science


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 […]


AWWTM: Won’t somebody please think of the children?

In December 2005, an article of massive importance was published in the British Medical Journal. Doctors counted up the number of children being admitted to A&E with musculoskeletal injuries (breaks and sprains — many of which would have been caused by bicycle-related incidents) on summer weekends  and discovered a startling […]


AWWTM: Risk compensation and bicycle helmets

Some months ago I left a series on bicycle helmets hanging while I got distracted with other things. We had looked at what the best evidence for the efficacy of helmets in preventing injury in the event of a crash is, and some of the reasons why we should be […]


AWWTM: Can drivers be taught a lesson?

M’coblogger Ed thinks there is a case for teaching drivers to behave — specifically by appeals to patriotism. Education programmes are a popular idea amongst cyclists, cash-strapped councils, and road safety types. I dismissed them as a solution that doesn’t work in my own post on revenge and road danger, […]


Model splicing

This is another archival repost, written for the old blog in January 2008. The central dogma of molecular biology, first described by Francis Crick in 1958, describes the flow of information between DNA, RNA, and proteins.[1] The central dogma is interesting, but I believe that its use in teaching is […]


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 […]


AWWTM: That’s not what I said, say scientists

According to SCIENTISTS, “pollution is not improved by c-charge.”  (“Improved”? These scientists are so sloppy with their language.) Journalists all over the city are this week reporting that the congestion charge has not reduced air pollution problems in central London, and that’s a fact, proven by science.  (As far as […]


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. […]


The selfish gene drives an operon

This is another archival repost first written for the old blog in 2007. On Monday I mentioned John Maynard Smith’s videos at People’s Archive. They really are marvelous, and you should watch them all. One of the topics he discusses is horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, a subject I discussed […]


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 […]


Risk compensation, shared space and unstable evolutionary strategies

This post probably doesn’t quite work, but at At War With The Motorist I continue the thread on shared space by considering the mechanism by which it works: risk compensation — the idea that when traffic management is ripped out, road users will perceive the road to be more risky […]


Journalology: What is the scientific paper?

A year ago, the discussions at the Science Online conference inspired me to explore the question “what is the scientific paper?” — and specifically, what is wrong with the scientific paper and what its future might be.  In time for this year’s conference, I’ve been reposting the the blogs on […]