how much worse it could beOne of the timeless functions of cinematic storytelling is the way it allows us to explore in safety the fears that impinge occasionally on our daily lives. But that dynamic alters when reality itself is saturated in dread and anxiety. The merest glance at the headlines produces enough plots to furnish an entire studio’s slate of dystopian science-fiction movies.
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White supremacist statues must fall. Even when they are of famous scientists | Yarden Katz 19 Sep 2017, 1:00am White supremacist statues must fall. Even when they are of famous scientists | Yarden Katz
There is no such thing as apolitical science, as a row over the ‘father of gynaecology’, who experimented on slaves, reminds usScience’s most elite magazine, Nature, published an editorial recently arguing that calling for monuments to figures such as J Marion Sims – often called the “father of gynaecology” – to be removed amounts to “whitewashing” history. Sims is widely praised for developing techniques in gynaecological surgery and founding a women’s hospital in New York in the mid-1800s. But Sims experimented on enslaved black women and infants, operating up to 30 times on one woman to perfect his method. Last month, women wearing bloodied hospital gowns staged a protest by Sims’s statue outside the New York Academy of Medicine.
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We can’t stand silent while the right abuses free speech | Owen Jones 7 Sep 2017, 1:00am We can’t stand silent while the right abuses free speech | Owen Jones
Giving a TV platform to a ‘gay cure’ quack highlights a trend. The idea that free speech guarantees the right to incite hatred of minorities must be resisted So-called “gay cure therapy” isn’t medicine, science, or indeed therapy: it’s abuse. Medical professionals regard the practice, which sees homosexuality as a fixable “condition”, as scientifically discredited, unethical and harmful. When my first boyfriend came out, aged 15, his parents drove him to a pseudo-scientist to be cured of his homosexuality: consider this against a context of being bullied at school for being gay.
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Science should be taught like art or music: grab a test tube and have a go | Tom McLeish 14 Aug 2017, 11:33am Science should be taught like art or music: grab a test tube and have a go | Tom McLeish
Science is not just for boffins. If we can get our minds around football statistics, we can handle scientific enquiry – starting in primary schoolScience is not just the brainy preserve of the stereotypical boffins you see on TV.
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Some still attack Darwin and evolution. How can science fight back? | Jules Howard 8 Aug 2017, 7:47am Some still attack Darwin and evolution. How can science fight back? | Jules Howard
AN Wilson’s ‘exposé’ is the latest in a long line of attempts to undermine evolutionary biology. Now scientists must decide how best to counter themI can save you the effort of reading
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Silicon Valley’s weapon of choice against women: shoddy science | Angela Saini 7 Aug 2017, 2:45pm Silicon Valley’s weapon of choice against women: shoddy science | Angela Saini
Support for the anonymous Google ‘manifesto’ on gender difference is reminiscent of the thinking behind the eugenics era
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Gene editing isn’t about designer babies, it’s about hope for people like me | Alex Lee 3 Aug 2017, 11:51am Gene editing isn’t about designer babies, it’s about hope for people like me | Alex Lee
What gives someone without an incurable condition such as blindness the right to stand in the way of potentially life-saving treatments? A landmark US study by scientists at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland
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We can cure Alzheimer’s – if we stop ignoring it | Joseph Jebelli 19 Jul 2017, 7:20am We can cure Alzheimer’s – if we stop ignoring it | Joseph Jebelli
The disease is now the leading cause of death among the oldest people. Given focus and funding, however, Alzheimer’s will yield to science and reason
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A Step Toward Scientific Integrity at the EPA 17 Jul 2017, 6:35pm A Step Toward Scientific Integrity at the EPA
Scott Pruitt sweeps out Obama-era science advisers. The agency needs truly independent ones.
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Messy, always late and swear like a sailor? It just means you’re super smart 9 Jul 2017, 3:00pm Messy, always late and swear like a sailor? It just means you’re super smart
Recent studies suggest traits often seen as negatives could actually signify high brain power. Truth or merely self-affirmation?I’m very intelligent. I’m also extremely creative and have a vocabulary that could be described as voluminous, venerable or very large. But don’t just take my word for it: science says so. You see, my desk is always messy, I swear like a sailor and I tend to sleep late in the morning – normally because I’ve stayed up into the early hours, watching trash on TV. And while all these things may seem like bad habits, you don’t need to look that hard to find evidence that they’re the opposite.
