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Why everything you know about wolf packs is wrong
Mech explains, his studies of wild wolves have found that wolves live in families: two parents along with their younger cubs. Wolves do not have an innate sense of rank; they are not born leaders or born followers. The "alphas" are simply what we would call in any other social group "parents."
wolf  alpha  false  family  science 
11 weeks ago by Quercki
The ENIAC Programmers: how women invented modern programming and were then written out of the history books / Boing Boing
Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project, writes about the buried history of the pivotal role played by women in the creation of modern computing, a history that is generally recounted as consisting of men making heroic technical and intellectual leaps while women did some mostly simple, mechanical work around the periphery.

Kleiman summarizes her twenty years of research into the programmers of the ENIAC -- the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the first modern computer -- whose first programmers were six women: Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Betty Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence.

The ENIAC programmers had to invent programming as we know it, working without programming codes (these were invented a few years later for UNIVAC by Betty Holberton): they "broke down the differential calculus ballistics trajectory program" into small steps the computer could handle, then literally wired together the program by affixing cables and flicking the machine's 3,000 switches in the correct sequences. To capture it all, they created meticulous flowcharts that described the program's workings.

The women stayed on the ENIAC project after the war because "no solider returning home from the battlefield could program ENIAC,"
women  science  computer  programming  history  hidden 
june 2019 by Quercki
James Damore’s Google Memo Gets Science All Wrong | WIRED
Damore is hardly the first person to use science to justify social norms or political preferences. Science has, too often in human history, been a tool for literal dehumanization as a rationale for oppression. It happened to people of African descent in America; to the poor of the Victorian era; to women in the years leading up to suffrage; and to Jews, people of nonbinary gender, Roma, people with disabilities, and so on in Nazi Germany. Historians try to wall off those ideas now—eugenics, phrenology, social Darwinism—but each, in its day, was just science.

With hindsight you can see that those pursuits weren’t science, and you can aim those 20/20 lenses at Damore too. What he’s advocating is scientism—using undercooked research as coverage for answering oppression with a shrug.

Science has, too often in human history, been a tool for literal dehumanization as a rationale for oppression.

In that context, social science’s incoherency problem becomes disastrous. Throw the most red-state conservative physicist you can find into a room with a pinko-commie physicist and then toss in the latest data from the Large Hadron Collider. Mostly, the physicists will agree on which subatomic particles they can or can’t find.
science  google  gender  sexism 
may 2019 by Quercki
Young Trans Children Know Who They Are - The Atlantic
When the 85 gender-nonconforming children first enrolled in Olson’s study, her team administered a series of five tests that asked what toys and clothes they preferred; whether they preferred hanging out with girls or boys; how similar they felt to girls or boys; and which genders they felt they currently were or would be. Together, these markers of identity gave the team a way to quantify each kid’s sense of gender.
children who showed stronger gender nonconformity at this point were more likely to socially transition. So, for example, assigned boys who had the most extreme feminine identities were most likely to be living as girls two years later. This link couldn’t be explained by other factors, such as how liberal the children’s parents were. Instead, the children’s gender identity predicted their social transitions. “I think this wouldn’t surprise parents of trans kids, and my findings are often ‘duh’ findings for them,” says Olson. “It seems pretty intuitive.”
trans  transgender  science  data 
january 2019 by Quercki
Werner's Nomenclature of Colours - Google Sheets
on a public Google Doc, Rougeux compiled Syme’s colors and added a few 21st-century definitions of his own: The hex codes for each of the 18th-century hues, from Skimmed Milk White (#e6e1c9) to Veinous Blood Red (#3f3033).
color  art  natural  science  animal  vegetables  mineral 
september 2018 by Quercki
Big nutrition research scandal sees 6 more retractions, purging popular diet tips | Ars Technica
Thus, JAMA editors retracted the six articles.
Years of work

One had appeared in JAMA in 2005. The study claimed to find that large serving bowl sizes at a Super Bowl party were linked to more snack eating.

Three had been published in JAMA Internal Medicine. A 2012 study claimed that hungry people go for starchy foods first over vegetables. Another study in 2013 claimed similarly that hungry grocery shoppers go for more calories but not necessarily more food. And a study from 2014 was reported as finding that the more distracting a TV show, the less viewers watched how much they ate and thus ate more.

The last two retracted studies were from JAMA Pediatrics. One from 2008 suggested that kids who are told to clean their plates by their moms were statistically more likely to request more food. The other, published in 2013, claimed that kids made healthier school lunch choices if they pre-ordered their meals rather than made decisions in the lunch line, where they can smell less-healthy entrees.
diet  nutrition  science  fraud 
september 2018 by Quercki
Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post
For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets. Since 1959, research has shown that 95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail and that two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. The reasons are biological and irreversible. As early as 1969, research showed that losing just 3 percent of your body weight resulted in a 17 percent slowdown in your metabolism—a body-wide starvation response that blasts you with hunger hormones and drops your internal temperature until you rise back to your highest weight. Keeping weight off means fighting your body’s energy-regulation system and battling hunger all day, every day, for the rest of your life.

The second big lesson the medical establishment has learned and rejected over and over again is that weight and health are not perfect synonyms.
fat  science  health  stories  pictures 
september 2018 by Quercki
The Intersex Roadshow: The Phalloclitoris: Anatomy and Ideology
What we are not usually taught is that that all humans start out in the womb with the same initial genital structure. This is certainly studied by embryologists, if not familiar to the general public, and I will give a basic tour in this post. I'm not going to use the language embryologists do, though, because I find it very odd. They refer to the initial human form as the "indifferent stage," often say that the genitals "appear female," yet term the sensitive end of the genital structure the "phallus." The truth is that we all start out appearing neither female nor male, and we certainly don't start out with penises. We all start out intersex. Our initial form (which some of us retain) is pictured at the top of this post. Let's examine it.

Human Genital Development
We all begin life with genitals that have four basic external elements. At the top is the part numbered 1 on my drawing: the sensitive end of the phalloclitoris, which can differentiate into the head of the penis or clitoris. In the center is structure 2: an inset membrane that can widen or can seal as the fetus develops. It will form the urethra, and the vagina, if any. Around it is structure 3, which is capable of differentiation into either a phallic shaft, or clitoral body and labia minora. And at the outside is the fourth part, the labioscrotal swellings, which can develop into labia majora or a scrotum.

There is a lot of variation in how each of the four basic parts of the genitalia develop from person to person in all of us. For example, we acknowledge with a lot of rib-elbowing the variation in penile size. Variation in the size and shape of genitalia, and in other parts of the body, is part of human diversity.
sex  anatomy  development  intersex  science 
september 2018 by Quercki
Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden

The treatment for transsexualism is sex reassignment, including hormonal treatment and surgery aimed at making the person's body as congruent with the opposite sex as possible. There is a dearth of long term, follow-up studies after sex reassignment.

To estimate mortality, morbidity, and criminal rate after surgical sex reassignment of transsexual persons.

A population-based matched cohort study.

Sweden, 1973-2003.

All 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males) in Sweden, 1973–2003. Random population controls (10∶1) were matched by birth year and birth sex or reassigned (final) sex, respectively.

Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.
transgender  mortality  morbidity  crime  sexual_assault  science 
september 2018 by Quercki
The Etiology of Depression - Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children - NCBI Bookshelf
The purpose of this chapter is to review what is known or suspected about the causes of depression. Fundamentally, such depressive symptoms as sad mood, pessimism, and lethargy, are universal human experiences and are considered normal reactions to the struggles, disappointments, and losses of everyday life. However, for some individuals, the intensity and persistence of depressive symptoms are not typical, and a challenge for researchers has been to understand why some individuals experience marked and enduring depressive reactions and others do not. This chapter discusses some of the characteristics of individuals that may make them vulnerable, as well as the features of environments that are particularly likely to provoke depression. The chapter also emphasizes the interplay between persons and environments—the ways in which, for example, stressors may provoke depression but depression further influences social environments, often a vicious cycle that promotes chronic or recurrent depression. A further aspect of this bidirectional influence is the frequent co-occurrence of depression and other disorders, which may complicate its course and treatment. It is noted that some individuals are remarkably resilient in the face of adversity, and a further challenge to the field is to understand such processes.

The first topic to address is that not all depressions are alike; therefore, different etiological models and perspectives are likely to apply to different expressions of depressive disorder.
depression  science 
january 2018 by Quercki
Sexual Harassment in Science Increases At Field Sites and Labs Around the World
Confronting offenders did not deter the perpetrators’ behavior. Quite the opposite: Women were only rewarded (i.e. given the best research assignments) if they consented to harassment or sexual advances. “It became clear that I was going to have to play along a little bit,” another respondent said of her harasser. “I had a professional connection with this person, but he expected me to become his next mistress.” Many female scientists said the behavior continued even after they left the field sites and that the psychological trauma compromised their ability to revisit, analyze, and publish their data. Several of the women were able to pinpoint exactly how their abuse led to their career stalling. Five of the women said they had to leave the sciences altogether.
science  women  sexual_harassment 
december 2017 by Quercki
Beyond Just a Cells Unit by Gretchen Kraig-Turner
Every year when I distribute The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot to my biotechnology class, I am greeted with “Turner, this isn’t English class!” And every year I tell my students, “I promise you: This book is going to change the way you think about science. Give it a chance.”

