Life as an Extreme Sport

Socializing Girls Away from STEM

Sometimes, I wonder if the problem with STEM and girls and their interest isn’t that we devalue STEM to girls, but that we devalue girls and their interests. In October 2015, EDF’s Pretty Curious campaign drew a lot of ire from scientists (mostly women), both for the name and for the content of the promotional material. You see, one of the people involved was a cosmetics scientist. I found the outrage over the name to be a bit baffling, because while I admit I really wished to be called pretty when I was a kid, I was called pretty curious all the time (and I suspect those who’ve worked with me can attest this much is still true; I’m insatiably curious about the world). I don’t hear a slur or a gendered put-down in that; instead, I actually hear the kind of language people are encouraged to use when discussing

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Inclusion is the Core of My “Radical” Feminist Agenda

I’m tall, I’m a natural blonde, and I have green eyes. I’m also anywhere from “pleasantly plump” to “obese whale” depending on your scale of things, and I’m invisibly disabled. Needless to say, I receive a lot of comments about my body, both directly and indirectly, on a daily basis, and am frequently reminded of how I am–or am not–valued on the basis of what my body looks like and what it can or cannot do. I “should” be thinner, healthier, ignore the people who think I should be thinner, healthier; I “should” embrace who I am, change who I am, be a ‘better’ version of who I am, achieve health at any size-the list goes on, and on, and it often seems and feels like everyone has, and feels comfortable, voicing their opinion on what my body should look like and be capable of. Would there be any less

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Paternalism, Procedure, Precedent: The Ethics of Using Unproven Therapies in an Ebola Outbreak

The WHO medical ethics panel convened Monday to discuss the ethics of using experimental treatments for Ebola in West African nations affected by the disease. I am relieved to note that this morning they released their unanimous recommendation: “it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.” There are, of course, the common caveats about ethical criteria guiding the interventions, but ultimately the recommendation has saved me from a tortured “WHO’s on first”-style commentary.[note]For other commentary on the committee composition, see Udo Schuklenk’s short, sweet, and to the point commentary; you can also read his reaction to their statement here.[/note] I’m sure we all appreciate that. But just because the WHO recommendation follows what I’ve been arguing for the last 10-odd days doesn’t mean that the argument is actually over. In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s

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Pre-Postshow, A Quick Explanation of Induction and Black Swans

Thanks so much to my guest, Dr. Janet Stemwedel, for chatting over a much-too-short hour about philosophy of science, science, knowledge generation, Commander Data and more. I’m having audio issues tonight with playback, so I’ll get a post-show recap with links up Thursday morning. Until then, here’s a link to Janet’s website, and a link to the recording of the show. …so why is there a picture of a black swan illustrating this? It’s a phrase I used when Janet and I were talking about Karl Popper, deduction, and induction. I hand-waved at the black swan philosophical problem, which is a problem of induction that illustrates the role both our ignorance about what we don’t know and our own biases play in shaping the questions that we ask and the answers we assume are right. The concept of a black swan is old (Juvenal references one), but until 1697, European

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Virtually Speaking Science: Science, Philosophy and STEM

Tonight on Virtually Speaking Science, I’ll be talking to Dr. Janet Stemwedel about the role of philosophy in science, philosophy of science, STEM, and knowing us, probably ethics and values and so forth. The conversation topic was sparked by the recent Neil deGrasse Tyson comments on philosophy and science; my response to that can be seen here. Tweet questions ahead of time to me or my producer, Sherry Reson, or ask during the show with the hashtag #AskVS. Join us! 5pm PT/8pm ET.

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