good science over misinformation – – – a new website to check out!

Academics Review – good science over misinformation

A new website has been started to examine claims against GM foods by Jeffrey Smith (author of Seeds of Deception). Academics Review was founded by Bruce Chassy, Ph.D (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Dr. David Tribe, Ph. D. (University of Melbourne, Australia). Their news release highlights the “point-by-point scientific analysis of Smith’s claims” available on their website. It’s an impressive, well-organized and easily understood rebuttal by the two experts.

Thanks to AgBioWorld for highlighting the news release in it’s AgBioView email-newsletter (March 24, 2010) – if you don’t subscribe already to their email, you should. Sign up for it through Academics Review **

Making science great, technology great and art great: How technology helps artists push their boundaries

“That’s what makes science great, and technology great and art great,…It’s about playing with ideas. You try a few things out and see what happens, then try more and more and you come up with something that is genius.”

Intriguing… Mapping Controversies course….

…developed by Bruno Latour.
“…[The course enables one to] map, and therefore under- stand in a more tangible way, the different positions at stake…concentrate on developing cogent explanations for underlying reasoning and assumptions…offer an interpretation of the dynamic of the conflict, propose a definition of any offered proofs, and finally present a hypothesis about its resolution.

“The discipline of examining scientific controversy in this manner corresponds more and more to the actual situations…”

“Innocentive” – a web based “open innovation” tool

“Innocentive” – a web based “open innovation” tool to facilitate problem solving and facilitate recruitment.

Companies contract with Innocentive as “seekers” to post R&D challenges. scientists register as “solvers” to review challenges and submit solutions online. The Company then reviews submissions and selects the best solution and awards the winning scientist / solver.

Over 1000 challenges posted to date… over 5 Million $$$ awarded!

Getting cozy to advance science….

“Relationship building key social convention for scientists and social scientists”
Ryan. C. etal.
Valgen Policy Brief 2009

“GE3LS research on agriculture and agro-industrial products is located in the ‘fuzzy’ territory of academic inter-disciplinarily and is often a collaboration and exchange with the public and private sectors. How GE3LS researchers construct their research community through networking and knowledge exchange remains an important research question in its own right, one with implications for knowledge mobilisation of GE3LS and science and technology research.”

Fischer Boel: an EU voice for advocacy in ag and trade

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes extracted from speeches by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel:

“Technology is needed to “produce more food with less”…As climate change gathers pace, and as water shortages and disease become more serious, we can’t afford to shut our minds to the possible benefits of GM crops with improved resistance to disease and environmental stress. It’s essential that, around the world, we listen clearly to the voice of science when taking decisions …” (World Summit on Food Security, Rome – November 17, 2009)

“Month after month, GMOs receive a clean bill of health from EFSA, but then get stuck because Member States cannot reach any qualified majority, in favour or against, when it comes to the vote on a proposal for authorisation. So first the relevant committee decides nothing; then the Council decides nothing; and finally, the Commission grants authorisation, as laid down in the rules. This process swallows huge amounts of time…vital time is being lost in procedures. The result is that a growing number of GM products are widely used in other parts of the world, but are not yet authorised in the European Union – not because we’ve found evidence of risk, but because the political decision is being knocked around like a ball in a slow-motion tennis match…For the farm sector, the imbalance between the European Union and the rest of the world is a clear and present financial threat…We must vote on the basis of science, not prejudice…” (Policy Dialogue at “European Policy Centre”, Brussels – October 15, 2009)

Notes on collaboration in scientific communities…

“Several explanations have been given for the increase in coauthorship over time (Laband and Tollison 2000; McDowell and Michael 1983). Funding requirements, particularly in large lab settings, might induce collaboration (Laband and Tollison 2000; Zuckerman and Merton 1973). While social scientists are rarely as dependent on labs, the rise of large-scale data collection efforts suggests a similar team-production model. Training differences between disciplines might also account for coauthorship differences. Advanced work by PhD students in the natural sciences is usually closely related to an advisor’s work, and commonly results in collaboration. Social science students, in contrast, tend to work on projects that are more independent.” (Moody 2004 (American Sociological Review; volume 69: 217)

In the Canadian context…
“…a number of SSH disciplines have more paradigms competing with one another than do those in the NSE, and as a result SSH literature is more fragmented – a situation that hinders the formation of a solid “core” of scientific journals –, thereby making article-based bibliometric analysis more difficult to conduct successfully.” (Larivière etal 2006; Scientometrics (60;3): 521).

“…According to MOODY (2004), the collaboration rate for books is generally lower than that for articles. Therefore scholarly articles are a more informative medium for analysing collaboration not only in the natural sciences but also in the social sciences and humanities, although we must be careful not to generalize the results to all scholarly research output.” (Larivière etal 2006; Scientometrics (60;3): 521).

“The collaborative activities of Canadian scholars, as measured by the number of joint publications, are increasing in both the NSE and the SSH. There is also an upward trend in international collaboration. However, the rate of growth is not the same across all disciplines. While rates for all types of collaboration in the social sciences rose steadily since 1980, collaboration rates for the humanities remained unchanged in a number of cases. Overall, psychology and economics and administration were the disciplines with the strongest collaboration, followed by social sciences, education, and law. In the humanities, history was the discipline in which collaborative activities were most frequent, but the rate remains very low. In the humanities and literature, formal collaboration based on co-authorship is a marginal phenomenon. Not surprisingly, the disciplines with the highest collaboration rates are, in general, the ones in which journal articles are the main medium of knowledge dissemination.” (Larivière etal 2006; Scientometrics (60;3): 531).

Irrational thinking vs scientific progress

I like this… a blog entitled “Synthetic Biology: Why /Not/ Pursuing Crazy Biotech Is Dangerous .”

“[Michael] Specter, who covers the science beat for The New Yorker, is pissed off. Forces on both the left and right have been coming down on good clean science like never before. Yes, this “denialism,” as he calls it, comes from both sides. People on the left might think of it as Bush-flavored Intelligent Design agendas and bans on stem-cell research, while those on the right would recognize liberal whining about vaccinations and genetically modified food. It’s all of these factions, and plenty more…” (Wilson Rothman)…

To Specter, ignorance is death. Check out Specter’s book: /Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives/