My idea of posting small batches of tweets about things that have caught my eye on a
s have been laughably and predictably irregular.
For a change, I thought I would go all listicle and post a Top 10 Tweets About Interesting Science Things That Have Been Sitting In My Evernote Folder For The Last Month Or So - now with short, easily ignorable context. I can't be bothered to find 'hilarious' GIFs to accompany each item in the list; use your imagination.
| BMJ New paper by John Ioannidis Important read
In a short editorial article for the British Medical Journal, Ioannidis argues that current studies on the health effects of nutrition are producing spurious, exaggerated and occasionally implausible results because of a reliance on observational methods, which use unreliable dietary intake data, and focusing single, specific nutrients, which increases the chances of finding false positives. More large-scale randomised controlled trials and a stronger focus on correcting for confounding socio-economic factors are needed if nutrition research is to really make progress in identifying how nutrition increases or lowers risk for disease
Fascinating article debunks
Joseph Meister, the 9-year-old boy saved by who was the first human to be saved by Louis Pastuer's rabies vaccine, shot himself protecting Pasteur's tomb from the Nazis; Alexander Fleming is the man who developed the first antibiotic drug used in humans; John Snow single-handedly stopped the 1854 cholera outbreak; Joseph Lister is the man we have to thank for antiseptic surgery - all of these are myths which are dissected in a Nature article about how good stories have the power the spread and grow, and the dangers myth-making poses to how people understand the science and the scientific process behind them.
Richard Wiseman (@RichardWiseman)
Interesting article on
The right-brain left brain myth just doesn't seem to want to go away. It resurfaced again just this week in the form of this
doing the rounds on Facebook. It's short-hand for different ways of thinking (logical, focused and analytic versus broad-minded and creative) but that idea that different types of people use one side of their brain more than the other is a
Neuroscientist Stephen Kosslyn proposes it makes more sense, based on how the brain actually works, to thinking about a top-brain (which is involved in planning and execution of behaviours and ideas) and a bottom-brain (which organises signals from the senses and helps us confer meaning on the world) that work together in harmony. It's an interesting idea but I'm still not keen on Kosslyn's proposal that there are four modes of working (which translates to 'types' of people; Mover, Perciever, Stimulator, Adaptor) - it falls victim to the same charges of oversimplification (and 'self-helpy' language) levelled at left-brain/right-brain ideas.
Steven Pinker (@sapinker)
: Huxley had contempt for the masses, overestimated the malleability of human nature
Brave New World is one of my favourite books. 50 years after Huxley's death two perspectives are offered on just how prescient he was - or actually wasn't - with regards to two of the books main themes: sex and mass entertainment. The ubiquity and availability of internet pornography and mass/social media haven't had the effects that Huxley predicted remain very difficult to pin down even now.
@IHEU & @WHRIN and other rights groups
. Take action
The International Humanist and Ethical Union are stepping up their campaign against witch-hunts across Nigeria and the notorious preacher Helen Ukapbio. A simple and effective way of taking part is to contact the Cross River State Government on
or Twitter (@crossriverstate) with the following messages: "Please take action to #stopthewitchhunt by Helen Ukpabio. Cross River State’s good name is being tarnished and children abused.” Or “Enough is enough. Child witch hunting in Cross River must be stopped. Please hold Helen Ukpabio to account. #stopthewitchhunt"
I became more aware of the problem and wrote a little bit about it
after a fund-raising concert organised by
last year. Here's a recording of a powerful performance by an amazing teenage Norwegian singer-songwriter called Margrete who wrote a song especially for the event:
Chris Chambers (@chrisdc77)
This is HUGE. Study
part of research ethics in psychology & cog neuroscience
Pre-registration requires researchers to clearly describe the research design and methodology in an open and publicly accessible place before they carry out their study. Setting out all this information beforehand means that better tabs can be kept on how exactly studies are done, which studies are completed and when, and that they were conducted the way that was originally planned. It makes it more difficult for researchers to change focus halfway through a study, depending on what they do or don't find, and generally cherry-picking the data. It will also help stop negative trials from staying unpublished, a huge and depressingly common problem.
is the campaign to get all randomised clinical trials (RCTs) registered before they take place. Revisions to the Declaration of the Helsinki Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects may mean that pre-registration of study design may have to been for all psychological research too. I welcome preregistration whole-heartedly. It will bring greater transparency and accountability, which can only strengthen research; and it will help with making psychological studies easier to reproduce, an resolved problem that is
Here is Jo Røislien with
I attended in the TEDxOslo event in late October (just have't had time to write anything up yet, and to be honest, probably won't now). Statistician Jo Røislien talks about the problems with Big Data, drawing on the classic
Brian D. Earp (@briandavidearp)
21 Everyday Things That Most People Don't Know Were
Some of the things in the list might seem trivial but they're a reminder that women scientists and engineers are often under-appreciated and how their contribution often under-played or wiped from history all-together. I whole-heartedly recommend the the
A Passion for Science
e-book, released as part of 2013's
, which is a fantastic collection of stories about the contribution of women to some of the biggest breakthroughs in science.
Stephen Curry (@Stephen_Curry)
annoys many, scares the easily scared, accomplishes relatively little, by @melvillehouse
Last month, biologist, John Bohannon, published an story in Science called
which outlined how a research article he had written was accepted for publication in more than 150 academic journals, despite the fact that every single aspect of it was made-up (including author, institution and data) and that it had deliberately contained basic errors in analysis and interpretation of the data.
Bohannon's stunt, which was designed to test (or show up) the rigour of the peer review process applied by
backfired a little, not least because by failing to send his paper to traditional subscription journals Bohannon had no control measure against which to test whether it was open access that was the problem as opposed to just poor peer review practices (which likely exist to seem degree across the board).
The debates about the merits and difficulties with open access and the future of academic publishing is an important one. Done properly, this stunt might have been able to contribute something a little more constructive.
Gunnar R Tjomlid (@CiViX)
With 2000+ global studies confirming safety,
One of the strongest reasons for anti-GMO sentiment persisting is the consistent message that not enough research has been done on the potential side-effects. A recent
published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology found that in just the last decade (2002 to October 2012),1783 studies had been published looking at the safety of genetically engineered crops. The overall conclusion from this staggering number of studies is that "
The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops."
Still, don't expect the anti-GMO protesters to change their minds based on the evidence any time soon.