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 …

Responsibility and openness

Hilary Sutcliffe (RRI specialist) recently made me aware of an article by Arie Rip published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation. At the time of our twitter exchange the article was not openly available, so Stephen Curry (Open access specialist) sent me a copy. The article is entitled ‘The clothes of the emperor. An essay …

Rogues and resistance

Over the last few weeks, when I could tear myself away from my twitter maelstrom of doom, I have been reading Anthony Gottlieb’s The Dream of Enlightenment. On pp. 198-190 I came across Adam Smith’s eulogy of David Hume (1711–1776) in which he recounts a visit to the dying philosopher. During that visit Hume told …