Redeeming art v. redeeming science

Lawrence Krauss giving a talk in July 2012.

Recently, someone shared the cover of a soon to be released book, entitled The Physics of Climate Change, authored by Lawrence M. Krauss and expressed excitement about the book's impending publication and the prospect of their reading it. I instinctively responded that I would be actively boycotting the book after the sexual harassment allegations against…

Clarity and soundness

I feel a lot of non-science editors just switch off when they read science stuff. A friend told me this earlier today, during yet another conversation about how many of the editorial issues that assail science and health journalism have become more pronounced during the pandemic (by dint of the pandemic being a science and…

Where is the coolest lab in the universe?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) performs an impressive feat every time it accelerates billions of protons to nearly the speed of light – and not in terms of the energy alone. For example, you release more energy when you clap your palms together once than the energy imparted to a proton accelerated by the LHC.…

Go easy on the dexamethasone hype

The people involved with the RECOVERY clinical trial have announced via statements to the press that they have found very encouraging results about the use of dexamethasone in people with severe COVID-19 who had to receive ventilator support. However, the study's data isn't available for independent verification yet. So irrespective of how pumped the trial's…

Journalistic entropy

A picture of chaos

Say you need to store a square image 1,000 pixels wide to a side with the smallest filesize (setting aside compression techniques). The image begins with the colour #009900 on the left side and, as you move towards the right, gradually blends into #1e1e1e on the rightmost edge. Two simple storage methods come to mind:…

The number of deaths averted

What are epidemiological models for? You can use models to inform policy and other decision-making. But you can't use them to manufacture a number that you can advertise in order to draw praise. That's what the government's excuse appears to be vis-à-vis the number of deaths averted by India's nationwide lockdown. When the government says…

The costs of correction

I was slightly disappointed to read a report in the New York Times this morning. Entitled 'Two Huge COVID-19 Studies Are Retracted After Scientists Sound Alarms', it discussed the implications of two large studies of COVID-19 recently being retracted by two leading medical journals they were published in, the New England Journal of Medicine and…

Why we need *some* borders between us

A woman slightly hidden from view, wearing a denim jacket, brushing her hand against a wooden facade in daylight.

Borders are often a bad thing because they create separation that is unconducive for what are generally considered to be socially desirable outcomes. And they're often instituted to maximise political outcomes, especially of the electoral variety. However, as electoral politics – and the decisions politicians make leading up to elections – become increasingly divisive, the…

Ocean-safe consumption

Just spotted this ad on the website of The Better India, a journalism website that focuses on "positive stories": India's nationwide lockdown has many important lessons – including the fact that it wasn't useful in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus through the Indian population; and though there's no way yet to tell if…

The virus and the government

In December 2014, public health researchers and activists gathered at a public forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to discuss how our perception of diseases and their causative pathogens influences our ideas of what we can and can't do to fight them. According to a report published in The Harvard Gazette: The forum prompted serious reflection about…