Public trust in science: Myths and realities

The March for Science has come and gone. There was no fuss; but there was wit and fun; and solidarity and conviviality. The march did what it set out to do: it got people talking about science and politics. During the march, some tweets jumped out at me. They focused on the thorny issue of …

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 …

Acceleration, autonomy and responsibility

In recent emails and meetings there has been a lot of talk about ‘acceleration’, both about the rhetorical use of acceleration in the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and about the reality of living in an accelerated academy. In this post I will examine ‘acceleration’ a bit further, especially in the context of …

Snapshots of the unknown – some holiday souvenirs

On holiday at the English seaside I read two very different books: a popular science book on Aristotle’s biology by Armand Marie Leroi (The Lagoon, 2014) and a novel by Jules Verne about a sea voyage to the North pole (Les Aventures du Capitaine Hatteras, 1864). While reading these books, I also came across an …

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 …