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Up and running 4 March, 2011

Posted by Simon Nickerson in Site news.

Welcome to my new blog! I’m going to be looking at controversies in science – areas where there are real disputes about how to interpret new discoveries, about whether experiments were done properly, or how to decide between competing theories.

I’m taking this approach because the ‘new discovery of the week’ view of science that is common in the media always strikes me as a being bit dry, and not representative of how science actually works. When you get into areas of controversy you usually see personality clashes, grudges, and other all-too-human behaviours; but sometimes this is a clue that something important is at stake, and that’s what I’m interested in.

The Martian meteorite ALH84001 got me started down this track, and I’ll keep an eye out for developments in that story. Some other controversial science stories that have caught my eye recently include NASA’s announcement in December about arsenic-based life, and research published in a mainstream science journal that suggests ESP might be real.

Just to get started, I’ll point you to Jonah Lehrer’s take on the ESP research here. The original paper, published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, can be found here.



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