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The Charlie Gard case is heartbreaking, but society can’t shun its experts | Gaby Hinsliff 6 Jul 2017, 3:29pm The Charlie Gard case is heartbreaking, but society can’t shun its experts | Gaby Hinsliff
We know they are not infallible. But without our belief in expertise, medicine can’t function. But nor can science, the rule of law, government itself
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The Guardian view on plutocratic Mars missions: escape velocity | Editorial 23 Jun 2017, 1:51pm The Guardian view on plutocratic Mars missions: escape velocity | Editorial
The race between wealthy tech billionaires to get to Mars is a distraction from mortalityFor science fiction writers ranged across the astronomical distance that separates Edgar Rice Burroughs and Kim Stanley Robinson, Mars has been a theatre of dreams, variously realistic. Now the tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are competing to see who will make it first there in reality.
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In science fiction, the future is feminist | Laurie Penny 14 Jun 2017, 2:30am In science fiction, the future is feminist | Laurie Penny
Move over, square-jawed straight white heroes. From The Power to The Handmaid’s Tale, fantasy stories about women remaking the world are finally going mainstreamNaomi Alderman’s brilliant science fiction novel
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1 Jun 2017, 4:34pm Our Disgraceful Exit From the Paris Accord
President Trump’s decision on the climate change pact sends a clear message: He cares little about science, our allies and the planet’s future generations....
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Even in this age of mass literacy, we need writing lessons more than ever | Ian Jack 27 May 2017, 2:00am Even in this age of mass literacy, we need writing lessons more than ever | Ian Jack
Writing is not the passport to riches promised to would-be journalists of the past, and nor is it an exact science. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be learnedThanks to this newspaper’s belief in self-improvement and its need in these hard times to earn a bob or two, a reader can sign up to a Guardian Masterclass and learn how to be a columnist. Not only a columnist, of course: there are many other skills you can learn. Column writing, nonetheless, is the course to which I’m strangely drawn. I’m genuinely interested to know how it’s done. I imagine wearing a mask to disguise my identity and picking up advice on how to make the column better, or at least easier to achieve. “The art of applying the ass to the seat,” is how
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We must stop seabird numbers falling off a cliff. After all, we’re to blame | Adam Nicolson 26 May 2017, 2:00am We must stop seabird numbers falling off a cliff. After all, we’re to blame | Adam Nicolson
Just as science is understanding the extraordinary lives of puffins and shearwaters, we are destroying them. And climate change may finish what we startedAbout 70,000 tonnes of seabird are now afloat or on the wing off the shores of the British Isles. This biomass – roughly the same as Salisbury Cathedral – is made up entirely of thinking, fishing, hunting, flirting, fighting, flying, diving and feathered beauty: 8 million breeders, several million more adolescents and, by the end of the summer, armies of chicks. Perhaps 15 million creatures in all.
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Anatomy of a Deep State 25 May 2017, 7:07pm Anatomy of a Deep State
The EPA’s ‘Science Integrity Official’ is plotting to undermine Trump’s agenda.
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Do sea monsters exist? Yes, but they go by another name … | Jules Howard 18 May 2017, 3:38am Do sea monsters exist? Yes, but they go by another name … | Jules Howard
Nothing fires up a media storm like a sighting of a dead sea monster no one can identify. However much scientists shout ‘It’s a whale!’I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I guess I’ll have to. It was a whale that washed up on the Indonesian island of Seram late last week. It was never a sea monster, no matter how hard we all tried to believe or hope it might be. Although the species of whale remains unknown (DNA analysis should solve that problem in time), the big giveaways were the presence of whale jaw-bone, the baleen plates, the vertebrae, the fins, the throat pleats, the whale shape and the fact that whales live close by and have skeletons that look exactly the same as this one did. Still, why let a bit of science get in the way of a good monster story, right? And so, within hours, a familiar narrative was playing out in the world’s media as the whale became a dead sea monster that no one could identify, a Scooby Doo mystery that could be maintained by journalists for days as long as nobody checked Twitter, where 10,000 scientists were screaming “That is clearly a whale” at each other. As such, in the news reports, the whale’s decomposing skin became “fur” and its blood became “mysterious red fluid” floating in the water. Nothing (apart from spiders and wasps) brings out the worst in journalism like a decomposing whale, it seems.
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How a Polymath Mastered Math---and So Can You 12 May 2017, 10:28pm Updated How a Polymath Mastered Math---and So Can You
‘Mindshift’ author Barbara Oakley on the science and practice of learning—and finding love at the South Pole.
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3 May 2017, 5:00am Bret Stephens Takes On Climate Change. Readers Unleash Their Fury.
The New York Times’s new Op-Ed writer drew a strong reaction when he questioned the data on climate science in his first column. Now what?...
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Climate Editors Have a Meltdown 2 May 2017, 7:30pm Climate Editors Have a Meltdown
How did science reporting get so detached from the underlying science?
