Essays & Opinion

We Need to Study Weed

We need to be studying cannabis, its myriad cultivated strains, and their effects on a variety of medical conditions. We also need to examine public health and policy implications. In short, we need to be doing research — but because of federal restrictions, it’s nearly impossible to do in this country.

The Last Word

We love stories about dying languages and their last speakers for the same reasons that we love stories about the last buffalo, the last passenger pigeon, or the last cowboy: They confirm an evolutionary story we tell ourselves about what’s fit for the modern world, and what’s unsuited for the times.

The Problem of the Lazy Brain

A host of recent research suggests that, at one time or another, we are all susceptible to being duped. The science also helps to explain why the late American novelist and Nobel laureate, William Faulkner, was spot-on when he observed that “Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.”

Just Warming Up

Scientists say the stakes for climate research have never been higher. But by questioning employees of the Department of Energy and installing climate skeptics and fossil fuel executives to lead the EPA and serve as Secretary of State, Donald Trump’s administration is gearing up to rally against it.

This Price Is Not Right

The head of the Department of Health and Human Services has a moral responsibility to care for all people. Based on his track record, U.S. Rep. Tom Price — an orthopedic surgeon himself, as well as a Christian — seems poised to make basic health care more difficult for millions of women and children.

Education and Automation: Tools for Navigating a Sea of Fake News

“Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him,” Ernest Hemingway once said. “It also should have a manual drill and a crank handle in case the machine breaks down.” Fifty years later, the need is greater than ever. Can software tools help when all else fails?

Trump and the Social Psychology of Prejudice

Social and psychological research suggests that individual expressions of prejudice depend highly on perceived social norms. After a bitter campaign in which Donald Trump disparaged numerous social and ethnic groups, his ascension to the White House has almost certainly shifted those norms.

Unsung: William Claytor

Largely unknown to the broader public, William Claytor — only the third African American to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics — typifies both the importance of peer mentoring in advancing the careers of people of color, and the tragic legacy of institutional racism that no amount of mentoring could overcome.

Warning: This Lab May Cause Injury or Death

Many of the hundreds of thousands of aspiring and early-career scientists — students, postdocs, and technicians — who labor in the labs, shops, and field stations of the nation’s universities appear to spend their days in an environment plagued by risks that are well known, yet uncorrected.

NASW Has Changed. Its Leadership Policy Should Too.

This weekend, members of the National Association of Science Writers will confront a fundamental question: Are we, in fact, a national association of science writers, as our name and diverse membership imply, or are we a national association of science journalists, as many among our ranks suggest?

Up for Grabs

Donald Trump has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted women. But his recorded boasts about grabbing them — along with his response and that of his supporters to criticisms of such behavior — confirms research suggesting a profound lack of consensus in our culture about what sexual assault looks like.

Flying In, Flying Away

Melting ice means that bird species of the North Atlantic and North Pacific — separated for millennia by a frozen sea too large and bereft of food to cross — now have a passage between oceans. Their migrations suggest unprecedented shifts in the native ecosystem of the Chukchi Sea, and the globe.

Europe’s Flawed Race for Scientific Research Funding

The European Research Council’s stated mission is to encourage “the risky venture” of frontier research by supporting “investigator-driven” approaches through competitive funding. In reality, the organization’s grant approval process favors well-known institutions and less than-groundbreaking research .