Who would win in a fight between a rhino and a tiger?

tigerrhinoI got an email from our university press officer earlier this week asking “whether we have a ‘zoologist who could participate in a light-hearted discussion about who would win in a fight between a tiger and a rhino on Friday morning’.” The request was from the local BBC Radio Leeds team who wanted to break up their coverage of the Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers rugby league Challenge Cup final preparations with some light-hearted digressions. I have resolved to take a more active part in science communication (including this blog), because I see that as a fundamental part of my job (even if it is little-rewarded…) and so I agreed to do it.Read More »


Climate change denial: advice for skeptical projects

To round-out this quick series on the climate denial project, I thought I would reflect on some of the aspects of the project in the context of skeptical activism.  There are a wide range of these kinds of projects, and it is worthwhile attempting to share best practice when we can in order to make the most of limited (often volunteer-based) resources.  I know that the Eschaton2012 conference recently had a panel on skeptical activism which probably covered the same points, so I suggest you check that out as well.  Jeff Shallit has some interesting points for individuals, but this will consider what groups can accomplish.  Which leads me nicely into…Read More »

Climate change denial: my experience with the media

This is my third post relating to a project that looked at climate change denial as it was being taught in a Canadian university (see here for background, and here for response to some criticism).  We were expecting the skeptical community to pick it up, and the report was written mostly for that audience.  What we were not expecting was international media coverage and a few dozen blog posts.  Here, I will briefly reflect on what the media contact was like.

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I’ve been nominated for an award (along with everyone else!)

Scientific American is running its Open Lab science blog competition, where readers submit blog posts that they have come across over the last 12 months.  The best are turned into an E-book (you can find the previous editions here).  Anyway, somebody has apparently nominated my post on “Why are there imperfect mimics?” (thanks, whoever you are!).  I was excited until I saw the field of 269 other entries and realised I didn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance…  There are some amazing people who have been nominated, so you should all go and check out my vanquishers!  Oh, and the deadline is midnight EDT tonight (1st October) so…


New Ben Goldacre book on clinical trials and academic misconduct

I’ve been working on getting the blog up and running again, and I have a few posts in the pipeline.  However, this topic is one close to my heart and I wanted to post on it as soon as possible.  I have blogged about the limitations of clinical trials and the need for clinical trial registration before.  Ben Goldacre has published a new book (“Bad Pharma: How Drugs Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients“) on precisely this problem, and gave a recent TED talk that frames the issue brilliantly.  As he says “tell everyone that this is a problem, and that it hasn’t been fixed”:

Image credit: Tom Varco

From the Dojo to the Classroom: teaching in martial arts

EDIT: While I was writing this I couldn’t remember the name of the instructor who led the roundtable: Dr Solveiga Armosakaite.  I should have included her name as a credit and I apologise for not doing so earlier!

I’ve been taking martial arts classes for a couple of years now (Shorinji Kan Jiu Jitsu, for those of you who are interested, more details here) and I’ve reached the stage where I have started taking on small teaching roles within the dojo. At the same time, I also started teaching undergraduate classes at a university. As a result, I was interested when the Educational Development Centre at Carleton University put on a “round table” event with an instructor who incorporated her knowledge of martial arts into her university teaching. I took fairly extensive notes which I have reproduced below.

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