If you didn’t catch the latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, be sure to do so. Summary here:
On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver debunked scientific studies that make outrageous claims. Oliver pointed to an example of an all too familiar subject of studies: Coffee. “In just the last few months, we’ve seen studies about coffee that claim it may reverse the effects of liver damage, help prevent colon cancer, decrease the risk of endometrial cancer, and increase the risk of miscarriage. Coffee today is like god in the old testament: It will either save you or kill you, depending on how much you believe in its magic powers.”
These studies can have serious consequences. Oliver explained that they are rarely replicated or fact checked, but that hasn’t stopped news organizations from actively reporting on the studies as truth. The contradictory nature of the these salacious studies can lead people to dismissing actual science that has been peer reviewed… like climate change.
There are always scientific experiments that haven’t yet been replicated or that are just waiting to be disproven. That is because science is a work in progress… we are always improving techniques, and learning more about subjects. I think the real problem lies with the media taking scientific evidence and portraying it as “fact” in order to boost viewership of the story. While scientists can always work harder to improve communication skills, this is a two-way street, and the media simply needs to do a better job of reporting on science.
The rapper showed off his hatred for science and “facts” recently, getting into an argument (and subsequent rap battle) with Neil deGrasse Tyson over the Earth being flat. Well, now the rapper’s point appears to have flat-lined after Tyson’s appearance on “The Nightly Show” on Wednesday.
The scientist responded to a B.o.B. diss by schooling the rapper on exactly why he’s wrong, making points about Calculus and B.o.B.’s “size” relative to Earth. (Yeah, dude went there.) But the best part came when Tyson gave us this gem:
“Isaac Newton, my man, said, ‘If I have seen farther than others, it’s by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Can I get an amen? So that’s right B.o.B. When you stand on the shoulders of those who came before, you might just see far enough to realize the Earth isn’t fucking flat!”
He added, “And, by the way, this is called gravity!”
The Onion pokes fun at current problems, and yesterday they posted an article about how “seeking funding” has become an official step in the scientific method, along with forming a hypothesis and conducting experiments. While satirical, this problem is ALL TOO REAL. We have discussed numerous times how lack of funding is impacting biomedical research in the US and worldwide, and obtaining funding has become a serious problem for researchers (and postdocs applying for fellowships- like me!). Check out the article:
1. Does music express emotions or just elicit them? Read the next 200 pages to not find out. – Welldogmycats
2. Girls take birth control. Girls then pee out unmetabolized estrogens from birth control. Pee goes to water treatment plant, estrogens not treated, male fish become female fish. – Altzul
3. Nanoparticles are weird and I accidentally made a bomb and electrocuted myself. -M33
4. People trying meditation for the first time get aroused. – PainMatrix
5. When I get rid of this gene, it messes the brain up. A lot. – NeuroscienceNerd
6. Computer AI systems can learn to operate a warp drive and automatically build an instructional system to train people how to do it. My dissertation is probably the only one in existence to reference the Star Trek technical manual. – DrBiometrics