Science and Society

Seven Earth-sized planets discovered orbiting a nearby star - Guest Work

Guest Work Feb 23, 2017

By Jonti Horner, University of Southern Queensland An international team of astronomers has found that a nearby star is accompanied by a swarm of at least seven small, rocky worlds. One of the eyecatching claims in the work, published today in Nature, is that in the appropriate circumstances, there is a chance that any (or all) the … Read More

Picking zones and picking winners - The Dismal Science

Eric Crampton Feb 22, 2017

The push for more localist approaches to policy problems in New Zealand continues to gather steam. Earlier this month, the McGuinness Institute argued for what they’re calling Demarcation Zones for policy trials. Their formulation differs a bit from what we at the Initiative proposed in 2015, but the core idea is similar: let local communities take on additional … Read More

Debunking a “classic” fluoride-IQ paper by leading anti-fluoride propagandists - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Feb 21, 2017

Three of the paper’s authors – Quanyong Xiang (1st Left), Paul Connett (2nd Left) and Bill Hirzy (far right) – preparing to bother the EPA. Anti-fluoride groups and “natural”/alternative health groups and websites are currently promoting a new paper by several leading anti-fluoride propagandists. For two reasons: It’s about fluoride and IQ. The anti-fluoride movement recently decided to give priority to this issue … Read More

Was the Gardasil vaccine ever compared with a placebo? - Diplomatic Immunity

Helen Petousis Harris Feb 20, 2017

Gardasil was assessed in Double Blind Randomised Placebo Controlled Trials that used the fully formulated vaccine and compared it with two different placebos, the aluminium adjuvant and a saline solution. What is a placebo? A placebo is a substance as similar as possible to the active drug except it has no therapeutic effect. It does not … Read More

Are experts really being ignored? - The Dismal Science

Michael Reddell Feb 20, 2017

A few months ago, I wrote a post on the role of “experts”, responding to a British journalist and author’s lament for the apparent willlingness of voters/societies to downplay, or even dismiss, the role of experts when it comes to making significant public policy decisions. In his column in yesterday’s Sunday Star-Times, local economist Shamubeel Eaqub returns to … Read More

New Zealand science looks to the future – Sciblogs Horizon Scan - News

John Kerr Feb 20, 2017

Pandemics, predators and predicting sea-level rise are just a few of the issues covered in our Sciblogs Horizon Scan special series. We asked experts across the spectrum of New Zealand science to give us their take on the big issues in their field and what might be around the corner. What does the future hold in store for New Zealand … Read More

Islamophobia or mental illness? - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Feb 16, 2017

Mental illness is far more widespread than we often wish to admit. In fact, it is probably worth considering it a normal part of life – like the occasional cold or other ailments we all get. But occasionally mental illness can be more debilitating – even embarrassing. Does any family not have a member who sometimes embarrasses them by behaving inappropriately? … Read More