UNICEF and friends VS the outspoken Anti-vaxxers

Alison Campbell Mar 07, 2018

Back in mid-February, UNICEF NZ posted a piece on the importance of vaccines. Shortly thereafter, the comments thread had been overrun by anti-vaccination pro-disease activists. (I have to say, I’m really impressed with the person who does UNICEF’s social media. Talk about grace and dignity under fire!) This seems to happen every time a story about vaccine-preventable disease hits the … Read More

What are the challenges for First-Year Core Science Courses?

Alison Campbell Feb 28, 2018

Professor Karen Burke da Silva was the keynote speaker at Day 1 of the 2017 First-Year Science Educators’ Colloquium, held in Wellington. Her topic: Transforming large first year science classes: A comprehensive approach to student engagement. Currently at Flinders University, she’s been instrumental in setting up an ‘integrated teaching environment’ that’s seen a drop in withdrawals, and a marked … Read More

Poor little Pangolins – Driven headlong to extinction by human greed and stupidity

Alison Campbell Feb 20, 2018

Pangolins are strange little creatures, with their diet of ants and termites, and the entire outer surface of their bodies covered with armour-like scales (face, belly and the inner surfaces of the limbs are either hairy or naked). When in danger, pangolins are able to roll up in a ball, presenting only that armoured surface to a predator. Actually, … Read More

The MMS zombie rises to shamble once more…

Alison Campbell Feb 20, 2018

I’ve written about MMS – the “Miracle Mineral Supplement” – several times beforeA (here and here, for example). I guess it’s a useful thing to hold up to show how something can clearly be woo – eg claims that it kills/cures practically everythingB under the sun – and yet people still buy the stuff. Buy it, and potentially … Read More

Engagement and Experiences in Undergraduate Science Education

Alison Campbell Feb 14, 2018

At FYSEC2017, Gerry Rayner led a session called “Undergraduate science education in the 21st century: issues, needs, opportunities”. Gerry kicked off by commenting that education has a greater impact – on students, teachers, and the wider society in which education systems are embedded – when people work together across a range of disciplines. What are the issues currently … Read More

Is it a shrimp? Is it a prawn? No – it’s Super Crayfish!

Alison Campbell Feb 12, 2018

Polyploidy – the duplication of chromosome sets – is relatively common in plants, and can result in the development of new species. (Many modern food crops are polyploids.) It’s much less common in animals, although found in some frogs and salamanders (amphibians) and leeches (annelids). So it was with a mix of excitement, surprise, and alarm that … Read More

The Immortal Life of a Hydra

Jean Balchin Feb 09, 2018

Students often get to look at hydras – tiny, fresh-water members of the group that includes sea anemones, jellyfish, corals, and the Portuguese man’o’war. All these cnidarians have a simple body-plan: two layers of true tissue with a jelly-like layer between them, a sac-like gut with a single opening that acts as both mouth and anus, and the characteristic stinging cells –  … Read More

No, we have no GM tomatoes

Alison Campbell Feb 08, 2018

No sooner have I written a post about the synergy between FB and blogging then it happens again 🙂 Again, hat-tip to Yvette d’Entremont, who posted a link to an article purporting to tell consumers how to distinguish between GM and ‘regular’ tomatoes. The writer of that article certainly wears their heart on their sleeve – just look … Read More

Does science blogging still matter? Yes. Yes, it does.

Alison Campbell Feb 07, 2018

That’s the premise of an article in Nature (Brown & Woolston, 2018), which I discovered via the excellent Debunking Denialism on Facebook (and if that’s not a good example of how various social media are interlinked, I don’t know what is). Since mine is a science blog, obviously I was interested in the Nature narrative. Brown & Woolston believe … Read More


Dogs, Diets and the Impact of Evolution

Alison Campbell Feb 05, 2018

Yvonne d’Entremont (aka SciBabe) recently posted an article on ‘alternative’ foods and health products for pets, in her usual no-holds-barred style. It’s always good to see pseudoscience called out for what it is, and in the case of pet-focused quackery it’s a message that needs multiple repeats. Why? Because pets are dependent on us, & we have a responsibility … Read More