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IT Savvy, But Stupid

Twitter screen

In the age of information it seems we would be better off with more wisdom and a little less information.

By Edward H. Spence

In an age of information abundance there is a deficit of wisdom.

Edward H. Spence is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Ethics at Charles Sturt University’s School of Communication and Creative Industries.

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How Effective Is Science Outreach?

School science experiment

The real aim of the IYC is to “increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry, increase young people’s interest in science, and generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry”.

By Ian Rae

Will the International Year of Chemistry successfully promote science to the community?

Ian Rae is a thoughtful skeptic and former RACI President.

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The Case for Gene Patents

By Michael Gilbert

Patents are an essential incentive for investment in research.

The very word “cancer” incites feelings of fear and dread. Most of us do not understand where it comes from or why, the treatments seem unreliable and the outcomes are often miserable.

Some cancer researchers are supporting moves to ban gene patents because they are worried that access to critical information and materials will be stifled. They use emotive case studies to argue that somehow gene patents are inhibiting progress in curing patients.

The X-Factor in the Productivity Equation

By Anna-Maria Arabia

The progress of women in science and technology has stalled for the past 15 years.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants a higher participation economy because it is a driver of prosperity, a sustainer of growth and a giver of hope and purpose to the community. She also wants an economy with a new generation of Australian entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors.

But Australian governments and industry are failing to take advantage of a key piece of the participation and productivity jigsaw that is sitting right under their nose – women. I know, because I’m a woman who left science for 8 years.

The National Science Curriculum: Not Yet!

By Professor John Rice

The draft science curriculum scores a “fail, more work needed” from the Deans of Science.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has been developing a national K–12 curriculum for more than 18 months. It is currently discussing a draft of a K–10 science curriculum with state and territory education authorities.

Good Science Done Properly

Sackett

Professor Penny Sackett is Chief Scientist for Australia.

By Penny Sackett

Scientists have a social responsibility to maintain high ethical standards in their work.

Professor Penny Sackett is Chief Scientist for Australia.

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The Aristotle Swan Test

By Paul Waring

Students from school to university should be learning the essential skills of critical thinking.

Isaac Asimov once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. He had alien civilisations in mind, but what of the many Australians who cannot tell the difference between magic and science?

As scientists we are continually implored to communicate our results. For instance, Science Minister Kim Carr recently appealed to scientists to engage more with the public in the global warming debate. But if the public possesses no tools to assess the scientific claims being made, are scientists just wasting their time?

The Hazards of Synthesis

Image of Richard Eckersley

Richard Eckersley’s review paper was rejected by The Lancet for “self-plagiarism”.

By Richard Eckersley

Synthesis of knowledge from different disciplines is underused in research and has hazards for practitioners.

Last year I sent The Lancet a wide-ranging paper urging the need to rethink the science and politics of population health. The journal rejected the paper on the grounds of “self-plagiarism” and reported me to my university, the Australian National University. The ANU investigated and rejected the charge, saying I had not breached the Australian or ANU codes on responsible research.

Homeopathy Costs Us All

Homeopathy image

Natrum muriaticum is homeopathic salt.

By Ken Harvey

There is no evidence for homeopathy yet medical insurance companies – subsidised by the government – are extending their cover due to client demand, and health authorities lack the power to act on misleading claims.

Homeopathy has been in the news of late. Earlier this year, a homeopath and his wife were found guilty of manslaughter after their baby daughter died when they treated her severe eczema with homeopathic remedies rather than conventional medicines.

Deadly Concerns Over Herbal Medicines

image of Professor Roger Byard

Professor Roger Byard, Photo: The University of Adelaide

By Roger W. Byard

Just how safe are herbal medicines, and how well are we evaluating their possible contribution to illness and death?

While there is no doubt that some pharmaceutical drugs carry significant risks of morbidity and sometimes mortality, a recent review of traditional herbal medicines has shown that “natural” does not always equate with “safe”. Published in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Journal ofForensic Sciences, my review dealt withpotentially harmful effects and interactionsof herbal medicines that had been published in the international scientificliterature.