I make this promise to my students because I know the beginning of the story will pique their interest. Skloot brilliantly describes the beginnings of both Henrietta Lacks, the woman, and HeLa, the first immortal cell line, in a way that gains the interest of a wide swath of students. Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah, is quoted on the first page: “When I go to the doctor for checkups I always say my mother was HeLa. They get all excited, tell me stuff like how her cells helped make my blood pressure medicines and anti-depression pills . . . but they don’t never explain more than just sayin, Yeah, your mother was on the moon, she been in nuclear bombs, and made that polio vaccine. . . . But I always thought it was strange, if our mother’s cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can’t afford to see no doctors? I used to get so mad. . . . But I don’t got it in me no more to fight. I just want to know who my mother was.”
cancer  HeLa  science  education  BlackLivesMatter 
december 2017 by Quercki
Meet Mary Somerville: The Brilliant Woman for Whom the Word “Scientist” Was Coined – Brain Pickings
That women should face such an Everestine climb toward inclusion and equality is a piece of curious and rather cruel cultural irony, for the very word “scientist” didn’t always have the overwhelmingly male connotations it has had in recent history. In fact, it was a coined for a woman — the Victorian polymath Mary Somerville (December 26, 1780–November 28, 1872), who had tutored pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace and later introduced her to Charles Babbage, thus sparking their legendary collaboration on the world’s first computer. Somerville’s 1834 treatise On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences so impressed her peers, readers, and reviewers that “man of science” — the term used to refer to a person who had advanced the progress of knowledge — seemed suddenly inappropriate and obsolete.
science  Mary_Somerville 
november 2017 by Quercki
Neuroscientists Discover People Who Like To 'Sing' Maybe Smarter and More Creative
inging (even in the shower and badly) activates our right temporal lobe and releases endorphins that help make us smarter, healthier, creative and overall much happier. And good news for all you choir and glee club members out there, singing in a group is even better for your brain and body!

Studies show happier moods among choir singers. They report feeling less anxious, depressed and overall a better satisfaction with life.  The research suggests that being creative together is actually a product of evolution. Singing together was and still is a social tool that brings us closer together as humans.

For years, science has been trying to explain why singing has such an incredible impact on people.
singing  science  health 
november 2017 by Quercki
Frontiers | Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers | Psychology
Choir singing is known to promote wellbeing. One reason for this may be that singing demands a slower than normal respiration, which may in turn affect heart activity. Coupling of heart rate variability (HRV) to respiration is called Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). This coupling has a subjective as well as a biologically soothing effect, and it is beneficial for cardiovascular function. RSA is seen to be more marked during slow-paced breathing and at lower respiration rates (0.1 Hz and below). In this study, we investigate how singing, which is a form of guided breathing, affects HRV and RSA. The study comprises a group of healthy 18 year olds of mixed gender. The subjects are asked to; (1) hum a single tone and breathe whenever they need to; (2) sing a hymn with free, unguided breathing; and (3) sing a slow mantra and breathe solely between phrases. Heart rate (HR) is measured continuously during the study. The study design makes it possible to compare above three levels of song structure.
singing  science  research 
november 2017 by Quercki
Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour
We hypothesised that female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behaviour from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status. To test this hypothesis, we used an online first-person shooter video game that removes signals of dominance but provides information on gender, individual performance, and skill. We show that lower-skilled players were more hostile towards a female-voiced teammate, especially when performing poorly. In contrast, lower-skilled players behaved submissively towards a male-voiced player in the identical scenario. This difference in gender-directed behaviour became more extreme with poorer focal-player performance. We suggest that low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimize the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena. Higher-skilled players, in contrast, were more positive towards a female relative to a male teammate
science  sexism  videogames 
november 2017 by Quercki
Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words
Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words © 2005-2016 Keith Enevoldsen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
science  chemistry  **** 
july 2017 by Quercki
Science Has Consistently Underestimated Women Because Scientists Are Sexist - Broadly
"Science has been historically sexist towards women, and this has affected what research tells us about women," Saini explains in a phone call with Broadly. "I wanted to understand patriarchy through the lens of science."

Historically, women have been consistently excluded from the scientific community—whether it's Marie Curie being rejected from the French Académie des Sciences in 1911, the year she won her second Nobel Prize, or the appalling shortage of women in the STEM sector. "It meant there was space for prejudice to creep in," Saini argues, citing figures like Darwin, who was as fixed in his misogyny as those fossils he loved to study so much (famously, arguing that women were less evolved than men.)

Angela Saini . Photo courtesy of subject
Although Darwin is dead, his legacy remains: there's still scientific work being done today that reinforces misogynistic views.
science  misogyny  patriarchy 
july 2017 by Quercki
The Neuroscience of Singing
The science is in. Singing is really, really good for you and the most recent research suggests that group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

The good feelings we get from singing in a group are a kind of evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively.

The research suggests that creating music together evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes sang and danced together to build loyalty, transmit vital information and ward off enemies.
singing  science  **** 
june 2017 by Quercki
Sexism in Science: Audience Member Defends Silenced Physicist | Observer
“I was overwhelmed, deeply moved and so encouraged at how affected the other audience members were when I spoke up,” she added in a statement to the Observer. “To know that so many were thinking and feeling the same thing was amazing and unifying and gave me a deep sense that change was literally one small act away.”

Read also: 17 Examples of Mansplaining So Cringeworthy Your Jaw Will Drop

The post has over 250 comments, with users calling Talkington “empowering” and “a goddess.” Several commenters even suggested that Talkington submit her story to The New Yorker to troll Holt.

But without a doubt, the most powerful comment came from Hubeny herself, who found out about Talkington’s post when she got off the plane in California this morning.

“I applaud your heroism in standing up for what you believe in!” she wrote. “I know well the shaky feeling and subsequent exhilarated contentment in the knowledge of having done the right thing, and I think that doing so has become more crucial than ever. Your behavior was inspiring, and I’m glad that many of those inspired shared their gratitude with you.”
sexism  science  solution  mansplaining 
june 2017 by Quercki
(48) So, after thinking about this over night, I've... - Marilee Talkington
something that happened at the WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL....|
Veronika Hubeny, the only woman on the panel is barely given any opportunity to speak. And the Moderator, Jim Holt even acknowledges this....
He asked her to describe her two theories of string theory that seem to contradict one another.
And THEN, without letting her answer, proceeded to answer for her and describe HER theories in detail without letting her speak for herself.
We could clearly see that she was trying to speak up. But he continued to talk over her and dominate the space for several minutes....
So at some point while he is Still talking about Her theories, I just can't handle it any longer.
With my hands shaking,
I finally say from my seat in the 2nd row of the audience, as clearly, directly and loudly as possible;
"Let. Her. Speak. Please!"
The moderator stops.
They all stop.
The auditorium drops into silence.
You could hear a pin drop.
And then the audience explodes with applause and screams.
Jim Holt eventually sat back, only after saying I was heckling him
And he let her speak.
And of course, she was brilliant.
sexism  science  solutions  allies 
june 2017 by Quercki
Global Warming and Climate Change skepticism examined
Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?
climatechange  science  reference  *** 
june 2017 by Quercki
'Let our Indigenous voices be heard': Indigenous scientists join March for Science - CBC News | Indigenous
"As members of the Indigenous science community, we endorse and support the March for Science — and we encourage Indigenous people and allies to participate," reads a letter signed by over 1,500 scientists, professors, doctors, academics and other professionals.

"Let our Indigenous voices be heard."

Indigenous knowledge 'not as privileged'

While the document endorses the march, it's also a reminder to the scientific community that Indigenous knowledge is just as important as Western science. Encouraging that concept is a challenge for Indigenous people in science and academics, said Gladys Rowe, a Cree Ph.D. student originally from the Fox Lake Cree Nation in northern Manitoba who also signed the support letter.

"There's a perception within the Academy that Indigenous knowledge is less than and it's not as privileged as the Western way of understanding the world," she said.

New genetic research must include more Indigenous people: Hawaiian geneticist
"In Canada, specifically, a lot of institutions talk about 'Indigenizing' — but when you actually get down to the work of it, there's so many barriers and a lot of those barriers have to do with what is framed as science."
Indigenous  Native_American  science  privilege 
april 2017 by Quercki
These Native American Scholars Marched For Indigenous Science
WASHINGTON— From Sydney to San Francisco, indigenous scientists and scholars celebrated traditional knowledge on Saturday, as thousands across the world demonstrated at March For Science events.

Indigenous knowledge and practices are often dismissed as mythology or “quaint stories,” Melissa Nelson, associate professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University, told BuzzFeed News.

“There are numerous contemporary indigenous sciences based on a long tradition and history. They need to be validated as such — not as folklore,” said Nelson, who is Anishinaabe.

With the global March For Science events being held on Saturday, Nelson was part of a group that wrote a declaration arguing that indigenous science, including ancient practices of conservation and healing, could complement dominant “Western science” and be useful at a time when people are looking for ways to tackle problems, such as climate change and issues of sustainability.

More than 1,700 people, including members of more than 40 indigenous groups, and allies, signed the statement.
Indigenous  Native_American  science 
april 2017 by Quercki
Protesters take to the streets in SF March for Science - SFGate
See first video 21 seconds. See second video for Occupella
A heaving mass of humanity stretching from the Ferry Building to City Hall waved signs, chanted, sang and danced Saturday in a giant, celebratory March for Science, one of hundreds held around the globe to commemorate Earth Day. The roiling crowd, tens of thousands strong, blocked San Francisco’s main thoroughfare for at least two hours as families, children, immigrants and lab-coat-wearing protesters enthusiastically demonstrated their enthusiasm for science.
“This is not partisan. Everybody is affected,” said Marlene Mills, 69, of Larkspur, who was especially worried about potential cuts in climate research. “The administration better listen because science is so important, you have to take care of it.”
The driving force behind the nationwide marches was the widely held perception that President Trump has little regard for what science can bring or what it has done for the country.
March  science  video  occupella 
april 2017 by Quercki
I Went to the 'Contact' Radio Telescope with the Astrophysicist Behind Twitter's All-Time Sickest Burn - Motherboard
And on August 15, 2016, Mack fired off a Tweet that would cause a really big spike. "Honestly climate change scares the heck out of me and it makes me so sad to see what we're losing because of it," she wrote.

In response, a user said, "Maybe you should learn some actual SCIENCE then, and stop listening to the criminals pushing the #GlobalWarming SCAM!"


Mack chuckled to herself as she walked down the hallway after writing this reply: "I dunno, man, I already went and got a PhD in astrophysics. Seems like more than that would be overkill at this point." She didn't think anyone but That Guy would notice.

But, uh, J.K. Rowling noticed.

