… but after one of last year's weekend Schol sessions, someone asked me how you get to be a uni lecturer/researcher ie what would you have to do to get there. And we talked about it a bit. And now I'm searching round for a blog topic & thought, you're all probably heading for some sort […]Continue reading
Tag: nature of science
weird & wacky… science?
Now that things are (sort of) winding down for the year, I thought I'd share some gems of pseudoscience with you. This is an ongoing interest of mine & I'm hoping that you'll apply your critical filters to what follows (& I'd be interested in your comments, too!)Continue reading
evolution & the nature of science
I like to teach my students here at Waikato something about how the theory of evolution was developed. OK, I'm interested in history anyway, but it's also a really good way to teach about the nature of science. You know; what is science, really? What does the word theory mean to a scientist? How's science done? Well, […]Continue reading
Evolution – micro, macro, what’s the difference?
You'e probably come across the terms 'microevolution' and 'macroevolution'. 'Microevolution' is generally taken to mean small-scale changes in a population's gene pool, while 'macroevolution' is evolutionary change at the level of species, or genus, or phylum. This distinction can cause problems with understanding…Continue reading
Ants, drugs & aphid slaves
I was browsing SciTech Daily Review (always a good source of breaking science stories) when this headline caught my eye: Ants drug their aphid slaves. What a tantalising title! It led me to a just-published article (T.H.Oliver et al. 2007) looking at how ants control the aphids that they 'farm'.Continue reading
Things to think about when reading a scientific paper
Sometimes I base these blogs on a scientific paper that's caught my eye. I'm hoping that sometimes you'll search out the original reference and read it for yourself. But when a paper is cited in support of an argument – how can you decide whether the contents stack up?Continue reading
Further food for thought
After I posted Food for thought?, I got a message from a student saying that she'd seen the study reported on the Documentary Channel. She thought the results looked good, but commented … it never stated if they had a control, possibly placebos, so that it can be assesed whether some of the children merely concentrated more […]Continue reading
Food for thought?
We hear a lot, these days, about eating healthy foods (& not too much of anything!). If you read the ads, and sometimes news items, you'll find some particular foods promoted as being particularly good for you. One of these is fish oil, rich in omega-3 oils and supposedly good for brain development, among other […]Continue reading
The improbability of an eye… (‘intelligent design’ part 2)
The camera-type eye of humans (& in fact all vertebrates) is often held up as a classic example of what ‘intelligent design’ (ID) proponents call irreducible complexity. The argument goes like this: a) the camera-type eye needs all its parts to function. b) It couldn’t possibly be assembled randomly as Darwinian theory claims. c) The […]Continue reading
“intelligent design” – science or philosophy?
At my scholarship preparation day yesterday I was asked if students could expect an exam question about evolution and intelligent design. My answer? No, because "intelligent design" is not a scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth. My reasons for saying this? Read on…Continue reading