Bushfires and climate change communication: Between amplification and attenuation

For about a decade I have been thinking and writing about extreme weather events and their links to human-induced climate change, and this included quite a few references to Australia, especially droughts, heatwaves and bushfires. I thought the Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico, lived through by some of my family, was bad. I thought …

Making Science Public 2019: An overview

Every year I think: This will be the last year I write something for this blog… and each year I write a bit more. And so it was this year. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I really don’t know. But it distracts me from life’s increasing troubles and keeps me sane. …

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 …

Metaphors, machines and the meaning of life

Machine metaphors are ubiquitous in biology, nowhere more so than in synthetic biology, a type of biology that is inspired by engineering and design. This has attracted the attention of metaphor analysts, but also of philosophers and ethicists. Various scholars, both from the humanities/social sciences and the life sciences have grappled with some of the …

Making Science Public: End of year blog round-up, 2018

2018 is the year that the Leverhulme Trust funded programme ‘Making Science Public’ really ended (today our director Sujatha Raman is submitting the final report to the Leverhulme Trust). My last post on the programme, entitled ‘Making Science public: six years on’, mentioned one of the most important milestones of our work, namely the publication with Manchester …

Cells and coincidences: Some holiday musings

We are on holiday and I was reading the delightful book by Tim Birkhead, The Wonderful Mr Willughby: The first True Ornithologist. I had bought it because Francis Willughby had connections to Wollaton Hall, a Hall I see almost everyday when I walk to work at the University of Nottingham, where Willughby’s papers are kept. …

Synthetic biology: Modelling joys and fears brick by brick

Carmen McLeod, Stevienna de Saille and I recently published an article in which we used findings from a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop to show that scientists’ (synthetic biologists’) views of risk and responsibility are much more ‘societal’ than one might expect. This means, involving them in a new form of science governance (RRI), which itself involves new …

Making Science Public: Six years on

It’s coming up to May 2018. In May 2012 we started our five-year Making Science Public Project, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I directed the programme between May 2012 and October 2016. I then retired and Sujatha Raman took over as director. The project had a non-cost extension for a year and now …

Making Science Public: End of year round-up, 2017

This is my sixth end-of-year blog post for the Making Science Public blog. A lot has changed since I posted my first one at the end of 2012 (and this post is my 307th). The Making Science Public programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, has virtually come to an end but the topics it began …

False balance

Last week an appearance by Lord Lawson on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme caused somewhat of a stir. This was not the first time this had happened. The same happened in 2014. In both instances the BBC invited Lord Lawson to talk about climate change. In both cases this was greeted with a chorus …