"The existence of Twitter is forever validated by the following exchange," Rowling tweeted to her millions of followers, along with a screenshot of Mack's burn.
science  twitter  Katie_Mack  gamergate 
april 2017 by Quercki
"I Made That Bitch Famous" | Mother Jones
In Donald Trump's 2011 book Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again, the president-to-be made an astonishing claim: Lady Gaga likely owed her international fame to none other than...Donald Trump. "She became a big star and maybe she became a star because I put her on the Miss Universe pageant," he wrote. "It's very possible, who knows what would have happened without it, because she caused a sensation."

The problem goes beyond Trump, of course. Women, especially women of color, are routinely denied credit for their ideas, creativity, genius, and success (not to mention they're paid less than men for full-time work). So, in honor of Women's History Month, I've put together this woefully incomplete timeline of the lowlights:

Paleolithic era
Pre-European cave paintings are attributed to male hunters up until 2013, when an anthropologist shows that hand tracings found alongside the art at 10 famous sites were likely done by women.
Men  credit  science  history  invention  art 
march 2017 by Quercki
Raising Horizons: women in science reframed : A view From the Bridge
Raising Horizons — created by photographer Leonora Saunders and science outreach group TrowelBlazers — celebrates 14 women scientists, from fossil-hunter Mary Anning (1799-1847) to underwater archaeologist Honor Frost (1917-2010). The twist is that the portraits are photographs in which present-day scientific counterparts enact these historical luminaries. Thus Lorna Steel, senior curator in earth sciences at London’s Natural History Museum, is dressed as Anning out collecting with her dog Tray, and maritime archaeologist Rachel Bynoe is shown as Frost emerging dripping after a ‘wreck dive’ in the Mediterranean.
women  science  archaeology  photos 
february 2017 by Quercki
Research says there are ways to reduce racial bias. Calling people racist isn’t one of them. - Vox
The innate resistance and defensiveness to conversations about bigotry don’t mean that you should never talk about racism, sexism, homophobia, or other kinds of hate. But those conversations may have to be held more tactfully — positioning people into a more receptive position to hear what these problems are all about.

One key issue is that people want to feel heard before they can open their minds to other people’s points of view. “Democrats in particular need to go out of their way to reassure these groups that they are being respected, that they are being listened to,” Conner said.

That was crucial in Broockman and Kalla’s transgender canvassing study. In a traditional canvassing session, the canvasser does most of the talking — throwing out all sorts of statistics and reasons the person on the other side of the door should take a specific side on a certain issue.
bias  science  data  gay  marriage  communication  racism  politics 
november 2016 by Quercki
Durably reducing transphobia: A field experiment on door-to-door canvassing | Science
Durably reducing transphobia: A field experiment on door-to-door canvassing
David Broockman1,*, Joshua Kalla2
+ Author Affiliations
↵*Corresponding author. E-mail:
Science 08 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6282, pp. 220-224
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9713

Figures & Data
Info & Metrics
You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Not just turnout, but turnaround matters

In the last several U.S. presidential elections, the campaign mantra has focused on making sure that voters already aligned with one's candidate do get out to vote. There is a long history of unsuccessful efforts to change people's attitudes. Nevertheless, Broockman and Kalla conducted a field experiment showing that Miami voters shifted their attitudes toward transgender individuals and maintained those changed positions for 3 months (see the Perspective by Paluck).

Science, this issue p. 220; see also p. 147

Existing research depicts intergroup prejudices as deeply ingrained, requiring intense intervention to lastingly reduce. Here, we show that a single approximately 10-minute conversation encouraging actively taking the perspective of others can markedly reduce prejudice for at least 3 months. We illustrate this potential with a door-to-door canvassing intervention in South Florida targeting antitransgender prejudice. Despite declines in homophobia, transphobia remains pervasive. For the intervention, 56 canvassers went door to door encouraging active perspective-taking with 501 voters at voters’ doorsteps. A randomized trial found that these conversations substantially reduced transphobia, with decreases greater than Americans’ average decrease in homophobia from 1998 to 2012. These effects persisted for 3 months, and both transgender and nontransgender canvassers were effective. The intervention also increased support for a nondiscrimination law, even after exposing voters to counterarguments.
bias  science  data  fraud  gay  marriage  transgender  hate 
november 2016 by Quercki
A Really Important Political Science Study About Gay Marriage Used Faked Data
Most studies that attempt to measure approaches to swaying people on hot-button political issues do so in contrived lab settings, and when they find “successful” approaches, the effect sizes tend to be marginal. Here was a real-world study that showed a shockingly effective approach. There’s a reason it got coverage in the New York Times and a segment on “This American Life.”


How to Win Your Next Political Argument
Awareness Is Overrated
But everyone was fooled. The data were faked, says Retraction Watch. There was a quick (by academic standards) and brutal snowball effect here: The site reports that two grad students at UC-Berkeley who were hoping to extend the original findings, David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, noticed certain data irregularities. The duo then tried to get in touch with the survey firm LaCour and Green used for their study, but the firm “claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for,”
bias  science  data  fraud  gay  marriage 
november 2016 by Quercki
Author retracts study of changing minds on same-sex marriage after colleague admits data were faked - Retraction Watch at Retraction Watch
Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process
Author retracts study of changing minds on same-sex marriage after colleague admits data were faked
with 65 comments

In what can only be described as a remarkable and swift series of events, one of the authors of a much-ballyhooed Science paper claiming that short conversations could change people’s minds on same-sex marriage is retracting it following revelations that the data were faked by his co-author.

[3:45 p.m. Eastern, 5/28/15: Please see an update on this story; the study has been retracted.]

Donald Green, of Columbia, and Michael LaCour, a graduate student at UCLA, published the paper, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” in December 2014. The study received widespread media attention, including from This American Life, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post,  The Los Angeles Times, Science Friday, Vox, and HuffingtonPost, as LaCour’s site notes.

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, graduate students at University of California, Berkeley, were two of the people impressed with the work, so they planned an extension of it, as they explain in a timeline posted online yesterday:

As we examined the study’s data in planning our own studies, two features surprised us: voters’ survey responses exhibit much higher test-retest reliabilities than we have observed in any other panel survey data, and the response and reinterview rates of the panel survey were significantly higher than we expected. We set aside our doubts about the study and awaited the launch of our pilot extension to see if we could manage the same parameters. LaCour and Green were both responsive to requests for advice about design details when queried.

Earlier this month, they began a pilot of their extension. They soon realized that

The response rate of the pilot study was notably lower than what LaCour and Green (2014) reported.
bias  science  data  fraud  gay  marriage 
november 2016 by Quercki
How bad science misled chronic fatigue syndrome patients
in the American research community, no serious researchers were expressing doubts about the organic basis for the illness. Immunologists found clear patterns in the immune system, and exercise physiologists were seeing highly unusual physiological changes in ME/CFS patients after exercise.

I knew that the right forms of psychotherapy and careful exercise could help patients cope, and I would have been thrilled if they could have cured me. The problem was that, so far as I could tell, it just wasn’t true.

A deeply flawed study

Still, I’m a science writer. I respect and value science. So the PACE trial left me befuddled: It seemed like a great study — big, controlled, peer-reviewed — but I couldn’t reconcile the results with my own experience.

So I and many other patients dug into the science. And almost immediately we saw enormous problems.

Before the trial of 641 patients began, the researchers had announced their standards for success — that is, what “improvement” and “recovery” meant in statistically measurable terms. To be considered recovered, participants had to meet established thresholds on self-assessments of fatigue and physical function, and they had to say they felt much better overall.

But after the unblinded trial started, the researchers weakened all these standards, by a lot. Their revised definition of “recovery” was so loose that patients could get worse over the course of the trial on both fatigue and physical function and still be considered “recovered.” The threshold for physical function was so low that an average 80-year-old would exceed it.
chronic_fatigue_syndrome  exertion_intolerance  science  data  fail  medicine 
october 2016 by Quercki
Learning the Hard Way: My Journey from #AntiVaxx to Science | The Scientific Parent
I jumped on Google to type in “child cough.” My kids had all but one symptom of pertussis, none of them had the characteristic “whoop.” But they had everything else.
We had vaccinated our first three children on an alternative schedule and our youngest four weren’t vaccinated at all.  We stopped because we were scared and didn’t know who to trust.  Was the medical community just paid off puppets of a Big Pharma-Government-Media conspiracy?  Were these vaccines even necessary in this day and age? Were we unwittingly doing greater harm than help to our beloved children? So much smoke must mean a fire so we defaulted to the ‘do nothing and hope nothing bad happens’ position.

Learn the signs of pertussis (whooping cough). Click to enlarge.
For years relatives tried to persuade us to reconsider through emails and links, but this only irritated us and made us defensive.  Secretly, I hoped I would find the proof I needed to hold the course, but deep down I was resigned to only find endless conflicting arguments that never resolved anything.  No matter if we vaccinated or not, I thought, it would be nothing more than a coin toss with horrible risks either way.
When the Disneyland measles outbreak happened my husband and I agreed to take a new look and weigh the evidence on both sides. A friend suggested I write out my questions so we could tackle them one by one.  Just getting it out on paper helped so much. I only ended up with a handful of questions. But more potent than my questions were my biases.
vaccination  science  health 
august 2016 by Quercki
The Disappearing Act | Hazlitt
In 1993, Margaret Rossiter coined a term for the forgotten women in science and, more generally, academia: The Matilda Effect. There was a pattern throughout history, she argued, of women who, when compared to men, failed to receive equal recognition or reputation for equal scientific achievement. These are the women whose names have been relegated to footnotes, or whose accomplishments have been scrubbed out like a blemish. “Not only have those unrecognized in their own time generally remained so,” Rossiter wrote, “but others that were well-known in their day have since been obliterated from history.” To look back at historic record, we might think that women hardly made any contribution to science at all—but that’s not the case.

