Tag Archives: science

Classic Science Article Blog Carnival

A gianThe Giant’s Shoulders” (TGS) is a new blog carnival in which scientists select a classic paper from their field and write a short piece about its contribution and influence. (For those who have never heard the phrase, a “blog carnival” is a collection of links to web items on a particular topic that has no one home, but is hosted at a variety of different blogs in turn.) TGS is the brainchild of someone who goes by the moniker “skullsinthestars” and will be posted on a monthly basis for the foreseeable future.

The first issue of TGS is being hosted by A Blog Around the Clock, a blog run by “Coturnix,” the Online Community Manager at Public Library of Science. (I oughta get myself one of these cool web-monikers! Whaddya think? “Professor Psychoradix”? No, too ostentatious. How about “HistoChristo”? Or “HistoChristo29”?) Continue reading Classic Science Article Blog Carnival

Does the History of Science Matter?

The June 2008 issue of the leading history of science journal Isis contains a “Focus” section on the question “What is the Value of History of Science?” The section was organized by Jane Maienschein of the Center for Biology & Society at Arizona State U. and George Smith of the Tufts U. philosophy department. They introduce the other five article of the section with a piece entitled “What Difference Does History of Science Make, Anyway?” In the opening paragraph, Maienschein and Smith write:

Simon Schaffer had remarked… that never has the market for books on the history of science been greater-and never has the historical accuracy of so many of the most popular books been worse. We worried that scientists and others want history, but they do not know how to tell good history from bad.

But even if they could tell the good from the bad, what difference would it make? Continue reading Does the History of Science Matter?

Science Journalism Sucks (mostly)

Ben Goldacre, a science reporter for the Guardian, has written an interesting (if too short) article on why science journalism is lousy most of the time.

Gary Schwitzer used to be a journalist, but now he has turned to quantitative analyses of journalism, and this month he published an analysis of 500 health articles from mainstream media in the US. The results were dismal. Only 35% of stories were rated satisfactory for whether the journalist had “discussed the study methodology and the quality of the evidence”: because in the media, as you will have noticed, science is about absolute truth statements from arbitrary authority figures in white coats, rather than clear descriptions of studies and the reasons why people draw conclusions from them. Continue reading Science Journalism Sucks (mostly)

International History of Science Congress in Budapest

BudapestIt has been announced that the XXIIIrd Congress of History of Science and Technology will be held July 26-31, 2009 in Budapest, Hungary. The theme of the conference will be “Ideas and Instruments in Social Context.” The website for the conference can be found here. The full announcement from the Congress Secretariat can be found below. Continue reading International History of Science Congress in Budapest

Proust was a neuroscientist?

Jonah LehrerAs if to build on our recent discussions of clashing historiographic sensibilities (see part 1, 2 & 3), All in the Mind recently turned its attention to Jonah Lehrer‘s book: Proust was a Neuroscientist. (Get the MP3 of his interview here.)

Lehrer’s basic argument is simple: artists have often anticipated aspects of brain science that bench scientists are only now beginning to understand.

Using similar terms, Publishers Weekly described it thus:

Lehrer explores the oft-overlooked places in literary history where novelists, poets and the occasional cookbook writer predicted scientific breakthroughs with their artistic insights. The 25-year-old Columbia graduate draws from his diverse background in lab work, science writing and fine cuisine to explain how Cézanne anticipated breakthroughs in the understanding of human sight, how Walt Whitman intuited the biological basis of thoughts and, in the title essay, how Proust penetrated the mysteries of memory by immersing himself in childhood recollections.

But can Proust, or any of the other artists he names, really be considered a neuroscientist? (In other words, should historians of neuroscience include these characters in the disciplinary lineage?) No, said Lehrer in his interview on All in the Mind. Continue reading Proust was a neuroscientist?