Watching your back

Half a lifetime bent over peering into people’s mouths had left Martha Podleschak with spine problems. One of the job requirements for a dentist is a constant, slightly sideways forward tilt. According to her x-ray technician, Podleschak’s particular leftward lean had compressed the discs between her vertebrae, causing a pattern of extreme wear on the […]

The Last Word on The Science Writers’ Handbook

LWON is a group blog run semi-anarchically by 12 science writers. If you think that sounds like a recipe for chaos, just contemplate SciLance, an even more anarchic group of 35 science writers. Usually, SciLance is just a discussion group, so the chaos is relatively subdued. But last week, the writers of SciLance published their […]

Debunking Hollywood: Headshot

Last month, Erik took a hard look at a staple in Hollywood’s menu of plot devices: the knockout shot. Now we turn to a movie trope that hits a little closer to home. Our very own Sally needs your help in the investigation: Dear LWON readers, I’m a boxer with a problem: I can’t punch […]

The Last Word

April 1 – 5 On April Fools day, Jennie Dushek teased the internet with the obituary of a great dad. I wondered whether science has anything interesting to say about stupidity. Cassie examined the evidence from the anti-vax side of the aisle and found it wanting. Guest poster Michael Balter told us about the dinosaurs […]

I’m with stupid

What is stupidity? That’s the question I set out to answer this week for New Scientist. The idea was to look at the science of stupidity, but it took me a good couple of weeks to stop hitting brick walls in my research. Respectable scientists don’t like to talk about stupidity. “Stupidity is an evaluative […]

Valentine’s Day Tips from the Animal Kingdom

I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s day, but I love the ads. They are so utterly, transparently awful that they cross the line from crassly offensive into entertaining. Business Insider just did a brilliant roundup of the worst offenders of all time. They have a certain evolutionary-psychology simplicity to them — if you present […]

Secret Satans: Neuroscience

“Well, you know we only use about 10 per cent of our brain.” I don’t like when people tell me this. Someday, I hope to acquire the guts to issue the following rejoinder: “Which 10 per cent do you use?” But because I don’t like confrontation, I usually just make a face of mute disappointment […]

The Last Word

Dec. 17 – 21 Refereeing by a goal-line technology called — as Sally says, “(awesomely), Hawk Eye” — is outsourcing our judgment to a technology and its algorithms.  Is that going to work?  Given the history of human judgment, sure, why not. Here’s Guest Sujata Gupta with a story about macaques with SIV that get […]