Take one 11th century Italian physician named Trotula who gained both fame and respect in her own lifetime for treating women’s ailments. By the next century, a historian assumed someone so accomplished couldn’t be a woman and changed her pronoun and name to the masculine form. In the 20th century, her gender was reversed, but her occupation morphed to midwife. Textbooks abound with scientific discoveries that are credited to men, even when a woman is a co-discoverer or, more grievously, when she has made the first breakthrough.
women  science  history  misogyny 
august 2016 by Quercki
Researcher decodes prairie dog language, discovers they've been talking about us (Video) : TreeHugger
After more than 25 years of studying the calls of prairie dog in the field, one researcher managed to decode just what these animals are saying. And the results show that praire dogs aren't only extremely effective communicators, they also pay close attention to detail.

According to Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, who turned his vocalization analysis on the Gunnison's prairie dog of Arizona and New Mexico, the chirps these animals use as 'alert calls' are actually word-like packages of information to share with the rest of the colony. Amazingly, these unique sounds were found to both identify specific threats by species, such as hawks and coyotes, and to point out descriptive information about their appearance.
animals  language  science  biology  prairie_dog 
june 2016 by Quercki
For my next trick... | The Economist
Study 329 finished in 1998. These days, such shenanigans are supposed to be impossible. American and European regulators require trials to be registered before they begin, complete with information about what they will be investigating and how they will go about it, so that researchers can check their colleagues have done what they promised to do. But enforcement is lax. A meta-analysis—a study of studies—published in BMC Medicine in 2015 found that 31% of clinical trials did not stick to the measurements they had planned to use. Another paper, published in PLOS ONE, also in 2015, examined 137 medical trials over a six-month period and found that 18% had altered their primary outcomes halfway through the trial, while 64% had done the same with secondary, less-important measures of success.

The COMPare team’s results are similar. They analysed all the clinical trials reported between October and January in the five most prestigious medical journals—specifically, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine and the BMJ—looking for evidence of outcome switching.

INTERACTIVE: Clinical trial simulator - Run your own trials and play the system in favour of your own drug
That came to a total of 67 different trials. Of those, nine were perfect—they had done exactly what they had said they would do, or if they had changed their measurements, they had said so plainly and given their reasons. The other 58, though, had flaws. Between them they contained 300 outcomes that should have been reported but were not, while 357 new outcomes, not specified in the documents describing what the trial would be doing, were silently added.
drugs  medicine  science  trial 
june 2016 by Quercki
Cheese Types - Cheese Science Toolkit
Cheese Types
by Cheese Science Toolkit

A simple way of thinking about how different cheeses are organized. Ripened/Unripened, Bacterial ripened/mold ripened, internal/external, Acid/Acid plus heat or rennet/Rennet only
cheese  science 
june 2016 by Quercki
The Incredible Story of NASA's Forgotten 'Rocket Girls' | ThinkProgress
Holt’s research led her to an entire group of women who worked as human computers throughout the history of space exploration. Although her first inkling came through a fortuitous internet search, finding the whole story took painstaking digging. Even NASA’s archives had forgotten them. Using old photo captions that identified just one or two names in big groups of women, Holt cold called scores of women until she connected with the right ones.
I had never heard of women working in NASA at this era, much less as scientists, and I really wanted to learn more.
The stories these women told her formed the basis of her new book, Rise of the Rocket Girls.
In it, Holt chronicles women’s central role in what we now think of as the key accomplishments in space exploration, and their lives as computers in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
These women took math classes for fun though it was considered impractical for a woman. They competed against each other in speed-calculation contests. They hid their pregnancies and hoarded their vacation time so they could come back to work after having children. They worked alongside famous figures like Carl Sagan, Wernher von Braun, and Richard Feynman, and they were ultimately essential to the discoveries that made those men household names.
Yet when NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first American satellite, the agency forgot to invite the women — living mere miles away — who were in the room when it happened.
Rise of the Rocket Girls unveils this forgotten history with nuance and insight, weaving in personal details about friendships, marriage, and motherhood with the technical problems these women solved, such as exactly how much fuel a rocket needed and how much would make it explode. And as the share of women graduating with technical degrees continues to plateau — and, in some cases, plummet — Holt’s book is an important reminder of how women’s work has been essential to advances in science and technology all along.
women  science  NASA  computers  space  STEM  sexism  female  equality 
may 2016 by Quercki
astolat — badscienceshenanigans: 0hcicero: ...
*biologist crashes through the underbrush*

Ok so here’s the thing though

Malachite is not poisonous to YOU. BUT fucking this stalactite will probably wreck your vaginal flora and leave you with a gruesome infection within a couple days.


• Malachite is not copper oxide. It’s Cu2CO3(OH)2. Like most carbonates it’s water soluble– that’s how it became a stalactite in the first place! And technically any given chunk of “malachite” isn’t just malachite– it’s a mix of various copper carbonates & oxides. This will become important later. 

• When malachite dissolves it makes a bunch of copper (Cu++) ions. Cu++ is GREAT at killing bacteria and fungi– so good at it that sprays with Cu++ get used a lot as a spray in agriculture to stop plant disease. It takes such a large dose to harm larger organisms that copper sprays are used a lot in organic agriculture (like Bordeaux mixture). 

So bottom line, yes malachite is technically nontoxic to humans. But it kills bacteria when it dissolves and releases Cu++.
malachite  dildo  science 
may 2016 by Quercki
A new view of the tree of life : Nature Microbiology
Here, we use new genomic data from over 1,000 uncultivated and little known organisms, together with published sequences, to infer a dramatically expanded version of the tree of life, with Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya included. The depiction is both a global overview and a snapshot of the diversity within each major lineage. The results reveal the dominance of bacterial diversification and underline the importance of organisms lacking isolated representatives, with substantial evolution concentrated in a major radiation of such organisms. This tree highlights major lineages currently underrepresented in biogeochemical models and identifies radiations that are probably important for future evolutionary analyses.
evolution  science  DNA  tree_of_life  *** 
april 2016 by Quercki
Fighting Back Against Anti-Transgender Talking Points
The attacks follow a predictable set of talking points that rely on the reader having no scientific knowledge of the issue. However, when examined from a perspective of peer-reviewed medical consensus and law, these talking points fail utterly.
transgender  science 
april 2016 by Quercki
The Scrappy Female Paleontologist Whose Life Inspired a Tongue Twister | Atlas Obscura
Born in 1799, Anning ran a fossil stand on England’s Dorset Beach, also known as Jurassic Coast, and it's often said that she was the real-life inspiration behind the famous tongue twister. At age 12, she dug up a 200 million year-old marine reptile—the first complete ichthyosaurus skeleton to be acknowledged by the Geological Society in London. Over the following years, Anning continued to discover some of the first dinosaur fossils unearthed in Great Britain, as well as helped to clarify that coprolites, known as bezoar stones at the time, were actually fossilized poop. It was only a matter of time before Anning became what some call "the greatest fossilist the world ever knew." And did we mention she was struck by lightning as an infant?
dinosaur  Mary_Anning  palentology  science  history  tongue-twister 
april 2016 by Quercki
Mental Health of Transgender Children Who Are Supported in Their Identities | Articles | Pediatrics

OBJECTIVE: Transgender children who have socially transitioned, that is, who identify as the gender “opposite” their natal sex and are supported to live openly as that gender, are increasingly visible in society, yet we know nothing about their mental health. Previous work with children with gender identity disorder (GID; now termed gender dysphoria) has found remarkably high rates of anxiety and depression in these children. Here we examine, for the first time, mental health in a sample of socially transitioned transgender children.

METHODS: A community-based national sample of transgender, prepubescent children (n = 73, aged 3–12 years), along with control groups of nontransgender children in the same age range (n = 73 age- and gender-matched community controls; n = 49 sibling of transgender participants), were recruited as part of the TransYouth Project. Parents completed anxiety and depression measures.

RESULTS: Transgender children showed no elevations in depression and slightly elevated anxiety relative to population averages. They did not differ from the control groups on depression symptoms and had only marginally higher anxiety symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Socially transitioned transgender children who are supported in their gender identity have developmentally normative levels of depression and only minimal elevations in anxiety, suggesting that psychopathology is not inevitable within this group. Especially striking is the comparison with reports of children with GID; socially transitioned transgender children have notably lower rates of internalizing psychopathology than previously reported among children with GID living as their natal sex.
transgender  children  mental  health  pediatrics  science  research 
february 2016 by Quercki
Characterization of Adults With a Self-Diagnosis of Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity
Background: Nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), occurring in patients without celiac disease yet whose gastrointestinal symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet (GFD), is largely a self-reported diagnosis and would appear to be very common. The aims of this study were to characterize patients who believe they have NCGS. Materials and Methods: Advertising was directed toward adults who believed they had NCGS and were willing to participate in a clinical trial. Respondents were asked to complete a questionnaire about symptoms, diet, and celiac investigation. Results: Of 248 respondents, 147 completed the survey. Mean age was 43.5 years, and 130 were women. Seventy-two percent did not meet the description of NCGS due to inadequate exclusion of celiac disease (62%), uncontrolled symptoms despite gluten restriction (24%), and not following a GFD (27%), alone or in combination. The GFD was self-initiated in 44% of respondents; in other respondents it was prescribed by alternative health professionals (21%), dietitians (19%), and general practitioners (16%). No celiac investigations had been performed in 15% of respondents. Of 75 respondents who had duodenal biopsies, 29% had no or inadequate gluten intake at the time of endoscopy. Inadequate celiac investigation was common if the GFD was initiated by self (69%), alternative health professionals (70%), general practitioners (46%), or dietitians (43%). In 40 respondents who fulfilled the criteria for NCGS, their knowledge of and adherence to the GFD were excellent, and 65% identified other food intolerances. Conclusions: Just over 1 in 4 respondents self-reporting as NCGS fulfill criteria for its diagnosis. Initiation of a GFD without adequate exclusion of celiac disease is common. In 1 of 4 respondents, symptoms are poorly controlled despite gluten avoidance.
diet  gluten  science  research 
february 2016 by Quercki
The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken - The Chronicle of Higher Education
 In 2003 the Virginia Tech civil-engineering professor said that there was lead in the Washington, D.C., water supply, and that the city had been poisoning its residents. He was right.
Last fall he said there was lead in the water in Flint, Mich., despite the reassurances of state and local authorities that the water was safe. He was right about that, too.

