Science journalists are always announcing the results of the latest study. The more bizarre and controversial, the better. A recent study is, almost by definition, cutting-edge research — what better way to tap into the pulse of science? Except, the latest and greatest research is just as often wrong. The concern is not simply with hype. Rather, the problem is the “study.” As a unit of scientific research, it leaves much to be desired, and for those who are unfamiliar with the practices of the scientific community, how to interpret a lone study can be deeply confusing.
Scientific Methods and Techniques
The election is almost here and the election forecasters are in full swing. As of October 23rd, the Economist gives Biden a 92% chance of winning, and FiveThirtyEight has him winning 88 out of 100 “simulated” elections. How should we interpret these claims? If you have a coin and you flip it a thousand times, and it lands on heads 500 times and tails 500 times then you may infer it has a 50% probability of landing on heads and a 50% probability tails. Sounds simple, except, we’re not going to run this election thousands of times, we’re only going to run it once.
In late August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their provisional death counts page to indicate that COVID-19 was the sole cause of death listed on death certificates in only 6% of cases. This fact was interpreted by some as only 6% of reported fatalities, or around 10,000 people, actually died of… Read more »
The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 was brought about by two major media publications. In Sports Illustrated, Pepper, the Dalmatian, had disappeared from her family’s front yard, only to have been found at an east coast hospital and after having been euthanized, following an experimental medical research study involving an early model of a pacemaker. Pepper had been snatched from her owner’s front yard, and then sold for use in medical research, all without their knowledge…
Across many fields, scientific research involving humans has a dark history, and many studies conducted in the past are completely unethical both in their original contexts and now. In America, examples include the Tuskegee Study on syphilis, which ran for over 40 years, and Henrietta Lacks’ ovarian cancer cells which were used in scientific research for decades without her or her family’s knowledge…
Louis Pasteur once said, “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.” The act of doing science should not, and cannot, be confined to people in lab coats with multiple degrees squinting at computer screens and scribbling on whiteboards. Exploring the natural world around us should be something everyone can take part in, and that’s what citizen science is…
This post is from ScIU’s archives. It was originally published by Lana Ruck in February 2018 and has been lightly edited to reflect current events. Tomorrow will be the 134th official Groundhog Day in the United States. Celebrated in Canada, Germany, and the U.S., the holiday derives from a long-standing German-Dutch tradition, which we’ve been… Read more »
Programming skills are not only becoming more in demand in industry jobs, they’re also becoming a required skill in academia as well. Programming is now used in almost every discipline for tasks such as data collection, organization, and analysis. In this post, I’m going to demonstrate how some basic programming in Python can be used… Read more »
In the third part of this blog series, we will finish looking into human consciousness by thinking about what happens to it after death. If you have not seen the episodes, do not worry, spoilers are kept at a minimum! You can read parts 1 and 2 here. San Junipero is a virtual afterlife into… Read more »
In the second part of this blog series, we will look at three episodes where proposed technologies involve human consciousness. We will see if these technologies can become real possibilities in the near future. If you have not seen the episodes, do not worry, spoilers are kept at a minimum! You can also read part… Read more »