Higher EducationScience

Selling and Promoting Alternative Medicine Around Campus

There is a lot that is wrong in the world today, and this is far from the worst problem. But it has been bugging me for several months now: my old university sells homeopathic medicine in its drugstore. Most readers of the Skepchick Network will know what homeopathy is, but …


An Analogy for Science

I’m planning a series of posts on evaluating sources, especially after the recent Stanford study, but this aspect is a bit adjacent so I’ll write about it separately. In Korea, students have to focus on either sciences or humanities from high school onwards. I teach at a humanities-focused school, and …


The Atomic Priesthood and Other Opportunities for Cross-Campus Collaboration

Last month, I wrote about how the Sokal hoax was an opportunity for humanists and scientists to cross campus and start working together, and that one of the fruits of this collaboration is the relatively new field of ecocriticism. Peter C. van Wyck’s book Signs of Danger: Waste, Trauma, and …

The cover of issue 127 of the journal Social Text
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Evaluating the Sokal Hoax Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago, in May 1996 (okay, twenty years and four months—sue me), Alan Sokal, a physicist at with appointments at the University College London and New York University, published a ground-breaking paper in the respected critical theory journal Social Text. The paper has been highly influential. I learned about …

Critical ThinkingCultureInformal EducationPoliticsReligionScience

What Pramaoedya Ananta Toer Tried to Teach His Kids About Medicine and Critical Thinking

Pramaoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) was an award-winning Indonesian writer who was famous for the novels that he wrote during two long stints as a political prisoner. He was first jailed by the Dutch in 1947 for his anti-colonial activities, and then again by President Suharto for being a leftist from …


Tim Hunt and the crying scientist.

I’m late to the party of, “Is Tim Hunt an ass or just really bad at trying to be funny?” I’m not sure there really is a difference there and I’m not trying to parse it anyway. The one part of the affair that has bugged me is the “women …

Higher EducationScience

Are English-only PhDs in the Sciences a Problem?

Following the general rule of headlines-posed-as-questions, you can probably guess my answer already: probably not. That said, this recent cri du cœur (ha!) in Vitae deserves a bit more attention than just one sentence, so I’d like to flesh out that ‘probably not’ with a more thorough look at the principal questions raised …

Critical ThinkingEducationPrimary EducationScience

Tackling Science Project Turmoil

Science Fairs can sometimes get a bad rap. As a recent viral image illustrates, these school projects are often met with dread by students, families, and yes – even teachers. But I’d like to propose that science projects – done properly – are a valuable tool in teaching children how …

Melody Torcolacci file photo
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Anti-vax “prof” ignites scandal at Queen’s U

This week the Principal and Provost of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario publicly acknowledged student complaints that an instructor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies was promoting anti-vaccine materials in a basic health class. The instructor in question, Melody Torcolacci, is reported to have presented her Health 102 class …

Critical ThinkingCultureEducationScience

Communicating science

This morning, the main site’s quickies had a link to how science stories are often illustrated with some attention grabbers that misrepresent the actual content of the study being described.  This reminded me of an incident when a new faculty member in our Communication department was introducing herself to the …