Working with residents of Flint, Mr. Edwards led a study that revealed that the elevated lead levels in people’s homes were not isolated incidents but a result of a systemic problem that had been ignored by state scientists.
science  politics  ethics  water  lead  trust  truth 
february 2016 by Quercki
Casual Kitchen: The Cure for Worry Porn
Voilà: we believe the fear is real and worth worrying about.

And yet this information is never worth worrying about. To see why, allow me to share five rules I keep in mind whenever I stumble onto worry porn:

Rule 1: The studies we see are the most outlandish or the most fear-inducing.
This is a basic and fundamental concept of the media. Fear sells and surprise sells. Further, the more media you consume, the more it seems normal to read about fear and surprise, to the point where it begins to skew your own perception of reality. Incidentally, this is why, in an era when life has never been safer for human beings, we all feel like life is more dangerous than ever.

Rule 2: A tiny fraction of studies are independently replicated.
A study that "proves" something actually proves nothing until somebody else can come up with the same findings separately. This almost never happens, but you'd never know it judging by the way the media covers scientific issues. The general media is interested in selling you information that surprises or scares you, it is not interested in running follow up stories on how such-and-such study couldn't be replicated by anyone else.

Rule 3: Even when the results of a study are replicated, the size or strength of the effect is smaller--usually significantly smaller--than the findings of the original study.
It's not enough that we're unable to replicate most studies. Even when when we do replicate results, the linkage is almost always far weaker than the original findings. This is known as the Decline Effect, and it's been confounding researchers for decades. Taken to its logical conclusion, the Decline Effect suggests that there is some other unknown form of bias--statistical bias, survivor bias, medical journal bias, perhaps even political bias--at work that skews the fundamental nature of scientific studies.

Rule 4: No one sees the studies that say "this chemical is safe," "this pattern of behavior is safe" or "we postulated this link between burnt toast and cancer but didn't find anything."
This is known as the File Drawer Effect: Studies that don't prove anything or studies that produce negative findings tend to vanish into the journal editor's file drawer without getting published. Why? Readers should know the answer by heart by now: If there's no fear involved, no one will read it.
worry_porn  fear  vaccination  science 
january 2016 by Quercki
Lise Eliot, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Neuroscience Chicago Medical School
Selected articles and book chapters:

The human hippocampus is not sexually-dimorphic:  Meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes. NeuroImage 124:350-366 (2016).  With co-authors Anh Tan, Wenli Ma, Amit Vira and Dhruv Marwha.

Segregation by sex harms personal and career development.  The New York Times, Room for Debate(16 September 2015).

Hardwired for combat?  First female Army Ranger graduates prove grit beats gender in military training. Huffington Post (31 August 2015).

Why coeducation matters.  The Independent School Magazine Blog(11 May 2015).

Same-sex schools perpetuate notions of difference between men and women.  The New York Times, Room for Debate (10 March 2015).

Busy boys and little ladies: How fake brain science has supported gender segregation in schools. Slate (4 December 2014).

Do brain sex differences explain gendered job preferences? Huffington Post (9 September 2014).

Women's hockey and hardwiring, Huffington Post (21 February 2014).

Sex-trapolation in the latest brain science, Huffington Post (30 December 2013).

Should single-sex education be eliminated? The American (10 September 2013).

Gender segregation and civil rights. Huffington Post  (6 September 2013).

Why CoEducation Matters. ASCD Inservice Blog (6 March 2013).

Single-Sex Schools: Vive la Différence or Oppression? Letters, Wall Street Journal (25 Oct. 2012).

The case against single-sex schooling.  The Washington Post Answer Sheet (4 June 2012), with co-author Rebecca Bigler.

The trouble with sex differences.  Neuron, (2011), 72:895-898.
gender  gender_roles  male  female  science 
november 2015 by Quercki
"Male brain" and "female brain": There's really not much of a difference.
Men and women are equal—and so are the architectures of our brains, according to a new study by neuroscientist Lise Eliot of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. According to a write-up in Wired, the study was aimed at evaluating the theory that the hippocampus is larger in women than in men; since the hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with memory and emotion, this has been proposed as an explanation for all those feelings ladies tend to have. Eliot and her team analyzed 6,000 MRI scans and found “no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women.”

This is more than a matter of abstract interest for Eliot, the author of the 2010 book Pink Brain, Blue Brain, about how dubious theories of sex differences in the brain lead us to raise and educate boys and girls differently. She’s devoted years to decrying these kinds of stereotypes and their frustratingly strong grip on the American approach to childrearing. In 2011, she teamed up with other experts to write an article in the journal Science debunking the work of several same-sex education theorists, and in 2013, she debated conservative pundit Christina Hoff Sommers, author of a book that argues feminism initiated a “war on boys” in American schools.
male  brain  female  gender  science 
november 2015 by Quercki
Topography of social touching depends on emotional bonds between humans Juulia T. Suvilehtoa,1, Enrico Glereana, Robin I. M. Dunbarb,c, Riitta Haria,1, and Lauri Nummenmaaa,d
We conclude that the emotional bonds between individuals are closely associated with the bodily patterns where social touch is allowed. Such relationship-specific spatial patterns may reflect an important mechanism supporting establishing and mainte- nance of human social bonds. Altogether our data highlight the central role played by nonverbal intimate interaction involving touch in modulating human social interaction and interper- sonal bonds.
touch  science  data 
october 2015 by Quercki
On Geoff Marcy and Sexism in Science and Sci-Fi - The Toast
Geoffrey William Marcy, future award-winning astronomer and UC Berkeley professor, was only twelve years old when Star Trek premiered. A couple of years later, Marcy discovered astronomy. According to a 2001 profile in the LA Times, he would often sit on his rooftop in southern California and gaze through a telescope. “He was 14 and he was obsessed…by the age-old questions that animated the science fiction he devoured… Were there other Earths teeming with life? Marcy was certain there were.” A few weeks ago, Marcy was being discussed as a potential Nobel Prize honoree. Then BuzzFeed leaked the story that Marcy had been found guilty of sexual harassment.

Last Thursday, my colleagues and I received an email from the Chancellor of UC Berkeley informing us that Marcy had resigned. A panel had found that he had sexually harassed female students for nearly a decade. According to Azeen Ghorayshi, the reporter who broke the story for BuzzFeed, Marcy’s great success was part of the reason why his pattern of harassment went unchallenged.
sexism  harassment  science  sciencefiction  academia  Hugos 
october 2015 by Quercki
The Incredible True Tale Of "The Queen Of Neuroscience" And Her Nobel Prize
Both May-Britt and Edvard were raised on islands in Norway’s “Bible belt.” Their prize-winning work was the discovery of so-called grid cells that make up “the GPS of the brain,” the internal mapping and navigation system that helps animals identify where they are and where they have been. (To learn more, see this story or this lecture.)

I spoke with May-Britt Moser for Sophia, a HuffPost project to collect life lessons from fascinating people. She shared practical wisdom about battling stress and getting better sleep, about parenting, influential books, and a wonderful story about the best gift she’s ever received.
women  science  Nobel  neuroscience  fashion  ** 
february 2015 by Quercki
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist | RealClearScience
By extension, the study also lent credibility to the meteoric rise of the gluten-free diet. Surveys now show that 30% of Americans would like to eat less gluten, and sales of gluten-free products are estimated to hit $15 billion by 2016 -- that's a 50% jump over 2013's numbers!

But like any meticulous scientist, Gibson wasn't satisfied with his first study. His research turned up no clues to what actually might be causing subjects' adverse reactions to gluten. Moreover, there were many more variables to control! What if some hidden confounder was mucking up the results? He resolved to repeat the trial with a level of rigor lacking in most nutritional research. Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. With this new study, Gibson wasn't messing around.

Analyzing the data, Gibson found that each treatment diet, whether it included gluten or not, prompted subjects to report a worsening of gastrointestinal symptoms to similar degrees. Reported pain, bloating, nausea, and gas all increased over the baseline low-FODMAP diet. Even in the second experiment, when the placebo diet was identical to the baseline diet, subjects reported a worsening of symptoms! The data clearly indicated that a nocebo effect, the same reaction that prompts some people to get sick from wind turbines and wireless internet, was at work here. Patients reported gastrointestinal distress without any apparent physical cause. Gluten wasn't the culprit; the cause was likely psychological. Participants expected the diets to make them sick, and so they did. The finding led Gibson to the opposite conclusion of his 2011 research:

“In contrast to our first study… we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten."
gluten  food  science  diet  research 
september 2014 by Quercki
First Blood Test to Diagnose Depression in Adults: Northwestern University News
CHICAGO --- The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed by Northwestern Medicine® scientists, a breakthrough approach that provides the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions.

The blood test also predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy based on the behavior of some of the markers. This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression.

In addition, the test showed the biological effects of cognitive behavioral therapy, the first measurable, blood-based evidence of the therapy’s success. The levels of markers changed in patients who had the therapy for 18 weeks and were no longer depressed.   

“This clearly indicates that you can have a blood-based laboratory test for depression, providing a scientific diagnosis in the same way someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” said Eva Redei, who developed the test and is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This test brings mental health diagnosis into the 21st century and offers the first personalized medicine approach to people suffering from depression.”

Redei is co-lead author of the study, which was published Sept. 16 in Translational Psychiatry. 

Redei previously developed a blood test that diagnosed depression in adolescents. Most of the markers she identified in the adult depression panel are different from those in depressed adolescents. 
depression  medicine  science  research 
september 2014 by Quercki
The history of “scientist” | The Renaissance Mathematicus
When Alfred Russel Wallace responded to Carrington’s 1894 survey he described “scientist” as a “very useful American term.” For most British readers, however, the popularity of the word in America was, if anything, evidence that the term was illegitimate and barbarous.


