#Science Quotable: Todd Pittinsky – America lacks faith in science #Scicomm

Fifty-three percent of Americans are not convinced that human activity is causing global warming (1). Why? The issue is faith, not facts.

We cannot see climate change with our own eyes, yet we (scientists) have faith in the scientific method. That is what gives science the right to an authoritative voice in public policy.

The real challenge for scientists and those who speak for them is to inspire the public’s faith in science.

Scientists do not typically think it is their business to inspire faith. Their job is to provide facts. But to solve the pressing problems that require public acceptance of well-established science—from global warming to vaccinations to the increasing overuse of antibiotics—scientists must indeed inspire more public faith in their methods and their mutually enforced trustworthiness.

– Selected quotes from a great letter in Science Magazine by Todd L. Pittinsky (America’s crisis of faith in science)

Pittinsky gives a terrific perspective on faith in science and the scientific method, including specific examples of how to inspire faith in science! While a part of me cringes at the use of faith and science in a single sentence, in this case I have been convinced! Check out the full letter here!!!

NOTE: Disappointing to see Pittinsky use ‘global warming’ instead of climate change… womp womp. Guess he isn’t a follower of Bill Nye.

#Science Quotable: AAAS CEO Rush D. Holt


To thrive, science needs the support of the society it serves, and that support must be cultivated. In 1848, a forward-looking group of scientists and advocates formed the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to promote cooperation across various scientific and technical fields and create an encouraging environment for the practice of science.

Today, however, in many places the appreciation, respect, and support for science need attention and renewal. Even as the practice of science becomes ever more advanced, the observations more precise, and the applications more prevalent, there are signs of public misapprehension, distrust, and eroding support. Who better to address this looming problem than AAAS? AAAS should remain the force for science.

-AAAS CEO Rush D. Holt in a Science editorial, “Why Science? Why AAAS?” – More at the link

Previous CauseScience posts on Rush D. Holt and AAAS

What is something that doesn’t exist that would make you a better scientist? AAAS wants to know what you want in your scientist toolbox!!

Do you have an idea for a nonexistent invention that you would use for science? OR that would make you a more effective scientist? Share your idea in this NextGen VOICES survey from AAAS.

Name and describe a currently nonexistent invention that would make you a more effective scientist.

Your invention can be realistic, futuristic, or comical, and it can aid you in any aspect of your scientific process or career.

To submit, go to http://scim.ag/NG_14

Deadline for submissions is 13 February. A selection of the best responses will be published in the 3 April 2015 issue of Science. Submissions should be 100 words or less. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.

@ScienceMagazine publishes the first #science reports from @ESA_Rosetta Mission about Comet 67P!!!


Science has a special issue this week with the first published data from the ESA Rosetta mission! Check out the introduction to the special issue with a great synopsis of the papers and the Rosetta mission science completed thus far. The rest of the reports and articles can be found here.

Rosetta is uniquely positioned to further the understanding of these primitive bodies, having revealed an unusual and fascinating object. After rendezvous, the Rosetta spacecraft moved from 100 km above the comet to a bound orbit only ~10 km away. This early period of the mission has revealed previously unseen details of a comet nucleus, as Rosetta’s instruments recorded measurements that were once impossible. This issue of Science contains the first published scientific results from Rosetta at comet 67P.

See all the previous CauseScience posts on ESA’s Rosetta Mission and Philae Lander here!

Those people paying close attention may recognize the first author on the introduction, Matt Taylor, who caused quite a stir during the Philae landing.

Do disparities in scientific training between institutions need to be equalized? Take the CauseScience poll


Paul C. Jordan has written a letter to Science Magazine, “Give young scientists a level playing field.” Jordan’s main point in the letter is that scientists trained across the US at different institutions have widely different career training and opportunities. Jordan suggests that these differences are due to disparities in funding between different institutions.

For example, industrial scientists may regularly present research and recruit at high-level institutions because a funded seminar series exists. Meanwhile, Ph.D. students at other institutions may never see an industrial scientist on their campus over an entire doctoral degree.

And with funding rates continually decreasing, this disparity is only becoming worse. Jordan proposes that funding agencies should develop a strategic plan for development of young scientists at all institutions, including creation of a steering committee and structured goals in order to ‘level the playing field’. What do you think??

Problems with reproducibility in science? Here are the NIH proposed principles and guidelines to fix it! #science


In June, the National Institutes of Health, Nature, and Science convened a meeting with editors from over 40 top academic science journals to address problems of reproducibility in preclinical research reported in these journals. The result of this meeting is the “Proposed Principles and Guidelines for Reporting Preclinical Research,” now available on the NIH website.

The principles and guidelines include:

1. Rigorous Statistical Analysis

2. Transparency in Reporting (based on this paper)

3. Data and Material Sharing

4. Consideration of Refutations

5. Consider establishing best practice guidelines for image based data and description of biological reagents

Below is the intro for the proposal, defining who it applies to etc.

The signatories represent journals that publish preclinical biological research — an area of research that encompasses both exploratory studies and hypothesis-testing studies, with many different designs. The reproducibility of these studies is expected to vary. The journals agree to adhere to the following principles with the aim of facilitating the interpretation and repetition of experiments as they have been conducted in the published study. These measures and principles do not obviate the need for replication and reproduction in subsequent investigations to establish the robustness of published results across multiple biological systems.

It is great to see action happening on this front, especially action that appears to be so united~!

#Science Quotable: Timothy Gardner on reproducibility in research

Achieving reproducible research—research we can trust and build on efficiently, like high-quality parts in a supply chain—will take a collective movement to change the incentives, culture, and tool sets of science. The good news is that movement has begun. Publishers, funders, foundations, universities, regulators, and companies are raising visibility, developing standards, and creating tools and incentives that make reproducible research more accessible and more rewarding.

It is often said that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. Step one…check. The scientific community is aware and taking action.

Timothy Gardner in a Science editorial about reproducible research