Watch this video!

Posted June 4, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Uncategorized

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.

Power Bollocks: holograms, unicorns, and Shaquille O’Neal’s magic underpants

Posted June 1, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Bad Science


This week I was alerted to Power Balance. Basically, bracelets and pendants with holograms in them. From the website’s “how it works” section;

“Most everything has a frequency inherent to it.  Some frequencies react positively with your body and others negatively. When the hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it allows your body to interact with the natural, beneficial frequency stored within the hologram. This results in improved energy flow throughout your body.”

The official website is vague on details as to how it is supposed to work.

“The Mylar material at the core of Power Balance has been treated with energy waves at specific frequencies.  The resulting Mylar is believed to resonate and work with your body’s natural energy flow to help enable you to perform at the best of your ability.”

Energy waves at specific frequencies basically means they either shone some light on it or played it some sound. This is a slightly higher technology version of a homepath shaking water to help it remember. It’s still just a hologram, just a very expensive one. Read the rest of this post »

Daily Mail Fear Bingo!

Posted May 22, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Uncategorized

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

Creativity vs Management Jargon Bullshit

Posted May 20, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

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. Read the rest of this post »

Here come the spiders: the importance of imagery

Posted May 14, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Bad Science, Science communication

Tags: , , , , ,

Imagery is a hugely important aspect of science communication. This is especially true when the language used to describe a scientific breakthrough is largely unfamiliar to a lay audience.

We remember images, generally, far better than we do words. Anyone can describe a scene from their favourite novel, but very few will remember the words. The image is what lasts.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail ran a story entitled “Meet the nano-spiders: The DNA robots that could one day be walking through your body”. Now, to me, the combined imagery of: (a) spiders, (b) robots, and (c) things inside my body equals a bad thing. Read the rest of this post »

Killing creativity, ruthlessly and systematically

Posted May 11, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Education

Tags: , ,

I’m a big fan of TED talks. In my view, they’re among the best things on the net (which is the whole point), along with xkcd (the ultimate webcomic for nerdy sciencey types). In the latest TED talk I’ve come across, Sir Ken Robinson asks whether schools kill creativity.

It’s an excellent talk, delivered with superb comic timing, and has struck a definite chord with me.

He makes the point that in every education system around the world, there is the same hierarchy of subjects, with science and maths at the top, then languages, and humanities and the arts at the bottom. So, someone who has a natural talent for dance, but can’t sit still in a maths class could be considered not only as an academic failure, but also a disruptive influence on others. There’s no reason why their natural creative talent shouldn’t be considered of equal value and equally nurtured. Read the rest of this post »

Evidence based policy: what are we really talking about?

Posted May 6, 2010 by James Hayton
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

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? Read the rest of this post »


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