Looking back at the Baltimore case

I mentioned the Baltimore affair in the previous post about scientific fraud. Here’s a review of Daniel Kevles’ definitive book about the case. I don’t usually mention where these things appeared, but it’s relevant here as its publication, in Nature, drew a comment from the author. He says I miss a point about the historical […]

Cooking the lab books

The focus of concern about scientific standards seems to have shifted a bit since this piece on scientific fraud was written. There have been some more very high profile cases (still mainly in life sciences), but there’s more attention now to things like poor statistical analysis (many disciplines), and to results that can’t be replicated […]

“The problem in biology is how you make an organism” – Paul Nurse

This one still seems relevant because Paul Nurse – now Sir Paul, a Nobel award, Presidency of the Royal Society, and other notable jobs later – is still a power in the land, scientifically, as head of the huge (and risky) Crick Institute in London. This profile of him was done before any of that […]

Unpacking “Nature”

The idea that boundaries between nature and culture have dissolved is pretty commonplace nowadays, as we contemplate the Anthropocene. But it’s been developing for some time, as this review from the 1990s indicates. I am, in hindsight, amused by the casual reference here to the “boring old futures studies of the 1960s” – my later book, […]

Service resumed…

I’m not given to New Year resolutions, but I do intend to reactivate this blog for 2016. Posting dwindled in 2014 when I was intent on finishing a book, and somehow didn’t get going again afterwards. However, there is still a big archive of writing to draw on, some of which – sifting the carrier […]

Natural philosophy now – possible or necessary?

Some thoughts prompted by my reading of Unger and Smolin‘s critique and prospectus aimed at contemporary cosmology. What, I wonder, is the effect of this sort of thing? And would we like more of it, as a contribution to science criticism? Authors tend to find critics pigeonholing their work irksome, so perhaps something interesting is […]