Archive for the ‘science’ Tag

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment


Monday, Alan Alda an actor who played roles in M*A*S*H and the West Wing was at the University of Vermont. But he wasn’t talking about the silver screen instead how to help the public get beyond what he calls a “blind date” with science.

He says he wants to make sure scientists can explain their research clearly to anyone.

“The students who are here will be possibly in the forefront of those scientists who are able to communicate about their work effectively,” said Alda.

It’s a joint effort with Alda’s center at Stony Brook University in New York. One he hopes it will become part of the science curriculum across the country.

“It’s an ambitious idea, I realize that. But I hope what will happen is that when you study science, you take it for granted that you’re going to be studying communication at the same time,” said Alda.

He says, it’s all about relating to people and that involves improvisation. Adapted theater exercises will teach students how to read their listeners and adjust their presentations to suit their audience.

“It’s not only important what’s in your head when you’re communicating, what’s important is, are they getting it? Otherwise, it’s the tree falling in the forest,” said Alda.



Quote of the Day   2 comments

In an interview with the Inquiring Minds podcast, astrophysicist and Cosmos star Neil deGrasse Tyson claimed that those who “cherry pick science,” like climate change deniers, “simply don’t understand how science works.”

“That’s what I claim,” he continued, because “if they did, they’d be less prone to just assert that somehow scientists are clueless.” He also said that he wouldn’t debate anti-scientific people — as Bill Nye famously did last month — because “I don’t have the time or the energy or the interest in doing so. As an educator, I’d rather just get people thinking straight in the first place, so I don’t have to then debate them later on.”

He took pains to note that his position is not explicitly anti-religious, either, merely anti-dogmatic. “Any time you have a doctrine where that is the truth that you assert, and that what you call the truth is unassailable, you’ve got doctrine, you’ve got dogma on your hands. And so Cosmos,” he said, is “an offering of science, and a reminder that dogma does not advance science; it actually regresses it.”

When asked specifically about climate change, Tyson said that the deniers have the same “tools of science” as everyone else, they merely misuse them. “You are equipped and empowered with this cosmic perspective, achieved by the methods and tools of science, applied to the universe,” he said.

The question is, “are you going to be a good shepherd, or a bad shepherd? Are you going to use your wisdom to protect civilization, or will you go at it in a shortsighted enough way to either destroy it, or be complicit in its destruction? If you can’t bring your scientific knowledge to bear on those kinds of decisions, then why even waste your time?”

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

Sam Bell is in the third year of a PhD program in geology at Brown University. Geology as in rocks. But Bell also moonlights as the the state coordinator of The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, the state affiliate of the 10-year-old Progressive Democrats of America. And in his work with The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, Bell was instrumental to the investigation that ultimately led to the National Rifle Association paying the second largest campaign finance fine in the state’s history.

Last year, Bell and his group started digging into the financial relationship between the NRA’s state-level political action committee, which over the previous decade had given tens of thousands of dollars to Rhode Island lawmakers, and the NRA’s national PAC, known as the NRA Political Victory Fund. What Bell and his associates found led them to file a complaint with the state’s Board of Elections, alleging a number of serious campaign finance violations. In apparent response, the NRA last year quietly dissolved its Rhode Island PAC. Then, earlier this year, news came that the pro-gun group had reached a settlement with the state, and agreed to pay a $63,000 fine — officially for not creating a separate bank account for money the state PAC received from the larger national PAC.

In an interview with TPM this week, Bell explained how his interest in science led him to politics.

“The thing that first got me interested in getting involved in politics was watching how science got devastated by cuts to fundings, particularly at the federal level but also at the state level.” Bell said. “I had the sort of disappointing realization that politics has a huge amount to do with the advancement of science. And in many ways the best thing one can do for science is to get politicians to be willing to support it.”

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

Bill Nye, The Science Guy on Real Time with Bill Mahr “South Africa has a space program because they know that if they get eight thousand PhD people running around in South Africa, their quality of life is going to go up.  So everybody, we have a mission going to Jupiter, that’s going to swing by Earth on October 9th, don’t miss it, if you can.  We have a mission, people say what’s your favorite planet?  Pluto, OK we’re gonna go to Pluto.  We’ll be there in 2015.  These things take an extraordinary amount of time.  We spend one and a half billion dollars on planetary science.  How long does it take us to spend one and a half billion in Afghanistan?  Twenty minutes?  A half hour?”

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

Bill Maher  “The grown-up answer to our massive national problems is “Identify them scientifically and prioritize.” The Republican answer is “There isn’t a problem, and anyone who tells you different is a liar who hates America. We don’t have to make hard choices. We just have to ignore science and math. That’s why God gave us values.”

Posted August 25, 2012 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

Tagged with , , , ,

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

Fareed Zakaria talking about health care and the Affordable Care Act “For example, smoking rates are higher in France than in the United States so the French population has higher rates of lung disease. Yet, the French system is able to treat the disease far more effectively than happens in the United States.

Its levels of severity and fatality are three times lower than in this country and yet France spends eight times less on treatments per person than the U.S. system, eight times less.

Or consider Britain, which handles diabetes far more effectively than the U.S. while spending less than half of what we spend per person. The study concludes that the British system is five times more productive in managing diabetes than the United States is.

To understand the issue better, I spoke with Daniel Vasella, the chairman (and former chief executive) of Novartis and a physician by training. He is also frankly pro-market and pro-American, both of which have occasionally made him a target for some criticism in Europe.

Vasella emphasized that there is no single model that works best, but he explained that France and Britain have been better at tackling diabetes and lung disease because they take a system-wide approach that gives all health-care providers incentive to focus on early detection and cost-effective treatment and that makes wellness the goal.

So, I asked him is the lesson that only the government can produce system-wide improvements. Vasella’s brief answer is, “Yes, this is a case where you need government action.”

You see economists have often written about “the asymmetry of information”, areas where consumers are not expert enough to be able to determine what product is best. Evidence increasingly shows that this is true for health.

After all, consumers freely make the choice to smoke, eat junk food and forgo preventative care; all of which are highly likely to make them sick, force up their health-care costs and lower their quality of life. Having us spend more of the money ourselves is not likely to solve the cost crisis in health care.”