We made good progress in human rights with Obama as President. Now with the 115th congress and 45th president there are threats to reverse one hundred years of progress in human rights. So, I must keep my focus on advocating for human rights [link] here and everywhere I can.
Wednesday, 22 Mar 2017
My daily check of science writing starts with the Science news site [link] published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science [link] one of our most trustworthy science sources [link]. I am a member so I also get the weekly issues of Science.
The science writing in Nature and Science is aimed at scientists so is tough going for non-scientists. NewScientist [link] which I subscribe to is less tough going but still aimed at persons with some science savvy.
The best science writing for smart persons — with or without science savvy — that I know and check daily is in The Atlantic [link] which gets my highest recommendation. If you care about human rights, if you care about evidence-based public policies, then you ought to check the science writing and more there.
Best science — Best human rights
Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017
Last week Nature, one of our most trustworthy science journals, published a review of five recent books on economic inequality [link].
Two bits of bad news: 1) economies based on private profit are doomed to inequality; 2) episodes where inequality is lessened only happen with disasters.
Question: What is the evidence that private profit is best for humanity? Compared with? Data? Experiments? ? ? ?
Best science — Best human rights
Monday, 20 Mar 2017
Our March for Science [link] [link], or better marches, will happen April 22nd which by no accident is also Earth Day. One of our Earth Day icons is the Apollo earthrise photo. Nature just published a very nice blog piece about seven decades of Earth photos from off Earth especially including that icon [link]. There is a super video embedded in the piece. Don't miss this.
Best science — Best human rights
Friday, 17 Mar 2017
Our 45th president has only
. . . moved to fill just one of 46 key science and technology positions that help the government counter risks ranging from chemical and biological attacks to rising seas, a Washington Post analysis has found.
The vacancies in the 46 Senate-confirmed posts range from the president’s science adviser, to the administrators of NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The quotation above is from the Washington Post 13 Mar 2017 [link]. This good investigative piece has much valuable information and links to important resources.
Monday, 13 Mar 2017
One line of thought here over the last few weeks started with evidence that curious persons, pursuing new learning for pleasure, are more likely to follow the most trustworthy evidence [link]. My next steps were suggestions about how more good science writing might increase the number of curious persons.
Unfortunately "news media" offer declining examples of good science writing. A recent editorial [link] in Nature, one of the most trustworthy science sources, discusses problems with a recent ranking of science writing. The ranking, and the problems, do not build hope.
Friday, 10 Mar 2017
If I could join a march for science (I can't), I would march to testify that scientists are humanity's servants, serving our well being, serving our curiosities about ourselves and the world around us, serving our curiosities about the universe far beyond us.
If I could join a march for science (I can't), I would march to rededicate myself to serving humanity, serving our well being, serving our curiosities about ourselves and the world around us, serving our curiosities about the universe far beyond us.
What will you do?
Thursday, 09 Mar 2017
If we want public policies to be based on the most trustworthy evidence, then we must advocate for the sciences which can give us that most trustworthy evidence. We see signs that our 45th administration and 115th congress are might weaken our sciences, so we must not falter.
Wednesday, 08 Mar 2017
We have big problems with equity here. Up to about fifty years ago our government's role in our economy was as directed in our Constitution to "promote the general Welfare." Then about fifty years ago our government's role in our economy shifted to allowing for greater economic efficiency through mergers and acquisitions. The theory is that greater efficiency will promote the general welfare.
Tuesday, 07 Mar 2017
Students in Finland score in the top in international testing. What is the secret? This piece [link] in The Atlantic helps us understand. One key is that Finland did not aim for excellence. They aimed for equity and got excellence as a byproduct.
I think it is also important that the teaching there encourages curiosity. I do not remember anything in school here that even supported curiosity and I remember much which discouraged curiosity.
Monday, 06 Mar 2017
Only a few professions are referred to in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [link]. Article 25 refers to health and social service professions. Article 26 refers to education. Article 27 refers to science [link]. The sense is that these are key service professions.
We should treat science as a service profession. It would be a good response to enemies of science portraying scientists as out-of-touch elites. In academe scientists are also educators and are serving our curiosities very much like health professionals serving our health. Even in industries scientists are serving needs of their employers. Science serves human rights [link] in many ways [link].
Sciences are service professions. Scientists are not high priests of "truth" — scientists are servants of humanity.