Nature Masthead
Feelings against “scientist” in Britain endured well into the twentieth century. In 1924, “scientist” once again became the topic of discussion in a periodical, this time in the influential specialist weekly Nature. In November, the physicist Norman Campbell sent a Letter to the Editor of Nature asking him to reconsider the journal’s policy of avoiding “scientist.” He admitted that the word had once been problematic; it had been coined at a time “when scientists were in some trouble about their style” and “were accused, with some truth, of being slovenly.” Campbell argued, however, that such questions of “style” were no longer a concern—the scientist had now secured social respect. Furthermore, said Campbell, the alternatives were old-fashioned; indeed, “man of science” was outright offensive to the increasing number of women in science.
scientist  science  history  linguistics 
august 2014 by Quercki
Overweight Americans Have the Lowest Risk of Premature Death » Sociological Images
So, do we even have an obesity epidemic? Perhaps not if we use health as a marker instead of some arbitrary decision to hate fat.  Paul Campos, covering this story for the New York Times, points out:

If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that does not increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead.

That’s 79%.

It’s worth saying again: if we are measuring by the risk of premature death, then 79% of the people we currently shame for being overweight or obese would be recategorized as perfectly fine. Ideal, even. Pleased to be plump, let’s say, knowing that a body that is a happy balance of soft and strong is the kind of body that will carry them through a lifetime.
fat  health  science  statistics  BMI  death 
july 2014 by Quercki
Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless - Vox
An estimated 2 million people take it annually, at the behest of corporate HR departments, colleges, and even government agencies. The company that makes and markets the test makes somewhere around $20 million each year.

The only problem? The test is completely meaningless.

"There's just no evidence behind it," says Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who's written about the shortcomings of the Myers-Briggs previously. "The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you'll be in a situation, how you'll perform at your job, or how happy you'll be in your marriage."
science  psychology  Myers-Briggs 
july 2014 by Quercki
Conduct of scientists (and science writers) can shape the public’s view of science. | Doing Good Science, Scientific American Blog Network
Back in January of 2005, Larry Summers gave a speech at a conference about what can be done to attract more women to the study of math and science, and to keep them in the field long enough to become full professors. In his talk, Summers suggested as a possible hypothesis for the relatively low number of women in math and science careers that there may be innate biological factors that make males better at math and science than females. (He also related an anecdote about his daughter naming her toy trucks as if they were dolls, but it’s fair to say he probably meant this anecdote to be illustrative rather than evidentiary.)

The talk did not go over well with the rest of the participants in the conference.

Several scientific studies were presented at the conference before Summers made his speech. All these studies presented significant evidence against the claim of an innate difference between males and females that could account for the “science gap”.

In the aftermath of this conference of yore, there were some commenters who lauded Summers for voicing “unpopular truths” and others who distanced themselves from his claims but said they supported his right to make them as an exercise of “academic freedom.”

But if Summers was representing himself as a scientist* when he made his speech, I don’t think the “academic freedom” defense works.
sexism  women  science  STEM  larry_summers 
july 2014 by Quercki
Mad Art Lab | Mary Somerville: Savior of British Mathematics.
Actively encouraged for the first time in her life, and having picked up French (again, self-taught), she waded into the heart of French mathematics which had, since the mid eighteenth century, grown to dominance (Euler’s titanic contribution notwithstanding) under the steady brilliance of Lagrange, Poisson, Fourier, and especially the reigning genius of Laplace.

Laplace’s Mecanique Celeste was to the early nineteenth century what Newton’s Principia was to the late seventeenth – a magisterial accounting of the motions of the solar system harnessing the most powerful mathematical tools available. Newton, realizing that his audience could only be expected to trust and grasp so far the techniques of the calculus he invented, couched most of his arguments in pure geometric terms. Laplace, benefiting from the work in algebraic and functional analysis of Lagrange and Euler, was able to solve problems of greater difficulty and so to provide a breath-arresting, unified view of the long-term stability of the solar system.

Meanwhile, England had been dutifully spinning its wheels, completely out of synch with the dizzying speed of mathematical developments in France. Mary, however, had traveled to France and discussed Laplacean physics… with Laplace. She was hailed throughout Europe for the depth of her understanding in the deepest realms of mathematical physics, and when she at last returned to England, she was earnestly asked by Lord Brougham to prepare a work explaining Laplace’s theories to an English audience.

She began in 1827, at the age of 47, and did not complete the work until 1831. The resulting book, Mechanism of the Heavens, was a masterpiece that not only presented a translation of Laplace’s original two volume thunderbolt, but expanded it, filling in the sections where Laplace had somewhat condescendingly placed, “it obviously follows that…” when it was not obvious to anyone besides Laplace at all, and adding her own clear explanations of the consequences of Laplace’s thought.
Mary_Somerville  women  science  history 
july 2014 by Quercki
Follow-up: On Clarity, Dignity, Apologies and Moving Forward | Science Blogs | WIRED
This is a follow-up to my post over the weekend on the #StandingwithDNLee situation that enveloped Danielle N. Lee, Ph.D., her blog at Scientific American, SciAm’s partner organizations, and — by extension — the many thousands of people who expressed support for her. While the situation is sure to have a long tail, some significant things happened Sunday and Monday, so I want to update and note those to close the loop. (If this story is new to you, have a look at my last post.)

In chronological order:

Scientific American posted an explanation (though not, publicly, an apology), alleging that legal concerns caused Dr. Lee’s post  — exploring her reaction to verbal abuse by an editor at an organization which SciAm listed as a partner — to be taken down within an hour of its being published., whose blog editor verbally abused Dr. Lee in the process of asking her to work for free, announced that that editor had been fired, and unreservedly apologized to Dr. Lee.
Dr. Lee’s post at Scientific American was restored with an editor’s note.
racism  sexism  science  SciAm 
june 2014 by Quercki
On Science, Communication, Respect, and Coming Back from Mistakes | Science Blogs | WIRED
One of the bloggers at the SciAm network is Danielle N. Lee, Ph.D., a biologist who also writes about increasing science’s engagement with women and people of color. (Here’s her blog, The Urban Scientist — but as we’ll get to, there is something missing from that page.) On Thursday, Dr. Lee received an email from someone who represented himself as the blog editor at, which is a blog platform and aggregator, and a partner site with SciAm. The editor asked if Dr. Lee would be interested in contributing to their site. After some Q and A back and forth regarding whether this was work for pay or for free, and after hearing that there was no compensation, Dr. Lee responded:

Thank you very much for your reply.

But I will have to decline your offer.

Have a great day.

According to emails which Dr. Lee screengrabbed, here was the editor’s response:

Because we don’t pay for blog entries?

Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?

I want to just let that sink in for a minute. A professional was asked to work for no compensation. She declined politely. And was called a whore.
So that’s the first thing that happened. Here is the second: At her SciAm blog, Dr. Lee wrote a post about the email encounter, the insult, and her completely reasonable woundedness. She said in part:

It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand.What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious to me that I was supposed to be honored by the request.

And at some point Friday evening, her post vanished. It was apparently taken down by Scientific American. (The quotes above are from a complete repost of Dr. Lee’s piece put up Friday night by blogger Isis the Scientist. [Update: Dr. Isis let me know that the first person to help bring attention to Dr. Lee's situation was actually Dr. Rubidium, an analytical chemist and woman of color, in this post. Credit where due!])

We know the takedown was deliberate because Mariette DiChristina, SciAm’s editor-in-chief, confirmed the action in a tweet:
science  racism  sexism  free  censorship  SciAm 
june 2014 by Quercki
Jeepers, Creepers: What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like? | Cocktail Party Physics, Scientific American Blog Network
I have been largely silent publicly about the events of the past week that ended with the resignation of our blogs editor, Bora Zivkovic, mostly because (a) I was waiting for all the facts to come in and trying to process those facts in the throes of considerable cognitive dissonance, and (b) others have addressed so clearly and eloquently the many knotty issues I would have raised. Honestly, I’m suffering from metaphorical PTSD (Note: this is not meant to diminish PTSD; it accurately reflects my shellshocked emotional state): Bora is a longstanding friend and colleague. I have spent the last week, like many others, grieving for what our small community has lost, and what the three young women who came forward have suffered. Each subsequent revelation was like a hard punch to the gut. Monica, Hannah, Kathleen — I’m so sorry. I truly had no idea. . . . .

As Ashutosh Jogalekar phrased it,

We can applaud the substance of Bora’s foundational contributions to the rise of science blogging even as we continue to denounce his actions. This episode is a reminder that human beings are flawed and that the same person can reach both the heights of achievement and the depths of failure.
. . . .
But clearly we need to talk about what sexual harassment looks like, because it’s not always black-and-white, and no two cases are exactly alike. I would argue that the insidiousness of those borderline gray areas can sometimes be more damaging, in the long run, than the blatantly obvious cases — particularly for fields that wish to attract and promote more women within their ranks. An accumulation of incessant little things can gradually create an intolerable environment, and sexual harassment is a often a significant part of that. (Cf. the “chilly climate.”) It’s especially impactful when it happens early in one’s career. As this post noted: “Events at the beginning of your career timeline are, by definition, formative.” So it’s important that we openly acknowledge when these kinds of things happen, and act swiftly to address them.

Like pretty much every woman out there, I am no stranger to harassment. It’s just part of what a friend recently described as the persistent “background noise” of being a Woman in Public
sexual_harassment  science 
june 2014 by Quercki
Entomology 2014 Code of Conduct | Entomological Society of America (ESA)
Harassment and Safety: ESA is dedicated to providing a safe, hospitable, and productive environment for everyone present at our events, regardless of ethnicity, religion, disability, physical appearance or gender. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. Accordingly, ESA prohibits intimidating, threatening, or harassing conduct during our conferences. This policy applies to speakers, staff, volunteers, and attendees. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference, at the discretion of ESA leadership.

Harassment of ESA participants will not be tolerated in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to ethnicity, religion, disability, physical appearance, gender, or sexual orientation in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If a participant or exhibitor engages in harassing behavior, ESA leadership may take any action they deem appropriate, ranging from a simple warning to the offender to expulsion from this and future conferences. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please do not hesitate to contact ESA staff who can work with appropriate ESA leadership to resolve the situation.

ESA staff will be happy to help participants contact convention center/hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, and otherwise assist those experiencing harassment, to enable them feel to safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance, and want to make your experience as productive and stimulating as possible.

