Opinion

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.

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.

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.

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.

On the Benefits of Biodiversity

I could say that biodiversity should be saved for its beauty alone. I could discuss the intricate connections between food webs around the world and explain how removing key elements will ultimately affect all life on this planet. But there are even more pragmatic reasons for saving biodiversity.

Don’t Save Mallows Bay

It was easy for me, out on the water, to surrender to the romance of this maritime graveyard. I am both an ecologist and an environmentalist. I value historic places. But from afar, tough questions nagged at me, including this one: Is this place really valuable enough for federal protection?

[Don’t] [Do] [Maybe] Drink the Water

In the absence of national action, millions of Americans will continue to be harmed by their drinking water in their homes. This harm can be prevented, but it requires both federal action, and for authorities everywhere to be better prepared to deal with problems quickly and scientifically.

Trial and Error

It’s little wonder, given tragic episodes in France and Britain, that many consumers are suspicious of clinical trials, in which human beings serve as guinea pigs for companies with a profit motive. More regulation is surely needed, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

The Climate Denialist’s Ruse

Much of contemporary science has accumulated into a deep understanding of the natural world that is inconvenient for the leading Republican candidates for president. Willed ignorance is a disaster for climate policy, and it is worse as an approach to science in the public sphere. 

Flying Blind Into a Storm of Resistance

While bacteria have evolved to be increasingly resistant to antibiotics, the hit-or-miss way doctors prescribe them has largely remained the same. This educated guessing-game contributes to 100,000 U.S. deaths from hospital-acquired infections every year, many of which could be prevented by adopting more advanced testing techniques.

Know This First: Risk Perception Is Always Irrational.

We can’t make risk perception perfectly rational. We can’t intellectually overpower the emotions that our subconscious cognitive system relies on. We can, however, start to close the risk perception gap and minimize its dangers by applying what we’ve learned about why it occurs.

The Replication Crisis Is My Crisis

Sometimes I wonder if I should be fixing myself more to drink. You see, I am a social psychologist by training — a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto — and my chosen profession is coming unglued.

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