// Latest Posts

Encounters between life and language

Philip Ball has just written a great article dissecting new research showing that there is no ‘gene for’ homosexuality. He notes the fallacies behind the facile way of pointing to individual genes and saying what they are ‘for’. This is dangerous, especially when talking about genes for behavioural traits. Single genes don’t determine such traits …

Grace de Laguna: A forgotten pioneer in the history of the language sciences

Recently I was asked to write something about Grace de Laguna. Grace de what… I wondered… until I googled myself and found that I had written a few pages about her work in my 1996 book on the history of pragmatics. That was a blast from the past! But this also made me think. I …

Epi-pins: Epigenetics on Pinterest

This post has been co-authored with Cath Ennis, University of British Colombia, Vancouver (author of Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide). *** Cath and I are interested in how epigenetics is made public, for example through visual aids, such as drawings, photos, diagrams, infographics and so on. We thought one way to access such visuals would be …

A Whole New (re-cycled) World? An interdisciplinary conversation about the Circular Economy, Synthetic Biology and Sustainability Goals

This is a guest post by Penny Polson, Carmen McLeod, Sarah Hartley and Eleanor Hadley Kershaw *** Introduction to the Circular Economy The notion of a ‘circular economy’ has been gaining a lot of traction lately. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in particular, has raised the profile of this radical rethinking of how consumer goods are …

On the division of social knowledge and its breakdown

Most social scientists reading this title will think, aha that’s modelled on Émile Durkheim’s De La Division du Travail Social (The Division of Labour in Society) (1893). They ‘know’ that book; at least its title. It’s part of their knowledge repertoire. What’s underneath the title may not go very deep or may be forgotten, as in …

Poo and puns: Recent representations of faecal microbiota transplants in English language news media

This post, by Carmen McLeod, Brigitte Nerlich and Rusi Jaspal, has recently been published on the Microbiology Society Blog. We reblog it here with permission. *** Bacteria, germs, poo…these are words that normally don’t evoke images of health and happiness. The relationship between humans and bacteria is often understood as a combative one. Bacteria are …

Making the transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of trauma real

This post has been co-authored with Aleksandra Stelmach and Alan Miguel Valdez *** Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (TEI) is a contested hypothesis within the complex field of epigenetics. The guess is that there are molecular mechanisms (‘beyond the gene’) through which social, cultural and physical experiences impact the human body and are transmitted to future generations. …

What is a climate change communicator to do?

In a recent article, social scientists claim that a rhetoric of deadlines to urge action on climate change is ‘dangerous’. While I agree that it might be dangerous to get into a situation where you extend deadlines forever if you cannot achieve them, setting no deadlines at all may make it difficult to talk about …