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This Week in Science 2017–08–06


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2017/08/06

“Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to roll back environmental regulations and change the playing field for the fossil-fuel industry.

His administration’s actions over its first six months have followed that lead, including what many scientists say is a full-fledged battle against research and facts.

Last week the twitter account for the Department of Energy tweeted out an op-ed written by a scholar at the Cato Institute, a right-leaning think tank, with the headline: “In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists — He’s winning””


“This summer, as part of a hectic schedule that includes figure skating lessons and late-night reading binges, Claire Radin also carved out some time to dissect a rat.

And while that may not be a traditional camp experience like canoeing or sleeping under the stars, it was certainly memorable for Radin, and came at a “Mini-Med” camp through the Science Explorations Program offered through the faculty of science at York University.

“We would all take turns finding organs and taking them out. After we were done we put them all back in and sutured it up,” said Radin, 12, describing her work with a coed team of three fellow science enthusiasts.”


“It can be difficult to communicate the very latest scientific ideas to those relying on sign language, but a student is working to change that.

British Sign Language (BSL), which is used by about 87,000 people across the UK, already has ways of expressing the biological terms required for study up to roughly the end of secondary school, but not beyond. Because of that gap, the more complex, cutting-edge terms often needed in undergraduate lectures must be spelled out letter by letter.

This raises some obvious problems. If finger-spelling is used for words such as “deoxyribonucleotide” and “deoxyribonucleoside”, it becomes clear only at the very end which is intended. This is not only confusing for students but could even be dangerous in an experimental context.”


““Climate change is caused by humans.”

“Taxing the rich hurts the economy.”

“Vaccinations cause autism.”

“Heterosexuals are better parents than same-sex couples.”

You might agree with some of those statements. You might have shared articles arguing for or against them on social media. You may even have debated them with friends or co-workers.

But have you ever questioned why you believe what you believe about them, and whether you’re objectively, factually correct?

We humans fancy ourselves logical thinkers, who consider the facts and come to a rational, scientifically sound conclusion about the world around us.”


EW DELHI — Inspired by this past April’s global march for science, Indian scientists are gearing up for their own march in more than 30 cities on 9 August, organizers announced today. Their main beefs are anemic science funding and growing religious intolerance.

India’s science investments are minuscule compared with those of China and South Korea, says Prabir Purkayastha of the nonprofit Delhi Science Forum. One pillar of Indian R&D that’s suffering, he says, is the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), a nationwide network of 23 research and teaching institutions. “IITs today have second rate infrastructure compared to what they need and barring a few, there are no institutes in India which have the kind of money required for the next generation of science,” Purkayastha says. He and other march organizers are demanding that the Indian government boost R&D spending as a percentage of gross domestic product from roughly 0.85% in 2016 to 3% of GDP.

Government officials say that the march organizers’ complaints are overblown. “Their position is factually incorrect,” says Ashutosh Sharma, secretary of the central government’s Department of Science & Technology here. Science spending is booming, he says. “In the past 3 years, our budget has nearly doubled compared to earlier periods for both basic and applied research,” he says. Purkayastha counters that government departments are diverting funds marked for R&D to nonresearch programs.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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