Need to file a complaint? Please contact:
Rosina Romano,, 301-731-4535 x3010
sexual_harassment  code  example  solution  science 
june 2014 by Quercki
How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists | IFLScience
Reading a scientific paper is a completely different process from reading an article about science in a blog or newspaper. Not only do you read the sections in a different order than they're presented, but you also have to take notes, read it multiple times, and probably go look up other papers in order to understand some of the details. Reading a single paper may take you a very long time at first, but be patient with yourself. The process will go much faster as you gain experience.
The type of scientific paper I'm discussing here is referred to as a primary research article. It's a peer-reviewed report of new research on a specific question (or questions). Most articles will be divided into the following sections: abstract, introduction, methods, results, and conclusions/interpretations/discussion. 
science  research  howto 
june 2014 by Quercki
Women In Astronomy: Fed Up With Sexual Harassment: The Serial Harasser's Playbook
Keep in mind that these steps are "designed" so as to provide escape hatches in case the target is not receptive. Any step in isolation, save the last few, are not by themselves strong evidence of harassment, and I expect many commenters (mainly men) to complain. But you should think of this as a slow ratcheting process that can be released with plausible deniability a any one stage. If the woman doesn't cry foul at step N, then the harasser is off to step N+1. If you have a complaint about any of these steps, take them to your campus's Title IX officer for further discussion and clarification. For women: in all things trust your instincts.

Also, for simplicity and to address this to those who are often most vulnerable, I refer to female students in what follows. However, note that this happens to women in all junior positions, including assistant professors and postdocs. Also, note that sexual harassment can be directed toward men by men. Indeed, if you are a man and have a hard time understanding why any of this would be uncomfortable, imagine any of this directed toward you by a physically imposing, senior male colleague with power over your career. If such a man were to start this process with you, would you wave it off as "not a big deal"?
Friendly greeting in the hallway. Big smiles. "Do I recognize you? I've seen you at a conference, haven't I?" Note that this is not inappropriate by itself. It's just step #1. As with the assessment of most behaviors, ask yourself or peers if this happens equally between the prof and other students.
harassment  sexual_harassment  science 
june 2014 by Quercki
Forensic science is biased and inaccurate, but juries believe it and convict the innocent.
Behind the myriad technical defects of modern forensics lie two extremely basic scientific problems. The first is a pretty clear case of cognitive bias: A startling number of forensics analysts are told by prosecutors what they think the result of any given test will be. This isn’t mere prosecutorial mischief; analysts often ask for as much information about the case as possible—including the identity of the suspect—claiming it helps them know what to look for. Even the most upright analyst is liable to be subconsciously swayed when she already has a conclusion in mind. Yet few forensics labs follow the typical blind experiment model to eliminate bias. Instead, they reenact a small-scale version of Inception, in which analysts are unconsciously convinced of their conclusion before their experiment even begins.

The second flaw that plagues forensics is even more alarming: For decades, nobody knew how accurate forensic analyses were, or whether they were accurate at all. There’s no central agency that evaluates each test for precision or reliability before approving its use, and most were developed with barely a gesture toward the scientific method and with little input from the scientific community. Nor did the creators of forensics tests publish their methods in peer-reviewed scientific journals. And why should they? Without a government agency overseeing the field, forensic analysts had no incentive to subject their tests to stricter scrutiny. Groups such as the Innocence Project have continually put pressure on the Department of Justice—which almost certainly should have supervised crime labs from the start—to regulate forensics. But until recently, no agency has been willing to wade into the decentralized mess that hundreds of labs across the country had unintentionally created.
prison  bad  science  crime  evidence  CSI 
june 2014 by Quercki
Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students
This entire thing is so condescending to women scientists and women more generally.

The fact that we need a scientific study to prove true what women say about their experiences shows already that there is bias. Implied in this entire exercise is that women are liars (or, at the least, constantly exaggerating and complaining). Women scientists have been lying for a long time about whether they are discriminated against so, once again, someone has set out to discover whether they are actually lying.

Of course, the people who did the study may have done it purposefully to show that women are not, in fact, liars. But that does not negate the fact that women scientists saying they are discriminated against is not, in and of itself, proof that women scientists are discriminated against.

What’s that, all you lady scientists? Bias? I don’t know. Do you have PROOF?

Having to “prove” that women are discriminated against in Science with some kind of scientific proof just shows that women scientists are treated as outside of Science. I literally cannot imagine if an overwhelming group of male scientists all agreed about “what it means to be a man and a scientist” that there would need to be proof that their claims are true. Their experiences would be treated as normal and right. The proof would be in the collectivity of voices.
science  women  bias  discrimination  research  statistics  proof  **** 
june 2014 by Quercki
Proof - Jessica W. Luther
Study after study finds that many women feel unwelcome in laboratories and science departments, even after considerable progress in encouraging women to study science and technology fields. As these studies come out, there are almost always skeptics who say that whatever gender imbalance exists could well reflect different choices made, on average, by men and women, or who say that individual men are rising on their merits, not sexism.

But a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers evidence of bias among scientists — male and female scientists alike — against female students.

This entire thing is so condescending to women scientists and women more generally.

The fact that we need a scientific study to prove true what women say about their experiences shows already that there is bias. Implied in this entire exercise is that women are liars (or, at the least, constantly exaggerating and complaining). Women scientists have been lying for a long time about whether they are discriminated against so, once again, someone has set out to discover whether they are actually lying.

Of course, the people who did the study may have done it purposefully to show that women are not, in fact, liars. But that does not negate the fact that women scientists saying they are discriminated against is not, in and of itself, proof that women scientists are discriminated against.

What’s that, all you lady scientists? Bias? I don’t know. Do you have PROOF?

Having to “prove” that women are discriminated against in Science with some kind of scientific proof just shows that women scientists are treated as outside of Science. I literally cannot imagine if an overwhelming group of male scientists all agreed about “what it means to be a man and a scientist” that there would need to be proof that their claims are true. Their experiences would be treated as normal and right. The proof would be in the collectivity of voices.
women  science  discrimination  condescending 
june 2014 by Quercki
Fraternal Birth Order and Kickstarting Homosexuality in the Womb - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
In spite of the long-running “gene-gay versus turned-gay” discussions of homosexuality, we have far better data evidencing womb-gayness than we do gene-gayness or turned-gayness.

So what does this have to do with Mormons? Well, given the relatively large size of Mormon families, on average, it is highly likely that gay men are relatively more common among Mormons than among the general population, where family size is, on average, smaller. It’s not just that each Mormon family would have, on average, more sons than the average American family; it’s that the population of Mormons would include more gay men per capita than the general American population.

Put that fact together with a study that purported to show that men who are homophobic are more likely to be sexually aroused to homosexual stimuli and another purporting to show that homophobic men are more likely to be aggressive towards gay men and imagine, in turn, that gay (Mormon) men who are forced to be closeted are more likely to become homophobic.

It’s just hard not to wonder if the Mormon declaration of war over Prop. 8 doesn’t have a little something to do with womb-gayness.

The fraternal birth order effect, incidentally, is a great starting point for telling just-so stories of evolution. For instance, isn’t it in
gay  science  womb  brothers  LGBTQ 
may 2014 by Quercki
Waterlogged? | BMJ "Health Marketing" (eight glasses of water a day)
Water, water everywhere. Should doctors be telling people to drink more water as a public health issue? Hydration for Health, an initiative to promote drinking more water, held its annual scientific meeting in Evian, France, last week. The initiative has shown its fervour for water with recent adverts in the medical press, including the BMJ. The website states that its mission is “to establish healthy hydration as an integral part of public health nutritional guidelines and routine patient counselling so people can make informed choices.” It believes that “Healthcare professionals should be encouraged to talk with patients about the calorific content of SSBs [sugar sweetened beverages] when discussing lifestyle modification to manage overweight and/or obesity . . . Consumption of water in preference to other beverages should be highlighted as a simple step towards healthier hydration.” And healthier hydration is? “recommending 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily is the simplest and healthiest hydration advice you can give.”

Hydration for Health has a vested interest: it is sponsored and was created by French food giant Danone. This company produces Volvic, Evian, and Badoit bottled waters. The initiative’s website is bold and strident. Under a section entitled “We don’t drink enough water,” it states, “many people, including children, are not drinking enough . . . Children can be at greater risk than adults of feeling the effects of not drinking enough because of their smaller size . . . Elderly people often have a decreased sensation of thirst, which can lead to a higher risk of dehydration [and] evidence is increasing that even mild dehydration plays a role in the development of various diseases.”1
Drinking eight glasses of water a day is recommended by all kinds of organisations, including the NHS, which says on the NHS Choices website: “Try to drink about six to eight glasses of water (or other fluids) a day to prevent dehydration.”2 This is not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense. In 2002, Heinz Valtin published a critique of the evidence in the American Journal of Physiology. He concluded that “Not only is there no scientific evidence that we need to drink that much, but the recommendation could be harmful, both in precipitating potentially dangerous hyponatremia and exposure to pollutants and also in making many people feel guilty for not drinking enough.”3 In 2008, an editorial in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reached much the same conclusion, stating that “There is no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water.
water  science  research 
may 2014 by Quercki
“Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8 × 8”? | Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Despite the seemingly ubiquitous admonition to “drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day” (with an accompanying reminder that beverages containing caffeine and alcohol do not count), rigorous proof for this counsel appears to be lacking. This review sought to find the origin of this advice (called “8 × 8” for short) and to examine the scientific evidence, if any, that might support it. The search included not only electronic modes but also a cursory examination of the older literature that is not covered in electronic databases and, most importantly and fruitfully, extensive consultation with several nutritionists who specialize in the field of thirst and drinking fluids. No scientific studies were found in support of 8 × 8. Rather, surveys of food and fluid intake on thousands of adults of both genders, analyses of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals, strongly suggest that such large amounts are not needed because the surveyed persons were presumably healthy and certainly not overtly ill. This conclusion is supported by published studies showing that caffeinated drinks (and, to a lesser extent, mild alcoholic beverages like beer in moderation) may indeed be counted toward the daily total, as well as by the large body of published experiments that attest to the precision and effectiveness of the osmoregulatory system for maintaining water balance. It is to be emphasized that the conclusion is limited to healthy adults in atemperate climate leading a largely sedentaryexistence, precisely the population and conditions that the “at least” in 8 × 8 refers to. Equally to be emphasized, lest the message of this review be misconstrued, is the fact (based on published evidence) that large intakes of fluid, equal to and greater than 8 × 8, are advisable for the treatment or prevention of some diseases and certainly are called for under special circumstances, such as vigorous work and exercise, especially in hot climates. Since it is difficult or impossible to prove a negative—in this instance, the absence of scientific literature supporting the 8 × 8 recommendation—the author invites communications from readers who are aware of pertinent publications.
water  health  research  science 
may 2014 by Quercki
Kangaroos have three vaginas – Phenomena
This set-up is shared by all marsupials – the group of mammals that raise their young in pouches. Koalas, wombats and Tasmanian devils all share the three-vagina structure. The side ones carry sperm to the two uteruses (and males marsupials often have two-pronged penises), while the middle vagina sends the joey down to the outside world.
science  animals  marsupials  kangaroo  vagina 
may 2014 by Quercki
Like a virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey | BMJ
Objective To estimate the incidence of self report of pregnancy without sexual intercourse (virgin pregnancy) and factors related to such reporting, in a population representative group of US adolescents and young adults.

