// Latest Posts

Coronavirus: Risk, rumour and resilience 

I was just starting to write this post, when I saw a tweet from Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, quoting Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, who said, as widely reported: “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, …

Engineering biology? Sure! But which kind?

This is a guest post by Massimiliano Simons who is a postdoctoral researcher at the department of philosophy and moral sciences at Ghent University, Belgium. *** Biology is a mess, not only the natural processes out there but also the science in the lab. Every biological rule seems to have exceptions and all biological laboratories …

Moral Dilemmas in Science Journalism about Genetics Research: The case of gene drives

Guest post by Rebecca Hardesty, Ph.D. Rebecca Hardesty is a postdoctoral scholar in science education and communication at UC San Diego in its Division of Biological Sciences and the Teaching + Learning Commons. *** The New York Times Magazine rang in the New Year with a featured piece by Jennifer Kahn recounting the promises and …

Warnings, war metaphors and infectious diseases: A little lit review

We are living through another global outbreak of an infectious disease: this time it’s a new version of the coronavirus. This outbreak of disease is, as usual, accompanied by an outbreak of metaphors….As Robert Dingwall has pointed out in a great Wired article: “As countless media outlets have characterized it, governments around the world have …

Gene drive and grey squirrels: Science and media

At the beginning of January 2019 an article, entitled “Accelerating Evolution” appeared in The Biologist, a journal published by the Royal Society of Biology (The Biologist 66(6) p18-21). The authors, Bruce Whitelaw and Gus McFarlane, work at the Roslin Institute in Scotland which was involved with the creation of Dolly the cloned sheep in 1996, coincidentally the occasion of …

Bushfires and climate change communication: Between amplification and attenuation

For about a decade I have been thinking and writing about extreme weather events and their links to human-induced climate change, and this included quite a few references to Australia, especially droughts, heatwaves and bushfires. I thought the Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico, lived through by some of my family, was bad. I thought …

Making Science Public 2019: An overview

Every year I think: This will be the last year I write something for this blog… and each year I write a bit more. And so it was this year. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I really don’t know. But it distracts me from life’s increasing troubles and keeps me sane. …

The Power of Plasticity: Epigenetics in Science Fiction

This is another guest post by Cath Ennis in our series of posts on epigenetics and popular culture. *** One of the fascinating things about epigenetics is how quickly some of the public perceptions of the field have raced far beyond the actual state of the science. I’ve seen and heard countless online and real …