Making Science Public

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Science, hype and fun

In one of my early posts for this blog I talked about hype and about how hype can be used honestly and fraudulently. In one of my later posts I talked about CRISPR and how scientists are trying to deal with this gene editing technology responsibly. So I should have known better! Following the fun …

Pluto and pareidolia

As everybody knows by now, New Horizons has been flying past Pluto and has beamed down astonishing images. One of these shows a peach or bronze coloured planetary object with a lighter pattern on the side that I first saw as a ‘heart’. Many others did so too, including NASA (it will now name this …

Joining the dots: Pluto, Kant and the nature of scientific knowledge

In his Critique of Practical Reason (1788) Immanuel Kant wrote these most beautiful words: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and reverence, the more often and steadily one reflects on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not need to search for them …

Ash dieback (Chalara), free trade, and the technocracy of biosecurity

This is a post by Judith Tsouvalis, one of the research fellows on the Making Science Public team. In March 2012, tree and plant health became a matter of national concern in Britain following the discovery of an East Asian fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England. The ash saplings infected by …

Consensus in science

At the Circling the Square 2 conference there was a lot of talk about ‘consensus’ and Mike Hulme gave an inspiring key note lecture about the concept from a philosophical and sociological perspective (Paul Matthews has provided a summary on the conference blog). All this made me think a bit more about the meaning of …

Expertise and the changing nature of universities: Reflections on a recent European Ombudsman ruling

A recent ruling by the European Ombudsman highlights the effects of the changing nature of the university on the use of expertise in science governance and policy-making more broadly. The Ombudsman recognises universities are developing closer ties with industry and becoming commercial entities in research production and commercialisation of results. She argues that traditional notions …

Improving climate change communications: moving beyond scientific certainty

This is a co-authored post with Gregory Hollin. It is based upon our new paper in Nature Climate Change, which is the first piece of original research from science and technology studies (STS) published in the journal. In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the …

Extreme weather talk: The sequel

Two years ago I published a blog post on extreme weather. This showed that unlike media reporting on climate change, which has generally been going down since 2007 (with some variations and a bit of an upsurge now, see Max Boykoff’s graph at CSTPR), media reporting on ‘extreme weather’ seems to be going up more …

Ta(l)king responsibility

In social science and policy circles there has been a lot of talk about Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). However, nobody quite knows yet what this means and how it works in the context of harsh economic realities. In the meantime, natural scientists have taken responsibility for their research and innovations in the context of …