Design Longitudinal, population representative sample survey.

Setting Nationally representative, multiethnic National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, United States.

Participants 7870 women enrolled at wave I (1995) and completing the most recent wave of data collection (wave IV; 2008-09).

Main outcome measures Self reports of pregnancy and birth without sexual intercourse.

Results 45 women (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology. Although it was rare for dates of sexual initiation and pregnancy consistent with virgin pregnancy to be reported, it was more common among women who signed chastity pledges or whose parents indicated lower levels of communication with their children about sex and birth control.

Conclusions Around 0.5% of women consistently affirmed their status as virgins and did not use assisted reproductive technology, yet reported virgin births. Even with numerous enhancements and safeguards to optimize reporting accuracy, researchers may still face challenges in the collection and analysis of self reported data on potentially sensitive topics.
virgin  birth  research  science  religion  sex 
april 2014 by Quercki
Life as an Extreme Sport » Blog Archive » Revoking Power Redux
it’s been my experience that people react against ultimatums in the face of what is felt to be less-than-conclusive proof of “genuinely bad behaviour.” That while people were still debating “just how bad was it,” and what sort of impact said behaviour had on Zivkovic’s position as Scientific American blogs editor, the notion of a swift and universal ban/firing was going to be labeled over-reactive and inappropriately permanent.

And so I suggested a moderate course of action that I knew would seem prudent and calm, that most people would be able to support. I did this because I believed that by the time the one-year moratorium was up, enough information would have come out that the decisions to remove Zivkovic from positions of power would become permanent. Because I assumed that by then, the violations of trust would be great enough that, even if individuals made peace and were able to continue friendships with him, no one would contemplate placing him back into the power nexuses that he so abused.

But I want to be clear: I also made the suggestions I did for the sake of precedence. I believe that people, communities, need to have clear actions to follow when someone transgresses, especially when it comes to harassment (of any kind). And has been repeatedly stated in conversations on Twitter, blogs, and even by people we might consider experts, harassment is a form of discrimination and abuse that, at root, is about the abuse of power and authority.

Therefore, power and authority must be removed when a harasser is identified.
harassment  solution  science 
april 2014 by Quercki
Life as an Extreme Sport » Blog Archive » Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment
And that’s why, in the time until things are told, the following must happen. Zivkovic must:

• step down from the Science Online board permanently (done, as I understand it);
• have no further involvement with Science Online, until voted back with full support of the board and/or member resolution;
• be banned from attending any Science Online-related event, including the flagship conference, for a minimum of one year;
• step down from or be reassigned to a position other than Scientific American blogs editor. The new position should not be allowed unsupervised contact with freelancers for a minimum period of one year.
This achieves several things:

• the Science Online community will have a chance to define itself without Zivkovic’s presence/influence;
• people will be able to use the flagship conference to discuss sexism and harassment without worrying about a direct confrontation with Zivkovic;
• there will be no concern or worry from anyone that they’ve been excluded from presenting at Science Online or blogging at Scientific American because of retaliation;
• freelancers can be assured that their work is being judged based on what it is, not what they look like;
• there is the possibility for Zivkovic to demonstrate his contrition and improvement;
• everyone enough time to process, digest, and decide how they as individuals want to engage with Science Online, Scientific American, and Zivkovic himself.
And, most importantly, other victims of harassment will see that there is genuine support to be found in the online science writing and blogging community when speaking out against harassment, against someone beloved and with power; to show that there will be swift and severe consequences for bad behaviour.
harassment  solutions  science  jobs 
april 2014 by Quercki
Males and Females Differ in Specific Brain Structures | LabRoots | Read Science News, Articles and Current Events
Specifically, males on average had larger volumes and higher tissue densities in the left amygdala, hippocampus, insular cortex, putamen; higher densities in the right VI lobe of the cerebellum and in the left claustrum; and larger volumes in the bilateral anterior parahippocampal gyri, posterior cingulate gyri, precuneus, temporal poles, and cerebellum, areas in the left posterior and anterior cingulate gyri, and in the right amygdala, hippocampus, and putamen.

By contrast, females on average had higher density in the left frontal pole, and larger volumes in the right frontal pole, inferior and middle frontal gyri, pars triangularis, planum temporale/parietal operculum, anterior cingulate gyrus, insular cortex, and Heschl's gyrus; bilateral thalami and precuneus; the left parahippocampal gyrus, and lateral occipital cortex.

The results highlight an asymmetric effect of sex on the developing brain. Amber Ruigrok, who carried out the study as part of her PhD, said: "For the first time we can look across the vast literature and confirm that brain size and structure are different in males and females. We should no longer ignore sex in neuroscience research, especially when investigating psychiatric conditions that are more prevalent in either males or females."
male  female  brain  sex  difference  science  research 
february 2014 by Quercki
Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning: A Science-Based How-To
The Recipe for Perfect Cast Iron Seasoning
The basic idea is this: Smear a food-grade drying oil onto a cast iron pan, and then bake it above the oil’s smoke point. This will initiate the release of free radicals and polymerization. The more drying the oil, the harder the polymer. So start with the right oil.

Go to your local health food store or organic grocery and buy a bottle of flaxseed oil. It’s sold as an omega-3 supplement and it’s in the refrigeration section because it goes rancid so easily. Check the expiration date to make sure it’s not already rancid. Buy an organic flaxseed oil. You don’t want to burn toxic chemicals into your cookware to leach out forever more. It’s a fairly expensive oil. I paid $17 for a 17 ounce bottle of cold-pressed, unrefined, organic flaxseed oil. As it says on the bottle, shake it before you use it.

Strip your pan down to the iron using the techniques I describe in my popover post. Heat the pan in a 200°F oven to be sure it’s bone dry and to open the pores of the iron a little. Then put it on a paper towel, pour a little flaxseed oil on it (don’t forget to shake the bottle), and rub the oil all over the pan with your hands, making sure to get into every nook and cranny. Your hands and the pan will be nice and oily.

Now rub it all off. Yup – all. All. Rub it off with paper towels or a cotton cloth until it looks like there is nothing left on the surface. There actually is oil left on the surface, it’s just very thin. The pan should look dry, not glistening with oil. Put the pan upside down in a cold oven. Most instructions say to put aluminum foil under it to catch any drips, but if your oil coating is as thin as it should be, there won’t be any drips.

Turn the oven to a baking temperature of 500°F (or as high as your oven goes – mine only goes to 450°F) and let the pan preheat with the oven. When it reaches temperature, set the timer for an hour. After an hour, turn off the oven but do not open the oven door. Let it cool off with the pan inside for two hours, at which point it’s cool enough to handle.

The pan will come out of the oven a little darker, but matte in texture – not the semi-gloss you’re aiming for. It needs more coats. In fact, it needs at least six coats. So again rub on the oil, wipe it off, put it in the cold oven, let it preheat, bake for an hour, and let it cool in the oven for two hours. The picture above was taken after six coats of seasoning. At that point it starts to develop a bit of a sheen and the pan is ready for use.
castiron  skillet  science  **** 
january 2014 by Quercki
Scientists tell us their favourite jokes: 'An electron and a positron walked into a bar…' | Science | The Observer

■ Two theoretical physicists are lost at the top of a mountain. Theoretical physicist No 1 pulls out a map and peruses it for a while. Then he turns to theoretical physicist No 2 and says: "Hey, I've figured it out. I know where we are."
"Where are we then?"
"Do you see that mountain over there?"
"Well… THAT'S where we are."

I heard this joke at a physics conference in Les Arcs (I was at the top of a mountain skiing at the time, so it was quite apt). It was explained to me that it was first told by a Nobel prize-winning experimental physicist by way of indicating how out-of-touch with the real world theoretical physicists can sometimes be.
Jeff Forshaw, professor of physics and astronomy, University of Manchester
science  jokes 
january 2014 by Quercki
Heavy Metal: the Science of Cast Iron Cooking
There is no quick way to fully season a cast iron pan; the surface of cast iron becomes slicker and blacker the more it is used. Though most cast iron today is sold “pre-seasoned,” this cursory seasoning protects against rust, but not against sticking. A good non-stick surface forms over time, with use. The oil polymer on a well-used piece of cast iron is built of many thin layers deposited over time. Thick layers can flake off in large pieces. Thin layers will remain adhered to the pan and will slough off microscopically. A true seasoned surface will only form properly at temperatures well in excess of the 350-375 degree F temperature that some manufacturers recommend for seasoning cast iron. Low temperatures do not completely polymerize and break down oil and will leave a brown, somewhat sticky pan instead of a black, non-stick one. 400-500 degrees F is the effective range for seasoning.
castiron  food  science  cooking 
december 2013 by Quercki
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