// Latest Posts

Making microbes public: A workshop report

This is a post by Carmen McLeod who participated in a workshop held at the University of Oxford  on 3/4 May 2017 entitled Making Microbes Public. She wrote the original post for the blog of the Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project and it has been reposted here with permission. Carmen is a social anthropologist currently based in the Nottingham …

The microbiome goes viral

In this post, I want to return to a topic that started to fascinate me in 2007, namely the microbiome. I published an article (with Iina Hellsten) about the metaphors used to make the microbiome public, but then didn’t do any further research on the topic, apart from writing a blog post stimulated by Jon Turney’s 2015 …

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 …

Cassini: Space probes, history and women

I have just read a lovely article by Rebekah Higgitt on the various Cassinis that worked in France as astronomers. One of them was Giovanni Domenico (or Jean Dominique) Cassini (8 June 1625 – 14 September 1712), the first director of the observatory founded by Louis XIV, and discoverer, amongst other things, of four satellites of the planet …

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 …

Biosocial: A brief conceptual history

I have recently come across the word ‘biosocial’ in various social science debates about epigenetics and other advances in the life- and bio-sciences. A chapter in a book on ‘social epigenetics’ (and the ‘biosocial’) says for example: “Epigenetics has considerable potential to transform social science by embedding mutually regulative reciprocal connections between biological and social …

Time and science communication

On 29 March, 2017 the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published the results of its inquiry into science communication. On 31 March Tim Caulfied tweeted about an article that Andy Miah had written about the report for The Conversation. Tim said: “How scientists should communicate their work in a post-truth era … …

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 …

An iconography of truth

With all the talk about post-truth and post-facts swirling around me, I thought I had to write something about all this, about how utterly important it is to stand up for facts, truth, evidence, expertise, sincerity, honesty, dignity, integrity, fairness, justice…., however hard that might be in the political, economic, social, cultural, intellectual and academic …