Category Archives: Items of Interest

Congratulations to Emily Willingham & David Grimes

It makes me very happy to share the announcement that our friend Dr. Emily Willingham is joint winner of the 2014 John Maddox Prize for Standing Up for Science. Emily is brave. That isn’t an adjective that one gets to use for many science writers; but Emily is brave. She has continued to bring clarity of scientific evidence to controversial issues such as autism, vaccines, school shootings, and parenting despite continuous abuse, legal threats, and other challeges.

The judges awarded the prize to freelance journalist Dr Emily Willingham and early career scientist Dr David Robert Grimes for courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty and hostility in doing so…Emily Willingham, a US writer, has brought discussion about evidence, from school shootings to home birth, to large audiences through her writing. She has continued to reach across conflict and disputes about evidence to the people trying to make sense of them. She is facing a lawsuit for an article about the purported link between vaccines and autism. – Sense About Science

Although we do not know Dr. David Grimes, he also deserves our congratulations, thanks, and deep respect for his work:

David Grimes writes bravely on challenging and controversial issues, including nuclear power and climate change. He has persevered despite hostility and threats, such as on his writing about the evidence in the debate on abortion in Ireland. He does so while sustaining his career as a scientist at the University of Oxford. – Sense About Science

I have received phone calls from a very distressed David Grimes late at night over death threats, looking for a second opinion about how to cope with threats to his livelihood and threats of physical harm against him. While David is no push over, the constant barrage of abuse does take its toll and it’s very brave of him to continue to speak out against scientific falsehoods in the media when he’s under no obligation to as a researcher. – Daniel Murray

Congratulations to Dr. Emily Willingham and Dr. David Grimes.

Spamalot

Sometimes, life is more fun when one’s email spam filters are just a wee bit leaky*.

Dear Sir/madam,

I would like to purchase a large quantity of goods with good quality from your company.Kindly get back to me with a price list I wait for your immediate response.

If I had any belief that there was someone on the other end of this metaphorical (but also kind of literal) line:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I regret to inform you that we sell very few goods and that they are of embarassingly poor quality. We charge a flate rate of one billion dollars.

*There is also the whole false positive/false negative issue. If you don’t want significant false positives (ie, missing an email about an important meeting), then you usually have to live with a few negatives (see above).

Science of the Lambs

Screenshot 2014-10-20 11.56.43To help get us in the mood for Halloween, our most recent SCInema target was the psychological thriller The Silence of the Lambs.

Some participants may have found the ease with which they could put their thesis advisor’s words into the mouth of a psychopathic killer a bit disturbing, that should not take away from your enjoyment of the sciencified quotes one bit.

Epic-er

This was what was missing* from the movie Epic. I only wish we had acquired this treasure in time to donate it to the production of Stalking Squirrels for Science.
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*Also missing, doing anything nearly as clever as the mouse being like grizzly bear thing to play with the stereotype of insects and bats being creepy and evil.

Science for the People: High Price

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This week, Science for the People is looking at the science and policy of treating drug addiction. They’re joined by psychology professor and researcher Carl Hart to talk about his book “High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society.” And they’ll speak to Donald MacPherson, Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, about harm reduction strategies to reduce the negative consequences of drug use.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, a completely biased and cooperative member of the team.