Category Archives: science

On Nicholas Wade and the blurring of boundaries between science and fantasy

I just finished reading Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance”, his latest effort to explain all of his personal racial prejudices in the light of recent human evolution. In this book he sets out to convince readers that many aspects of modern society – the English capacity for industrialization, Jewish intelligence, the inability to establish democratic […]

Also posted in race | 48 Responses

On anonymity in science and on Twitter

A lot of people who I interact with on Twitter, and whose blogs I read, have chosen to tweet and write under pseudonyms. This puzzled me at first, but I have come to realize that there are a LOT of good reasons for people to mask their real identities online. Anonymity allows people to express […]

Also posted in publishing | Tagged , , | 103 Responses

Accepting nominations for the “Pressies” recognizing the most overhyped science press releases of 2013

Scientists get all sorts of prizes this time of year. Some win a Lasker. Others a Nobel or a Breakthrough Prize. The really lucky get a commemorative mug from PNAS. But the most important members of the scientific community get no recognition. I’m not talking about the graduate students and postdocs who actually do the […]

Posted in science | 41 Responses

FDA vs. 23andMe: How do we want genetic testing to be regulated?

Yesterday the US Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the human genetic testing company 23andMe giving them 15 days to respond to a series of concerns about their products and the way they are marketed or risk regulatory intervention. This action has set off a lot of commentary/debate about the current and future […]

Also posted in genetics | Tagged , | 62 Responses

PubMed Commons: Post publication peer review goes mainstream

I have written a lot about how I think the biggest problem in science communication today is the disproportionate value we place on where papers are published when assessing the validity and import of a work of science, and the contribution of its authors. And I have argued that the best way to change this […]

Also posted in open access, public access, publishing | 17 Responses

I confess, I wrote the Arsenic DNA paper to expose flaws in peer-review at subscription based journals

In 2011, after having read several really bad papers in the journal Science, I decided to explore just how slipshod their peer-review process is. I knew that their business depends on publishing “sexy” papers. So I created a manuscript that claimed something extraordinary - that I’d discovered a species of bacteria that uses arsenic in its DNA […]

Also posted in open access | 149 Responses

NASA paywalls first papers arising from Curiosity rover, I am setting them free

The Mars Curiosity rover has been a huge boon for NASA – tapping into the public’s fascination with space exploration and the search for life on other planets. Its landing was watched live by millions of people, and interest in the photos and videos it is collecting is so great, that NASA has had to […]

Also posted in open access | 119 Responses

With its HeLa genome agreement, the NIH embraces a expansive definition of familial consent in genetics

I wrote before about the controversy involving the release earlier this year of a genome sequence of the HeLa cell line, which was taken without consent from Henrietta Lacks as she lay dying of ovarian cancer in 1950s Baltimore. Now, the NIH has announced an agreement with Lacks’ descendants to obtain their consent for access […]

Also posted in genetics, HeLa | 5 Responses

A CHORUS of boos: publishers offer their “solution” to public access

As expected, a coalition of subscription based journal publishers has responded to the White House’s mandate that federal agencies develop systems to make the research they fund available to public by offering to implement the system themselves. This system, which they call CHORUS (for ClearingHouse for the Open Research of the United Status) would set up […]

Also posted in AAP, open access, politics, public access | 32 Responses

Apotheosis of cynicism and deceit from scholarly publishers

The Association of American Publishers, who lobby on behalf of most for-profit and society scholarly publishers, have long opposed moves to make the scientific literature more readily available to the public. But, as open access publishing has gained traction and funders increasingly demand free access to the work they fund, the AAP’s defense of the […]

Also posted in open access, politics, publishing, science and politics | Tagged , , , | 7 Responses