Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Where have I been?

November 15, 2010

Sorry for the recent lack of posts, I’m working on another project and just don’t have the time right now to post regularly!

I’ve got some ideas fermenting away, and will be back on 10minus9 sometime in the new year, hopefully!

15 minutes of fame…

September 8, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, but I’ve been nudged out of my negligence by this piece on the Guardian science blog (thanks to Jon for sending me the link!), refering to my previous articles here and in the Guardian on the Future Jobs report comissioned by the Science: So What? campaign.

I’ll get back to regular blogging very soon!

Why I’m not spoofing Jenks, part 2

June 30, 2010

In a radio interview last year, prime minister to be David Cameron made an on-air “gaffe” when asked about whether he was on Twitter. He said,

The trouble with twitter, the instantness of it is, is, I think that too many twits might make a twat

Of course the apologies followed, with the wafer-thin excuse that he didn’t know what the word “twat” actually meant. I guess an Etonian education isn’t what I think it is. Anyway, in case anyone has been living in a cave called denial for the last few weeks, DC went on to become prime minister. (more…)

Why I’m not spoofing Jenks

June 28, 2010

In a way, I’m a fan of Simon Jenkins’ work- it always provides easy blog fodder whenever he ventures into science commentary. His latest piece on the BBC’s Reith lectures painted a patently ludicrous comparison with a Soviet Academy, while the safety fears over flying through the Icelandic ash cloud were reminiscent of a McCarthyism of fear. Thoroughly daft exaggeration in my humble opinion, and worthy of a little satire.

The physicist Jon Butterworth is clearly of the same opinion, and posted a spoof Simon Jenkins piece on his Life and Physics blog, which then inspired Jennifer Rohn to declare Monday “Spoof Jenkins Day”- which quickly spread around the sciencey areas of the twitter-sphere. There is a summary of the resulting posts on Jennifer Rohn’s blog.

I know it’s intended as fun, but it just doesn’t feel right. One spoof post, if done well, is fine, but I firmly believe in attacking the ideas, rather than the people behind them. This post on the In the Dark blog is just unpleasant.

Satire takes skill and subtlety. This mass effort, though producing some gems, smacks too much of personal vendetta to my taste. Sorry folks.

Enough of these mindless attacks on scientists’ integrity

June 26, 2010

This post was written for the LayScience website

We are all different, as scientists and as people, with individual aims, beliefs and motivations. Some do their best to communicate what they do and why they do it, and some people respond with curiosity and interest. Just see, for example, the excellent periodic table of videos and sixty symbols websites from my alma mater, The University of Nottingham.

Yet despìte these efforts, some will do their best to engender an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. I have just read Simon Jenkins´assesment in the Guardian CIF of Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees’, Reith lectures for the BBC.

Before looking at the finer points of the argument, it’s worth looking at Jenkins’ style in this and other articles. Invariably, he will use a comparison with an oppressive regime (in this case the lectures themselves are reminiscent of a “soviet academy”, while comparing Rees to a religious leader above question or criticism, going on to set up science as a whole in the same light). In his articles on the Icelandic ash cloud, he used ludicrous comparisons (more…)

Latest Lay Science Post: Science vs Religion, To be Settled by Golden Goal

June 16, 2010

I’ve wandered blindly into the science vs religion minefield… read my post on the Lay Science site here!

Watch this video!

June 4, 2010

Find the time to watch this video. I mentioned a talk from a couple of years ago by the same speaker in a recent post, and this follow up is equally superb. Enjoy.

Daily Mail Fear Bingo!

May 22, 2010

I’ve just invented a new game: see details on the Lay Scientist website!

Creativity vs Management Jargon Bullshit

May 20, 2010

I’ve spent most of this week at a management and communication training course. It’s the kind of thing designed to give researchers more broadly applicable skills for when we venture away from the ivory towers and out into the real world.

Generally, I’m fairly cynical about these sorts of things; team building and management exercises involving flip charts, post-it notes and brainstorming sessions (or whatever they call them now, thought showers or mind orgies or something like that). My irritation threshold is very low.

So unfortunately it came as little surprise that the course was about as much fun as being force-fed blocks of Lego. While achey breaky heart plays on a constant loop in the background. In a room that’s slightly uncomfortably too warm. (more…)

Evidence based policy: what are we really talking about?

May 6, 2010

Anyone interested in science and the general election will probably have seen Martin Robbins’ litmus test series for The Guardian, in which the respective political parties were asked a series of specific questions on science policy.

A running theme is that of evidence-based policy. Though Ben Goldacre has been a vociferous supporter of evidence-based health policy for a number of years, it’s become a deeply important issue in the wider scientific blog-o-circle in the run up to this election.

But what does evidence-based actually mean? (more…)


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