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How artificial wombs will change our ideas of gender, family and equality | Aarathi Prasad 1 May 2017, 3:00am How artificial wombs will change our ideas of gender, family and equality | Aarathi Prasad
Science has shown what’s possible with lamb foetuses. For humans this could revolutionise birth, solving inequalities and raising new ethical dilemmasIn 1924 the evolutionary biologist
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The Guardian view on defending science: the battleground is culture | Editorial 30 Apr 2017, 2:06pm The Guardian view on defending science: the battleground is culture | Editorial
It is not enough for scientists to be right. They must also be politically adeptThe Wellcome Trust is not making any kind of
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27 Apr 2017, 3:21am 21,587 Reasons to Fix Forensic Science
A yearslong scandal involving a tainted crime lab shows how far prosecutors will go to win....
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Why Does Alec Baldwin Hate Science? 26 Apr 2017, 6:30pm Why Does Alec Baldwin Hate Science?
The actor plays a fine Trump, but he once used an 8-year-old cancer patient as a political prop.
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Scientists are armed with the truth. But to win this culture war, they’ll need more than that | Anne Perkins 23 Apr 2017, 10:04am Scientists are armed with the truth. But to win this culture war, they’ll need more than that | Anne Perkins
We all love science when it’s making life better, longer and easier. It’s a much harder sell when it points to inconvenient truths about our way of lifeThere is an old joke about being able to tell an extroverted scientist: instead of staring at their shoes when they talk to you, they stare at yours. This is no longer true. Scientists are the new rock stars. Tonight Einstein gets the full soft-focus Crown-style treatment as National Geographic launches a
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30 Mar 2017, 11:33am Science classes won’t future-proof our children. But dance might | Christina Patterson
Focusing exclusively on science, maths and tech is misguided. Future workers will need the creativity that only the arts teachPrince George is going to learn ballet. He will wear tights and black shoes, and join girls in pink shoes and tutus, to learn the plié, the relevé and the sauté. He will do this
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29 Mar 2017, 4:59am Veganism raises your game. Just ask Jermain Defoe | Jamie Berger
The science is clear: powered by a plant-based diet, we can all run faster, live more healthily and cut our recovery timesJermain Defoe knows he’s gained far more than he’s lost by dropping meat, eggs and dairy products from his diet. “I don’t find anything hard to give up … because I know the feeling scoring goals gives me,” the recently recalled
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27 Mar 2017, 3:21am The Trump Administration’s War on Science
Mr. Trump’s inaugural budget blueprint is a narrow-minded document that sacrifices American innovation to small-bore politics....
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Can Clementi’s appliance of science get Leavers off BBC’s back? 25 Mar 2017, 8:03pm Can Clementi’s appliance of science get Leavers off BBC’s back?
With two years of Brexit negotiation ahead of us, the Beeb’s new chairman needs wise heads to defend him from MPs’ claims of corporation bias, not researchOne hapless offer has a habit of leading to another. Thus, three months ago,
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Robots don’t challenge surgeons such as me – they challenge dogmatic practice | Ara Darzi 9 Mar 2017, 11:09am Robots don’t challenge surgeons such as me – they challenge dogmatic practice | Ara Darzi
I believe patient care depends on the use of disruptive innovators. My live demo at the Science Museum will show how far we’ve already comeOn Friday 10 March, I will perform an operation in public for the first time. In a
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The Guardian view on alien life: dark star, bright prospects | Editorial 24 Feb 2017, 2:00pm The Guardian view on alien life: dark star, bright prospects | Editorial
The discovery of planets where other lifeforms might flourish makes the universe look more interesting – even if we never reach themLooked at in the right perspective, 39 light years is a trivial distance. In the imagination of science fiction writers it is only a hop and a skip away; even without faster-than-light travel, it is a distance that could conceivably be covered by a robot probe or even a colony ship. So
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Snow on the tracks? Get out the didle | Letters 8 Feb 2017, 2:24pm Snow on the tracks? Get out the didle | Letters
Science fraud | Slubbing out in Norfolk | Lychees in St Albans | Paul Nuttall’s makeover | Snow in Scotland | Dangers of Weetabix“The science fraud squad” (
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Can Raccoons of the Resistance save Science from the Tantrumocracy? | First Dog on the Moon 27 Jan 2017, 1:38am Can Raccoons of the Resistance save Science from the Tantrumocracy? | First Dog on the Moon
Science had been doing it tough for years but this was different. It knew it had to get out if it was going to survive
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Donald Trump’s mission? To keep the US in the fossil age 19 Jan 2017, 2:00am Donald Trump’s mission? To keep the US in the fossil age
While China invests heavily in renewable energy, the fossil economy in the US will be given the green light to squeeze every last cent from oil and coal Make America Wait Again. That is what Donald Trump’s energy policy amounts to. Stop all the clocks, put the technological revolution on hold, ensure that the transition from fossil fuels to clean power is delayed for as long as possible. Trump is the president that corporate luddites have dreamed of: the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless. They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have
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Anthony King, face of BBC election night coverage, dies aged 82 12 Jan 2017, 7:19am Anthony King, face of BBC election night coverage, dies aged 82
Professor who taught at Essex University for more than half a century was fixture on results night from 1983 to 2005 Prof Anthony King, one of the undisputed giants of postwar British political science and a familiar face in the BBC’s live coverage of general election night results, has died aged 82.
