Archive by category | Popular Press

The science of dignity

A recent Nature news article regarding the latest battle on the animal research front takes us to Switzerland. There, the University of Zurich and another research institute are taking a case to the Swiss Supreme Court arguing against the rulings of a lower court, which banned two primate-based experiments that had been approved by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The proposed experiments were said to potentially offend the dignity of the animals, according to an external advisory board, overruling a decision by the veterinary office (responsible for animal welfare) who allowed the experiments to proceed.  Read more

The final installment

With this entry, I hereby retire from reporting on the details surrounding Dr. James Watson’s race row. The subject of IQ and race may rage on in this blog, but it is time to move past the tabloid reporting. Fittingly, I felt that we should return to where it all began…with the release of a new book. Here is a review on Dr. Watson’s Avoid Boring People by Jerry Coyne, a geneticist at the University of Chicago. Dr. Coyne paints a complex picture of the author, and attempts to be rather candid, succeeding for the most part. In addition, he does not hide his obvious admiration for the man. You can feel free to contrast Dr. Coyne’s review with the opinion of another critic. No mercy given by that Nature editor.  Read more

When it rains…it pours

I don’t know what it is about Jim Watson and my blog posting, but every time I mention him (as I did in my previous entry), something else pops up and I have to talk about him again. While doing my morning reading, I stumbled upon an entry from the DrugMonkey blog that was simply too good to pass up. Jim Watson is more mixed race than anyone thought, with 16% of his genes likely to have come from an African great-grandparent, as reported in the Sunday Times.  Read more

The column that Dr. Watson needed to read

There was a great Op-Ed piece in the NY Times yesterday, written by Dr. Richard Nisbett, that provides a nice set of studies challenging the notion of inherent intelligence differences between races. Dr. Nisbett communicates these findings to the reader in a very clear fashion, providing good information for those of you who followed the news and debate underlying the Watson scandal.  Read more

“All the News That’s Fit to Print” (except the part about potential conflicts of interest)

Since the recent fall-out of the recent NY Times OP-Ed piece discussing the use of fMRI to predict the inclinations and feelings of swing voters is still fresh in our minds, I wanted to simply provide the link to a recent PLoS ONE paper that touches on the general concept of the media reporting on science.  Read more

Science for the masses

Everyone is fascinated by science. When discoveries advancing our knowledge of the brain are made, these get extra attention. Why? Because we want to understand how we think, feel and function. When scientists discuss their research with the general public, people usually believe them, not dwelling on the details, but instead focusing on what implications a particular study might have on their own thoughts or opinions. This makes sense, because the general public is not in a position to evaluate the technical merits of most neuroscience manuscripts. That is why we have the peer review system and academic journals, like Nature Neuroscience. Once the study is reviewed favorably and is published, the general public can then be told of the exciting new progress.  Read more

Retracting creationism

I decided that all of Action Potential’s many readers down at SfN are probably in need of a little lift at the halfway point of the mother of all neuroscience meetings. It has been almost 3 days of non-stop data input and your brain, if not full, wishes it were. So let’s take a brief interlude from the rigors of neuroscience to discuss a lighter and more relaxed topic: Creationism.  Read more