Gene drive in the press: Between responsible research and responsible communication

Gene drive is a controversial genetic engineering technique that allows scientists to modify genes so that they quickly spread through a population without following the typical rules of heredity; this can include genes that are of no benefit to the plant or animal involved. Research into gene drives has accelerated since 2015 when another new …

Monkeypox

I recently saw these stats (as of May 31, 2022, there are 606 cases of Monkeypox worldwide, with the UK having 190, Spain 136, and  Portugal 100) and this graph (see featured image). And I thought: Should I write something about monkeypox? Then I thought: Why not, just to get things straight in my head. …

Extreme event/weather communication

Communication sciences span a large array of fields and issues. We have science communication, risk communication, crisis communication, health communication, and, of course climate change communication. Over the last few years, it has become clear to me that when it comes to climate and weather, all these communication efforts converge and become part of what …

Gene drives and metaphors

I have been writing about developments in the biosciences for twenty years. In that time, I have covered a wide variety of topics, such as cloning, genomics, the human genome project, the microbiome project, faecal microbial transplants, synthetic biology, epigenetics, genome editing and now gene drive. I was lucky enough to get many reflections on …

Endemic confusion

A few days ago, I saw this tweet by Bill Hanage and smiled: “For some reason there seems to be a lot of talk about endemicity again. For the avoidance of doubt, omicron is not endemic right now in much the same way that the moon is not a hamster”. I read many of the …

Francis Willughby and me

You have probably all heard of Newton or Halley or Hooke or Pepys … But have you heard of Willughby? I had, vaguely, but I did not look hard enough. They were all early members of the Royal Society (founded in 1660) and involved in a little scandal to which I’ll come later. But first …

IPCC reports, climate change and language work

This blog post is not about climate change communication. It is about what I call the ‘language work’ carried out by scientists when writing the various IPCC reports. Introduction On 9 August 2021 the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely the Contribution of Working Group 1 …