// Latest Posts

Biology and sociology: estrangement and entanglement

Ever since my PhD, I have been fascinated by the interplay, interrelations, mutual inspirations, struggle and strife between various disciplines that began to establish themselves during the 19th century, such as linguistics (which became the focus of my research), sociology, biology and so on. In recent years, a little flood of literature has emerged that …

Genome editing: Invisible mending

Last week I had a few days in Oxford to visit old haunts, such as the Ashmolean, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. I also went to a little exhibition in the basement of the Museum of the History of Science. The exhibition by Anna Dumitriu was entitled BioArt and Bacteria. …

Climate alarmism and climate realism

In 2013 I wrote a blog post on climate alarmism and a year later one on its conceptual and ideological twin climate realism. A week ago, a comment by Jeffrey Levine appeared underneath my second post on climate realism which said: “We’re now three years out from the original date of this post. The usage of climate …

Genome editing, metaphors and language choices

Genetic Alliance and the Progress Educational Trust recently published a report entitled ‘’Basic understanding of genome editing”, based on research supported by the Wellcome Trust. As I have worked on metaphors relating to genetic, genomics and genome editing for more than twenty years, I was particularly interested in this report. Unlike many other publications, including …

Making science public: Taking stock

When we wrote our ‘Making Science Public: Challenges and Opportunities’ research project some six or so years ago, various scandals had rocked the unspoken contract between science and society, universities and their users (BSE, MMR, climategate etc.). This contributed to a widely held perception, and I stress perception, of a lack of public trust in …

Why are NGOs sceptical of gene editing?

This is a guest post by Richard Helliwell. It is based on the recent article Why are NGOs sceptical of genome editing? published in EMBO Reports, co-authored with Sarah Hartley (University of Exeter) Warren Pearce (University of Sheffield), and Liz O’Neill (GM Freeze). It is the first study examining NGO perspectives on genome editing. Genome …

Collision, collaboration and communication

The other day I read an article on why academics are losing relevance in society. I noticed that it contained a picture of a celebratory cake with the inscription “Here’s to the first direct detection of gravitational waves” (after two black holes collided). This event happened in 2016 and was widely celebrated around the world, …

Social scientist needed to collaborate with synthetic biologists!

 It’s that time of year again when we send out a call to undergraduates to become part of an exciting team adventure that ends in a big jamboree in Boston in November 2018 (see featured image). We especially need a social science undergraduate to take part (law, sociology, politics, etc.), with an interest in interdisciplinary …

Eyes, erosion and expertise

Over the last month or so I have been struggling with some eye problems. Several times I found myself in Eye Casualty and observed the sun rising over the Queen’s Medical Centre buildings. I am glad they exist just around the corner from where I live. It took a long time to get the bottom …

Science and metaphor: Some historical perspectives

Over the last thirty years or so I have written about metaphor and its importance to language, thought and social interaction. In the last fifteen years, I have focused in on the relation between metaphor and science, especially science communication. However, only recently has it dawned on me how little I actually understand about metaphor …