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The Guardian view on New Year resolutions: fitter, happier, more productive | Editorial 3 Jan 2017, 2:48pm The Guardian view on New Year resolutions: fitter, happier, more productive | Editorial
Those annual pledges aren’t just about self-improvement – they’re also a mass economics experimentA very rare thing is happening this week: hundreds of millions of people across the world are undertaking a massive economics experiment. True, hardly any of us think of it as such. Instead, we pledge to lose weight, give up the demon weed or just to get along with our mothers-in-law. But each of these New Year resolutions are exercises in attempting to change what we do – and as such are voyages deep into social science. Your pledge to lead a healthier and happier life is terrain on which the economists have firmly planted their flag. The US professor and economics blogger
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Holiday Cheer From the Dismal Science 28 Dec 2016, 6:15pm Holiday Cheer From the Dismal Science
No G-7 economy comes close to American wealth. Per capita, most are only about 70% as rich.
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Kissing cows are to blame for bovine TB – so stop this bloody badger cull | Richard Meyer 19 Dec 2016, 8:07am Kissing cows are to blame for bovine TB – so stop this bloody badger cull | Richard Meyer
Science shows cattle are the main cause of bovine TB spread, so badger slaughter makes no sense. Politics and economics are behind this catastrophic policyMore than 10,000 badgers
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The Dividends of Funding Basic Science 5 Dec 2016, 7:01pm The Dividends of Funding Basic Science
In the 1970s government spending on fundamental research was 2% of GDP. That’s how to beat cancer, climate change and more.
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I would have given anything to have a baby. But what does IVF really cost? | Jessica Hepburn 29 Nov 2016, 8:39am I would have given anything to have a baby. But what does IVF really cost? | Jessica Hepburn
Reproductive science is big business but seems to be avoiding the ethical microscope. This affects all of usIf someone told you that injecting a stranger’s white blood cells into your arm would get you pregnant, would you do it? If they said it was going to cost several thousand pounds that you couldn’t afford, would you remortgage your house? And if they then said there was absolutely no evidence that it was going to work and the long-term harmful effects were unknown, would you still say: “Go on, inject away?” I consider myself to be a moderately intelligent woman who earns a modest salary and looks after her health, but I did this. That’s how desperate I had become to have a baby. I would have probably done anything.
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23 Nov 2016, 3:24pm Updated Weird Science
Can a mad experiment bring Hillary’s campaign back to life?
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The Guardian view on the humanities: science doesn’t have all the answers | Editorial 20 Nov 2016, 2:50pm The Guardian view on the humanities: science doesn’t have all the answers | Editorial
It is 60 years since CP Snow’s essay The Two Cultures poured scorn on the literary world and welcomed the advance of science and technology. But in a fractured world, the humanities are key to an understanding of othersIn Denis Villeneuve’s
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10 Nov 2016, 7:36pm Any Relief for the Monetary-Policy Guinea Pigs?
Declining returns on investment deplete the coffers of our incubators of science and technology.
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6 Nov 2016, 2:20pm The Guardian view on Westworld: science fiction’s fresh look at the present | Editorial
A show about treating robots as fully human reminds us how difficult it is to treat even humans that wayAlmost all injustice comes from the sense that some people are worth less than others. So we can behave as if women are worth less than men; foreigners less than we are; poor people less than rich ones, and slaves, paradigmatically, are worth less than free people. This is so obvious that it is difficult to think about, and difficult sometimes to see. One way to make it fresh and unavoidable would be to set it up as fact. Suppose there were a class of robot servants, things which were by definition not properly human, and which could not, because of the way they are made, suffer in the ways that we do, even if they appeared to be anguished. What would be the moral wrong in mistreating them? This is the premise of
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31 Oct 2016, 5:00pm Dot Earth Blog: Can Science Help Communities Thrive on a Turbulent Planet?
Networks emerge aimed at linking scientists with communities facing threats and seeking solutions.
