Updates and Quick Links

I do have plans for a proper post soon but I was hoping to receive an email in connection with it. In the meantime here are a few little things to keep you occupied.

In August I described the violence in Burma that left 90 people dead and forced a further 100 000 from their homes. A few days ago I noticed the country was back in the news with another 22 000, mostly Muslims, displaced in fresh violence. Continue reading


The Nobel and Ig Nobel Prizes

Nobel Prize medal (Source: Wikipedia)

It seems almost pointless doing this post as no doubt those that have an interest in some of the topics here would already have heard about the Nobel Prizes, announced earlier this month, but, if not, I’ll be happy to fill you in.

In addition you might be interested in the Ig Nobel Prizes, the more light-hearted parody of the Nobel Prizes, which were announced
last month. The full list of winners of the Ig Nobel prizes is available here. Continue reading

Why the hate for foreigners?

I know of some possible explanations, such as they take our jobs, their culture clashes with ours or even just that they’re different and that makes us uncomfortable, but they don’t really sound very convincing. I read the news and get very depressed when I see the amount of racism and xenophobia that is out there and the way people react to it. Last week I read an article, and then followed a link to another one, describing South Africans’ attitudes to foreigners. The results were not encouraging.

The older survey, also a News24 article with a misleading headline, claims “Survey: Most okay with foreign spaza shops.” Despite what it suggests it’s wrong. It actually says 46% of South Africans are okay with foreigners having spaza shops, 44% are against it and 10% are undecided. 46% is more than 44% but it’s not “most” and it’s depressingly low for such a simple question. Continue reading

E&R’s first birthday!

On the 14th October 2011 I put my first blog post online. Now it’s one year later and this is my 100th post. It’s not a coincidence, I planned that way because it’s a nice round number. This is a chance for me to celebrate where I’ve come from, what I’ve achieved over the year and to highlight a few of my favourite posts.

I started reading blogs when I was doing my honours degree as a way to keep up with what was happening in science. I can’t remember exactly which blogs I started out on but I remember Pharyngula was one of them and, later, why Evolution Is True. They are still some of my favourite blogs, though I must say I much prefer WEIT. This was all after I’d started reading Dawkins, thanks to a professor in first year biology who mentioned the selfish gene during a lecture series on evolution. He didn’t agree with a gene-centred view of evolution but did recommend it for those that wanted to see a different perspective, and after reading it I couldn’t see how anyone could see a different view of evolution. Continue reading

Animals and death

Last week, when I was driving to university, I passed what appeared to be a dead guinea fowl on the side of the road with a live one investigating the corpse. The guinea fowl incident reminded me of the links I’d been storing up relating to whether animals understand death and mourn when those they know die. This was a topic I found first in a BBC story and then later when it was also mentioned on WEIT. Continue reading

That headline is just misleading and dishonest

I understand to get people to read an article you need a good headline but they should at least reflect the content of the story and be honest. I was rather dismayed when I foundthis headline pop up on my News24 Sci-Tech feed, “Fraud ‘rife’ in science research.” That sounds like a major problem. However I had read the story before, both in Science and Nature, and those titles were not nearly as dramatic, being “Misconduct, Not Mistakes, Causes Most Retractions of Scientific Papers” and “Misconduct is the main cause of life-sciences retractions” respectively. Continue reading