Tagged: science

Harvard University Students Take a Stand Against Controverisal Dissertation

This week, Harvard University students are taking a stand against a controversial 2009 dissertation, “IQ and Immigration Policy,” which argues that Hispanics have lower IQs and develops contentious suggestions for U.S. immigration reform based on this assumption.  Jason Richwine, the author of the dissertation and currently a research contributor for The Heritage Foundation, ultimately recommends that U.S. immigration policy should be based on intelligence, excluding individuals with lower IQ scores and including individuals with higher scores. Though Richwine claims that...

Racism is on (in?) my mind…

  Last Wednesday, Cheryl posted an interesting analysis of the nature vs. nurture debate that has plagued the social and biological sciences since their emergence. More and more research, from both disciplinary areas, is accumulating to overturn this simplistic dichotomy. Rather than thinking of ourselves as purely determined by our body chemistry and structure OR by our social environment, it is useful to think of ourselves as what Donna Haraway terms “material-semiotic” entities—that is, as unique combinations of natural and...

Nature AND Nurture: Undermining Inequalities with Sociology and Biology

In the most recent issue of Sociology Compass, Lisa Wade contributed an article, “The New Science of Sex Difference,” about the relationship between biology and social identities and inequalities. The debate about socialization usually boils down to two seemingly opposed positions: nature versus nurture. Historically, biologists, and other fans of the life sciences, contended that natural forces in the body, like hormones, genes, and brains, determine the development of an individual. On the other hand, sociologists refute the claim that...

Girls Who Code: Gender, STEM, and the Importance of High School Intervention

Last fall, like any good teacher of the sociology of gender, I introduced my class to the patterns of gender bias in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). My students were not shocked by the observation that few women enter these fields in college. In fact, one of my students raised her hand and explained the bias first hand. She was a computer science major, enrolled in a computer science course held in the same lecture hall in the...

Gender, Sexuality, and the HPV Vaccine: Part 2

  In mid-October, I posted about a recent study that assesses the relationship between rates of sexual activity-related outcomes and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. The researchers found that injection of the vaccine is not associated with elevated rates of sexual activity-related outcomes in young girls, specifically pregnancy, contraceptive counseling, and sexually transmitted infection testing and diagnosis. While removing the stigma around the vaccine will help girls and women, I asked why the vaccine continues to be associated with women,...

Gender Bias in Mentoring Practices

In a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, a group of scholars reported on the continued gender discrimination in the hard sciences. The researchers asked 127 male and female professors in biology, chemistry, and physics to rate male and female job candidates for a position in their labs. The portfolios of the candidates were exactly the same, but half used the name, “Jennifer,” and the other half, “John.” The professors rated...

The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge: The New AAP Policy on Male Circumcision

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a revised policy statement regarding male circumcision. Unlike previous policies on the issue, this one got a lot of media attention, probably because male circumcision itself has been in the news more than usual. The past few years have seen increasing mobilization against male circumcision (for example, intactivists (the term activists fighting for genital integrity have given themselves) tried to ban the practice in the city of San Francisco last year, though...

The Potential of Epigenetics for Sociology

A careful understanding of epigenetic mechanisms allows sociologists to include a new biological perspective into research designs – when it is incorporated carefully and not used casually or blindly as a deus ex machina explanatory device that is. Epigenetics provides us with one of several “mechanisms by which social influences become embodied” (Kuzawa and Sweet 2008: 2). A promising place for sociologists to enter into this research or use it fruitfully is to examine how social environments and inequalities become embodied...

IBM's Watson on Jeopardy! Blurring the Line between Humans and Technology

To the left is a 1917 portrait of Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM. A few weeks ago, IBM debuted its latest supercomputer, named after this giant of innovation (Watson), on the TV game-show Jeopardy! Though it seemed as though Watson was standing in between the two other competitors on the show, as Jeopardy! provided the computer with the same electronically-equipped podium as the other contestants, and even wrote “his” name on said podium, the brains behind this powerful supercomputer...

Virtual Conference Report: Day Five (23 Oct, 2009)

The first week of the conference has come to an end, and the final day has included two exciting papers, as well as a publishing workshop. The first paper entitled ‘Full Disclosure of the “Raw Data” of Research on Humans: Citizens’ Rights, Product Manufacturer’s Obligations and the Quality of the Scientific Database’ was presented by Dennis Mazur (Oregon Health and Sciences University). In his lecture, Mazur highlights the difficult and contentious issues involved in human testing, particularly the tensions between...

On the mutual exclusivity of science and religion and other cognitive clashes

Dena T. Smith This week’s Science Times profiled Dr. Francis S. Collins, the recently appointed director of The National Institutes of Health. The article (below) points to clashes between Collins’  belief in God and his identity as a scientist. Collins, who is best known for his involvement in the Human Genome Project, which set out, in the early 1990’s to do just what it sounds like it might – map the human DNA – is also a religious man. Further,...

The G8 protests and the logically inconsistent foundations of neoclassical economics

This post has moved to http://williampaulbell.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/the-g8-protests-and-the-logically-inconsistent-foundations-of-neoclassical-economics/ <About>  <Portfolio>  <Academia>  <LinkedIn>  <Twitter>  <Blog> Member of the World Economics Association – promoting ethics, openness, diversity of thought and democracy within the economics profession

Nature or Nurture as a complex interplay: the debate over the depression gene

By Dena T. Smith In the last several decades, the field of medicine has become increasingly dominated by biological thinking. Psychiatry, a sub-field aimed at treating mental illness is largely focused on the genetic causes of a wide range of conditions. This perspective stands in opposition to the notion that environmental factors cause symptoms – that changes in biology and/or neurochemistry are dictated by certain situations and conditions to which an organism is exposed. Depression is one illness category under...