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31 Oct 2016, 3:21am Editorial: When a Masterpiece Is Not
A painting accepted as the work of a Dutch master was so good that it was only discovered to be a new work with the aid of science.
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25 Oct 2016, 12:25pm Reflections on Black Mirror – by those for whom science fiction became reality
For many people, watching Charlie Brooker’s show feels like deja vu – not dystopia. We got writers with intimate experience of gaming, shaming and the darker side of technology to face their fears
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24 Oct 2016, 7:21pm Dot Earth Blog: Remembering Gordon Hamilton – An Edge-Pushing Prober of Eroding Ice
The death of a prominent glaciologist in Antarctica illustrates how edge-pushing science sometimes poses existential risks.
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20 Oct 2016, 12:38pm News Analysis: The Science of the Fake Laugh
How fake laughter — in politics, business and social life — can do more harm than good.
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10 Oct 2016, 3:19pm Science Museum should drop Statoil sponsorship of children’s gallery | Letters
On Tuesday, the Science Museum will launch its new interactive gallery for children –
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9 Oct 2016, 12:04am Welcome to a world without work | Ryan Avent
Automation and globalisation are combining to generate a world with a surfeit of labour and too little workA new age is dawning. Whether it is a wonderful one or a terrible one remains to be seen. Look around and the signs of dizzying technological progress are difficult to miss. Driverless cars and drones, not long ago the stuff of science fiction, are now oddities that can occasionally be spotted in the wild and which will soon be a commonplace in cities around the world.
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8 Oct 2016, 7:04pm Well, I’ll be... There’s a real science to cussing and blaspheming but beware | Benjamin Bergen
The cognitive specialist, who has just published a brilliant analysis of profanity, suggests order behind the chaosWords do things to people. And the most potent words, the ones that have a direct line to the emotions, are profanity. Profane words uniquely allow you to express pain or cause it in others. They peerlessly demonstrate frustration, anger or emphasis. But let’s be specific. I mean words such as cocksucker. Or fuck. These are among the taboo words of English that elicit the strongest measurable physiological reactions – the fastest pulse, the sweatiest palms, the shallowest breath. These words are versatile. Name a feeling and profanity can elicit it. Profanity can increase sexual arousal. It can increase your ability to withstand pain (compare the analgesic effect of yelling “fuck!” when you hammer your thumb with the effect of yelling “duck!”).
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6 Oct 2016, 10:49am Shhh! We’re ruining the sex lives of cod | Jules Howard
Drilling, shipping lanes and oil exploration are all piscine passion-killers, silencing the grunts and thumps on which fish depend for their very existenceFirst we realised the Earth isn’t the only planet in the solar system. Then we learned that everything doesn’t revolve around it. Then we discovered that we are nothing but apes, collections of selfish genes. And now we have been dealt the final blow: we humans can’t even pride ourselves on the richness and variety of our communication. It turns out that, of all things, fish have regional accents not unlike our own. That’s right – fish. Welcome to the world of genuine cod science.
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3 Oct 2016, 3:21am Op-Ed Contributor: Update the Nobel Prizes
The Nobel Prizes fail to recognize the seismic shifts science has undergone since the awards were conceived in the late 19th century.
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28 Sep 2016, 7:01pm Anti-radicalisation strategy lacks evidence base in science | Letters
We are concerned with the implementation of “radicalisation” policies within the UK Prevent strategy, internationally referred to as countering violence extremism. Tools that purport to have a psychology evidence base are being developed and placed under statutory duty while their “science” has not been subjected to proper scientific scrutiny or public critique. Of particular concern is the Extremism Risk Guidance 22+ (ERG22+) framework that is being used as the basis for assessing risk of “radicalisation” and referral to the Channel programme. More than 500,000 public servants have been placed under a duty to implement the tool and several dozen children have been directly affected, through the courts, based on assessments using the tool. The impact is significant and cannot be emphasised enough.
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28 Sep 2016, 1:34pm Letter: Chinese vs. Western Medicine
A Harvard Sinologist writes that Mao “mixed praise for Chinese medicine with hardheaded preference for Western medical science on his own body.”
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26 Sep 2016, 3:21am Letter: A.D.D. and Child Suicides
A pediatrician writes that the link between the two “must be understood within the context of contemporary developmental science.”
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20 Sep 2016, 10:59am Updated Room for Debate: The Cost of Corporate-Funded Research
Does industry's role in science need to be reduced to curb its influence?
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20 Sep 2016, 10:04am Updated Rejecting Voodoo Science in the Courtroom
The U.S. has relied on flawed forensic-evidence techniques for decades, falsely convicting many.
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