Recent Science Articles

The Greens must get better at communicating our support for science

by Adam Ramsay     June 8, 2012 at 9:02 am

The Green Party is more pro-science than any other party. Party policy commits 1% of GDP to public funding for science research.

Whilst Labour, Lib Dems and Tories increasingly demand that researchers demonstrate the immediate commercial viability of their work, Greens argue that we should fund science for its own sake, because discovery is key to civilisation.

Even on areas where we once were a little wobbly, various conference motions in recent years mean we can now be proud of our polices.
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Mixing the science of GM foods with politics will always be messy

by Sunny Hundal     May 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

I’d to return to the rumbling controversy that is the GREENS vs SCIENTISTS showdown, a.k.a. the decision by some Greens and some environmentalists to protest at the GM foods site at Rothahmstead on Sunday.

I wrote a piece for the Guardian that didn’t convince all detractors, and I got some excellent replies I’d like to address.

I said on CIF: “The divide is not between ‘pro-science’ and ‘anti-science’ political parties at all. Rather, politicians and parties will always side with science when it suits their constituency or aligns with their interests.” — Let me elaborate.
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Why protests against the GM foods field trials is pro-science

by Guest     May 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

contribution by James MacKenzie

There’s been a lot of fuss this week about Jenny Jones’ support for Take The Flour Back, a revival of mid-1990s anti-GM activism. On one side, so the story goes, you have plucky scientists just doing research, and on the other side you’ve got anti-science vandals and woo-merchants.

The truth is rather different, but to be fair to the skeptic firing squad, some of the Take The Flour Back logic was poor. They’re worried that one of the genes inserted at Rothamsted is ‘most similar to a cow’.

I should declare an interest, or at least some history – I was convicted in Edinburgh in 1999 for an anti-GM protest, and acquitted on appeal in 2003.
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Poor memory? Blame evolution, not Google

by Unity     July 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

If you mooch around the science sections of popular news websites this weekend then chances are you’ll encounter something called ‘The Google Effect’.

From what I can tell, the BBC’s report started out the headline “Internet is ‘changing our memory’” but have since backed off a little and are now running the story as ‘Internet’s memory effects quantified in computer study’.

The Guardian – with perhaps more than half an eye on climbing Google’s own search rankings with its take on the story – has gone for the headline; ‘Poor memory? Blame Google.
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How popular is Nuclear energy exactly?

by Guest     March 14, 2011 at 9:10 am

contribution by Climate Sock

Caring about international public views on nuclear power shouldn’t be at the top of many people’s to-do list right now. For one, donating to the Red Cross should be a lot of places higher (and that’s also, sort of, what I’m going to write about).

But pretty soon now, once the stories from Japan of individual tragedy and wonderful survival have been played out, much of the media will turn to the question of whether nuclear power is safe. And a part of that reporting will be, whether people think that nuclear power is safe.
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The Green Party now has a Science policy I can be proud of

by Guest     March 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

contribution by Alasdair Thompson

At Spring conference last year we re-worked much of our health policy, removing references to homoeopathy and other ‘alternative medicines’, reversing the, frankly bizarre, opposition to embryonic stem-cell research and supporting an evidence-based approach to funding for treatments on the NHS.

This year it was the turn of our science and technology policy section to face review and we made some, really quite substantial, progress, stripping out unnecessary detail and bluster and adding in policy which I think will actually attract us votes from the scientific community.
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The Slow Death of the DWP ‘Lie Detector’

by Unity     November 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm

More than a year ago, Liberal Conspiracy published a short series of briefings on a controversial trial of a so-called ‘voice risk analysis’ system by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Yesterday, the ultimate fate of these systems was revealed in a rather terse response to a parlimentary question tabled by the Tory MP for East Yorkshire, Greg Knight:

Chris Grayling (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions

In 2008-09 a total of £1,734,314.07 was paid directly to the 24 local authorities involved in voice risk analysis pilots. There was no DWP funding for voice risk analysis in subsequent years. The pilots finished in December 2009. Local authorities can continue to use voice risk analysis at their own discretion and at their own expense.

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How can Vince Cable predict what is useful science?

by Chris Dillow     September 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

One of the more unpleasant aspects of the New Labour government was its anti-Hayekian pretence that central government could acquire knowledge which, in fact, is unobtainable. The coalition has inherited this boneheaded idea.

Take Vince Cable’s recent speech:

There is no justification for taxpayers money being used to support research which is neither commercially useful nor theoretically outstanding.

The problem here is that it is impossible to predict what research will be commercially useful.
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Why a ban on ‘dangerous dogs’ doesn’t work

by Kate Belgrave     August 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

This week, DEFRA is considering proposals to change the dangerous dogs act.

And rightly so – the act’s ridiculous breed-specific ban must be abolished and the act changed to shift all responsibility for dog control to dog owners.

I’ve been talking to SPCAs and dog control experts around the world this year. They say politicians who insist that dog control legislation should include breed bans compromise public safety, because breed bans do not reduce attack numbers.

They’re lobbying government to put proven dog control programmes in place:
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Making bogus research claims, the homeopathic way

by Unity     August 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

With homeopathy rearing up its ugly head in the wake of Adam Grace’s well-founded criticisms of Caroline Lucas, I think its time for something a little different here on LC – a bit of more or less pure science blogging.

To be a bit more specific, what I’m going to do here is explain one of the more common ‘tricks’ that homeopathic ‘researchers’ use to generate bogus claims for the efficacy of their ‘magic’ sugar pill and water using nothing more than the abstract of a piece of ‘research’  published only a couple of months ago in a homeopathic journal.

The paper in question carries the impressive sounding title ‘Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor expression in KATO-III cells after Helicobacter pylori stimulation under the influence of strychnos Nux vomica and Calendula officinalis‘ and comes from the journal ‘Homeopathy’, which is published by Elsevier (publisher of both The Lancet and Gray’s Anatomy) – and don’t worry if the title seems like gibberish for now, I’ll quickly explain all the salient features of the research as we go along. continue reading… »

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