I spent a long time thinking about how to engage meaningfully with nonscientists after the election (truth be told, I think a lot about engaging meaningfully with nonscientists all the time). And it turns out, the Nature Editorial Board is thinking about it too:
“Some would respond with ‘don’t bother’ — picking holes in science is just a ‘denialist’ tactic, and correcting such people will have no influence given the imminent new political shape of Washington DC. On the contrary, Nature persists in the belief that researchers who take action by engaging with people beyond their peers in support of the evidence can make a positive difference.”
Read about it over at Nature.
I hope that the current political climate has galvanized scientists in the US to become more engaged. To climb down from the Ivory Tower and get in the trenches of science communication. To fight for our funding, and for the future of scientific research in the United States.
Along those lines, you’ll be seeing a few “what can we do to help now” posts in the coming days. First up, from the American Naturalist blog, what can graduate students do in a science world that doesn’t always appreciate science.
- Stay focused
- Think of others
- Be cautious around undergraduates
- Explore your community & be an advocate
- Get better at communicating science
- Plan for the worst
Scientists on at MIT are proposing to introduce a mouse that has its genes edited to resist Lyme disease. Given the high prevalence of Lyme disease on the small New England Island, the removal of Lyme disease from the mouse population (who harbor before it infects humans) would then directly effect how prevalent it is in the human population.
But really, this story is about one of the first real world examples of CRISPR, the revolutionary gene editing tool.
Read about it over at the New Yorker.
How bad is climate change? How is it currently effecting coastal communities? What can we do to stop it?
An interesting blog post from the World Resources Institute addresses just these questions!
Check it out here, and keep looking out for garage octopuses.
Two scientist in Germany are trying to determine the best way to teach German to nonnative speakers.
As a nonnative speaker currently living in and trying to learn German, this study is directly relevant to me. But more importantly, Germany has had a very open policy on immigration, resulting in millions of refugees from Syria admitted to Germany within the last two years.
Germany is committed to making these people productive members of society, it’s no surprise that they are funding research to find the best way to integrate these new members into the German landscape.
Read about it over at NPR!
The thing that scares me the most about the current political climate is the idea that we are living in a post-fact world.
As someone who works to validate evidence, and uses data to address question, the idea of coming to conclusion in the absence of such facts is terrifying, but the idea that other people don’t believe the evidence because it goes against their personal doctrine… I can’t express in words how fundamentally terrifying this has become.
Over at Scientific America, there is an excellent article about people who don’t believe facts and what’s to be done about how to proceed.
1. keep emotions out of the exchange, 2. discuss, don’t attack (no ad hominem and no ad Hitlerum), 3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately, 4. show respect, 5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion, and 6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.
Before 2016 ended John Hawks (Paleoanthropologist) asked the simple question on facebook:
“What questions in the science of human evolution have not received enough attention? Which ones should we be investigating in 2017?”
The answers will largely surprise you, and mostly revolved around trust. In the age of people doubting science and facts, these are important questions to be asking, and even more important for academics and scientists to be addressing.
Read the full article here.