Our microbiome: Separating hype from health

This is a blog post by Nicholas Staropoli, originally posted at the Epigenetics Literacy Project on April 18, 2017. It’s reposted here with permission. The post deals with the issue of hype, which we have discussed a lot on this blog; in this post the focus is on the microbiome. *** The details of science — how to …

Epigenetics, hype and woo

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new twitter account: @EpigeneticsBs (short for ‘epigenetics bullshit’). Its mission is to make epigenetic ‘bullshit’ public, or as it says: “There’s a lot of #epigenetics pseudoscience & quackery out there. We RT some of it for your edification and entertainment.” These (re)tweets are produced by people working …

Making sense of plasticity

I recently got an invitation to a workshop on ‘Plasticity and its Limits’ (which will bring together scholars from the social sciences, humanities and life sciences). When I accepted the invitation I had, I have to confess, not given much thought to the concept of plasticity – I had, however, written some blog posts about …

Epigenetics, hype and harm

I first became interested in epigenetics in around 2010/2011. I know this because I trawled my emails and found a link that I had sent myself on 11 February 2011 to an article in Mother Jones entitled “The illustrated guide to epigenetics”. The first paragraph of this guide is rather prophetic: “This month marks the …

Assembling a synthetic human genome: Science and the politics of openness

There has recently been some commotion in the field of synthetic biology about a meeting held at Harvard on 10 May 2016 at which scientists discussed the creation of a synthetic human genome. The meeting was a closed, invitation-only meeting. In a field of science that takes pride in its openness and transparency, this created …

Precision metaphors in a messy biological world

The promises of nanoscience and nanotechnology have been framed by a variety of future oriented metaphors, such as the those of the fantastic voyage or the master builder. The former metaphor has been especially prominent in early reports on the promises of nanomedicine, but it is still in use today. What happens when real breakthroughs …

The book of life: Reading, writing and editing

I have been observing the use of the ‘book of life’ metaphor in genetics and genomics since the year 2000, when it was used to announce that the human genome, our entire DNA, had been roughly sequenced. The Human Genome Project had begun in 1990 and was completed in 2003. Its achievement consisted in finding …

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 …

Science, sensationalism and the dangers of over-selling research

This is a GUEST POST by FREYA HARRISON. Freya works in Steve Diggle’s group in the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Nottingham, where she researches the ecology and evolution of cooperation. She spends most of her time exploring how communication and cooperation help bacteria to cause chronic infections, but she is also …

Science in Public 2013 – Call for Panel Proposals

UPDATE: You can see the full Call For Papers including details of all the proposed panels at http://scienceinpublic.org/conference/  8th Annual Science in Public Conference, 22-23 July 2013 on ‘Critical Perspectives on Making Science Public’ Call for Panel Proposals The University of Nottingham is proud to host the 8th Annual Science in Public Conference, 22-23 July 2013. …