Posts tagged ‘politics’

So it seems that we should expect full genome sequences to be quite cheap within the next several years, if this trend is anything to go by. I think it’s time to start thinking about what effect this might have on health insurance.

Is a genetic disposition toward risk or alcoholism or cancer a pre-existing condition? Should it be treated as such? For what might a sequence be legally requested?

As far as things like personal medicine and gene therapy and the like go, the rapid decrease in sequencing cost is a big step forward. It also exposes an extremely private part of us, one that we shouldn’t want to be disseminated to government or corporations without a clear set of rules.


He is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology.

Bill Nye

He’s discussing Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), who is known for two things:

  1. Asserting that evolution and the Big Bang theory are “all lies straight from the pit of Hell.”
  2. Serving on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Can’t change #1, but I think we should change #2.

(via jtotheizzoe)




Zen Pencils Comics: 33. EDGAR MITCHELL: A global consciousness

Fuckin look. That’s what you’re screwing up.


This just in: rogue astronaut kidnaps world leaders, forces them to moon where they suffocate. Backlash against science expected to lead to a new dark age.

But really, an awesome comic. 😉


Why save PBS

Now I know this picture has made the rounds before, but Rep. Broun (R-GA) spoke at a function the other day. The video quotes him as saying:

All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. 

You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

This is a man on the House Committee on Science and Technology denying the key tenant of biology. Then he goes on to say that he is a scientist and he has deduced the age of Earth to be 9,000 years old.

There are so many things wrong with those two sentences, and he is only one of a number of the committee’s members that holds similarly incorrect views. Which is not only bad for science- and research-based legislation, but it means that every 2 years they are being re-elected.

The answer is to vote them out and replace them with pro-science representatives. Make sure they are held responsible for what they say, and help make our political atmosphere a little more factually-based. 

How Science Explains America’s Great Moral Divide

Link: How Science Explains America’s Great Moral Divide


From a longer interview at Scientific American, Jonathan Haidt offers this explanation of how modern human culture, especially American moral/political culture, is the result of our unique evolutionary path, part bee and part primate:

For the last half of the 20th century, the dominant idea in the social sciences was that people are selfish. Economists thought that people were only out to maximize their self-interest, political scientists believed that people voted entirely for their self-interest, and biologists told us that we were driven by selfish genes, which make us generous only when it will help our kin or our reputations. Self interest is of course a very powerful force, yet it leaves out our deep and passionate desires to be part of a group, to lose ourselves in something larger than ourselves. It leaves out so much of the psychology of religion and self-transcendence.
This is why I say that one of the basic principles of moral psychology is that we are 90 percent chimp and 10 percent bee. Most of our social nature is like that of other primates – we’re mostly out for ourselves. But because our evolution was shaped by a few hundred thousand years of intense group versus group conflict, we are also very groupish. We are descended from groups that had fine-tuned mental mechanisms and cultural rituals for binding themselves together into communities able to work together, suppress free riders, and achieve common ends. When we do these things we are more analogous to bees than to chimps. But for us, it’s just temporary. We have brief collective moments, and we can do great things together in those moments, but eventually, self-interest returns.

A fine explanation of that conflict that seems to be at the heart of so much political tension: Is this about me, or about us?



A Science Report Card

A candidate’s record and stance on “science issues” is but one head on the hydra that is the political campaign season. But for science-centered folks like us, it’s one of the most important tests of a candidate’s qualifications. Because we know how important science education and investment is to the cultural and economic health of our nation.

How has President Obama fared in his first term as a President for Science? The Scientist took a look, and scored Obama’s Science Report Card. There’s many reasons to be satisfied, and many areas left to improve. But most analysts agree that he has been leaps and bounds beyond his predecessor, and offers far better plans for science than his challengers.

So while science may be only a small part of what differentiates these candidates, I’d argue that it’s a damn important one. Visit The Scientist to see how Obama scored.

Also don’t miss’s responses from the candidates on our biggest science issues

Disagree with any of the grades?