lay science


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Lies, Damned Lies, and Tissue Culture

I originally wrote this in Feb 2008, and later updated it for the old Lay Science. While making sure that this website was up-to-date, it occurred to me that this post would have disappeared with the rest of the Lay Science site. I have forgotten what updates I made when […]


Scientists bend observation to fit evolution

This is another archival repost, originally posted on the old blog in feb 2009, during the Darwin 200 celebrations. I wrote the majority of this post a couple of years ago, when I had the intention to do a regular “creationist claim” feature, but for some reason never got around […]


Simple rules

This is another archival repost, originally written for the old blog in november 2007. The main driving force for creationists is not science, but ethics. Their trump card is that “evolution is immoral”: they cite “might makes right” and eugenics, quote Darwin’s supposedly racist terminology in The Origin and Voyage, […]


Bisphenol A might make you fat

(This is another archival repost, written for the old blog in 2009.) If you’ll excuse my tabloid headline writer… A year ago, I wrote Lies, damn lies, and tissue culture, describing some of the reasons why caution and healthy skepticism are required when assessing the conclusions of tissue culture studies. […]


Lay Science: Suspending Disbelief

I was listening to an old episode of the SETI institute’s podcast Are We Alone, in which they talked to a CSICOP (or whatever it is they call themselves these days) investigator. He described how he approached claims of the paranormal: he was neutral, and he “suspended disbelief” while he […]


Lay Science: The Selfish Genius

This was originally written a year ago on a now disused blog. I’m reposting it here because I enjoyed writing it so much that I wouldn’t want it to disappear. People love a good argument with Richard Dawkins. So many people are so desperately seeking reassurance that he is wrong, […]


Lay Science: Society of Homeopaths launch photography rights grab

Several my usual topics collide as pseudoscience exploits photography for some bad marketing.  The Society of Homeopaths, an organisation representing British homeopaths (including many who advocate the use of their failed medicine as malaria and HIV/AIDS treatment), are employing the cheap trick of the “photography competition” rights grab.  They’re not […]


Lay Science: On Gillian McKeith

After renewed fighting between Bad Science’s Ben Goldacre and make-believe scientist Gillian McKeith, the skeptical blogosphere has been taking a look at itself and wondering whether it’s being a bit too mean, and putting people off.  My contribution at Lay Science says ‘no’: there is value in making fun of […]


Lay Science: The Way The World Is

I’ve posted a quick review of The Way The World Is, physicist-vicar John Polkinghorne’s attempt at explaining to other scientists why he is a Christian.  It’s a tedious and embarrassing piece of work.  The book, that is.  The post, I hope, is at least entertainingly sarcastic.  Read it here.


Lay Science: Further research is necessary

The paper that initiated the great MMR hoax has been thoroughly discredited and retracted by the journal that published it, but the anti-vaxxers still claim — and hoodwink some parents — that more research is required to establish whether or not vaccines cause autism. I thought therefore that it was […]


Lay Science: Lies, damned lies, and tissue culture

Skepticism is about critical thinking and knowing how to avoid being fooled by charlatans and the honest but mistaken.  Over at Lay Science I explain one way that you can get fooled: by people citing the activities of cells in a dish as scientific proof for anything and everything.  Read […]


In which Johnny Ball demonstrates why we can be confident that AGW is happening

This is an archive repost, originally posted on the old blog shortly after Johnny Ball had made his first appearance at Nine Lessons And Carols For Godless People. Skepticism — the movement and the everyday scientific method — is about vetting the new ideas that want to take up residence […]


A rambling introduction to chemical carcinogenesis

This is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2008. Regular readers may have noticed that I get rather annoyed by the casual use of the word “chemical” to mean “synthetic chemical”, and the use of the naturalistic fallacy (natural good, chemical bad) that is associated with this […]


Experiment avoidance: a short history

I’ve been reading John Gribbin’s In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat. He casually mentions the atomic (or, rather, ‘atomistic’) theories of the ancients — in particular Democritus. Gribbin accuses historians of science and popular writers of attributing too much to Democritus, whose ideas about the world do not resemble modern physics. […]


Carefully sabotaging the genome

This is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2007. The “Thursday Paper” column on the blog is for reporting on a recently published peer-reviewed research. Apologies if this one isn’t so polished, but I have a train to catch. It would appear to be medical genetics week […]


A brief taxonomy of mutation

This post is an archive from the old blog, originally written in 2007. I’ve been discussing in the “Sunday syndrome” column various disorders caused by genetic aberrations, but I haven’t really explained how such aberrations occur.  There are several different types of aberration that occur, and several different mechanisms that […]