Friday, 03 Mar 2017
For the long list of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [link] to be actually available for everyone takes appropriate public policies which are treated in covenants [link] to the declaration. If those public policies are not based on trustworthy evidence given by science then human rights will be violated.
Let us take that a step further. Since sharing benefits of science is a human right [link] and since benefits of science include trustworthy evidence for making public policies, when lawmakers make public policy not based on the most trustworthy evidence given by science they are violating our human rights.
Thursday, 02 Mar 2017
Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [link] says: "Everyone has the right freely . . . to share in scientific advancement and its benefits." How will this sharing occur? Is there any responsibility beyond individual initiative to facilitate this sharing? Even scientists find it very hard to share in scientific advancement outside of their own area.
Good science writing can help this sharing. However, as newspapers and news magazines hit hard times, science writers went early. Also, scientists do less writing for the general public because they face great pressure to be productive.
We need a major advocacy push on public and private agencies funding science and representing science to get those agencies to work to greatly increase good science writing.
Wednesday, 01 Mar 2017
Motivations and emotions of scientists are not different in kind from motivations and emotions of nearly all humanity. Main drivers in science are curiosity about what is beyond us [link], desire to see what is beyond us [link], desire to help make life better for others [link]. These motivations and emotions are defining features of humanity.
Science now has marvelous tools for following those drivers. Scientific advancements in my 79 years are beyond marvelous. Unfortunately, I now see less good science writing than I remember seeing in my youth.
Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017
For many people the word "truth" means no error. Others are still arguing about what "truth" might be, with several schools of thought. So, when we suggest that science finds "truth" we set a trap for ourselves. Evidence given by science, every measurement and every calculation, has some error, tiny error sometimes, but always some error.
Science gives us trustworthy evidence [link]. Evidence which is reliable. Evidence which is sensitive. Evidence which is so trustworthy that spacecraft Juno travelled all the way to Jupiter and by herself inserted herself into the planned orbit.
Monday, 27 Feb 2017
There is a very important message in this Scientific American guest blog by Lise Saffran on February 23, 2017: "The Essential Role of Storytelling in the Search for Truth" [link]. The message is that it is now the credibility of the storyteller which counts toward the credibility of the story for potential learners.
So, good science writing needs to have the science writer be part of the story. And, all persons telling the story must have motivations and emotions believable by potential learners.
Friday, 24 Feb 2017
Why do I hope for more good science writing? I hope that more good science writing will lead to more persons being motivated by pleasures of curiosity. Why do I hope for this? Persons motivated by pleasures of curiosity are more likely to make decisions based on evidence [link].
Why do I hope for more persons making decisions based on evidence? I want to be subject to evidence based public policies. My hope is that with more voters making decisions based on evidence this will lead to evidence based public policy making.
Otherwise we might lose years of progress in human rights.
Thursday, 23 Feb 2017
Good science writing includes real persons with motivations and emotions. Good science writing must also communicate the evidence given by the science. This is best done with data visualization using charts, graphs, timelines, maps. There is no end of ways to visualize data. Data visualization [link].
Good science writing must also say how trustworthy the evidence is. This can also be done well with data visualizations. Trustworthy [link].
Wednesday, 22 Feb 2017
When we do science we work very hard to keep ourselves out of the science. We do not fully succeed. We try very hard. Then, when we write about science we find it hard to include people. Stories with no people, with no motivations, with no emotions are not interesting stories.
Good science writers [link] do include the people, their motivations, their emotions. We need much more of this good science writing.
Tuesday, 21 Feb 2017
Yesterday we saw the importance of curiosity [link]. Unfortunately curiosity (other than curiosity about celebrities) is out of fashion. What might we do to increase curiosity about science?
Maybe we can get a clue from curiosity about celebrities. Maybe curiosity about celebrities comes from on our basic interest in gossip. Maybe writing about science should be like writing about gossip.
Problem here is that persons liking science well enough to write about science do not like gossip.
Monday, 20 Feb 2017
Many persons have beliefs which are very important for their cultural identity. When they encounter evidence which challenges these beliefs, this threat actually strengthens their beliefs. The new strength of those beliefs is greater as ability to understand the challenging evidence is greater.
Some curious persons get great pleasure from learning new and surprising evidence — even evidence which changes their beliefs. This pleasure motivates them more strongly than maintaining beliefs important for their cultural identity. Evidence supporting this [link].