Tag Archives: Tyler Irving

2012 Canadian science blog roundup and some thoughts on a Canadian science blog network

This is my 3rd annual roundup of Canadian science blogs and the science blogging scene in Canada seems to be getting more lively (see my Dec. 31, 2010 posting and Dec. 29, 2011 posting to compare).

As I did last year, I will start with

Goodbyes

Don’t leave Canada appears to be gone as there hasn’t been posting there since May 4, 2011. I’m sorry to see it go as Rob Annan provided thoughtful commentary on science policy on a regular basis for years. Thank you, Rob. (BTW, he’s now the director of policy, research and evaluation at MITACS.)

Cool Science, John McKay’s blog has been shut down as of Oct. 24, 2012,

Hi everyone. This will mark the final post of the CoolScience.ca site and it will be quietly taken offline in November. I will also be closing down the Twitter and Facebook accounts and moving everything over to my professional accounts that are all focused on communicating science, technology, engineering and medicine.

The Dark Matter science blog by Tom Spears, which I reluctantly (as it was a ‘newspaper blog’ from the Ottawa Citizen)included last year  has since disappeared as has NeuroDojo, a blog written by a Canadian scientist in Texas.

Goodbye ish

Marc Leger’s Atoms and Numbers blog’s latest posting is dated Oct. 23, 2012 but the pattern here seems similar to Marie-Claire’s (see the next one) where the posting is erratic but relatively regular (once or twice per month) until October of this year.

Marie-Claire Shanahan is posting less frequently on her Boundary Vision blog with the last posting there on Oct. 9, 2012.

The Bubble Chamber blog from the University of Toronto’s Science Policy Work Group seems to be fading away with only one posting for 2012, Reply to Wayne Myrvold on the Higgs Boson.

Colin Schulz’s CMBR blog hasn’t had a new posting since July 13, 2012’s 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Canada. In any event, it looks like the blog is no longer primarily focused on science.

The Exponential Book blog by Massimo Boninsegni features an Oct. 24, 2012 posting and a similar posting pattern to Marie-Claire & Marc.

exposure/effect which was new last year has gone into a fairly lengthy hiatus as per its last post in January 30, 2012 posting.

Theoretical biologist, Mario Pineda-Krch of Mario’s Entangled Bank blog is also taking a lengthy hiatus as the last posting on that blog was June 11, 2012.

Nicole Arbour’s Canadian science blog for the UK High Commission in Ottawa hasn’t featured a posting since Oct. 15, 2012’s The Power of We: Adapting to climate change.

Gregor Wolbring’s Nano and Nano- Bio, Info, Cogno, Neuro, Synbio, Geo, Chem… features an Aug. 4, 2012 posting which links to one of his nano articles, (Nanoscale Science and Technology and People with Disabilities in Asia: An Ability Expectation Analysis) published elsewhere.

Jeff Sharom’s Science Canada blog highlights links to editorials and articles on Canadian science policy but doesn’t seem to feature original writing by Sharom or anyone else, consequently, it functions more as a reader/aggregator than a blog.

The Black Hole blog which was always more focused on prospect for Canadian science graduates than Canadian science, hence always a bit of a stretch for inclusion here, has moved to the University Affairs website where it focuses more exclusively on the Canadian academic scene with posts such as this, Free journal access for postdocs in between positions  from Dec. 12, 2012.

Returning to the roundup:

John Dupuis’ Confessions of a Science Librarian whose Dec. 26, 2012 posting, Best Science (Fiction) Books 2012: io9 seems timely for anyone taking a break at this time of year and looking for some reading material.

Daniel Lemire’s blog is known simply as Daniel Lemire. He’s a computer scientist in Montréal who writes one of the more technical blogs I’ve come across and his focus seems to be databases although his Dec. 10, 2012 posting covers the topic of how to get things accomplished when you’re already busy.

Dave Ng, a professor with the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia, is a very active science communicator who maintain the Popperfont blog. The latest posting (Dec. 24, 2012) features Sciencegeek Advent Calendar Extravaganza! – Day 24.

Eric Michael Johnson continues with his The Primate Diaries blog on the Scientific American blog network. His Dec. 6, 2012 posting is a reposted article but he has kept up a regular (once per month, more or less) posting schedule,

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at ScienceBlogs.com and was subsequently a finalist in the 3 Quarks Daily Science Prize judged by Richard Dawkins. Fairness is the basis of the social contract. As citizens we expect that when we contribute our fair share we should receive our just reward. When social benefits are handed out …

Rosie Redfield is keeping with both her blogs, RRTeaching (latest posting, Dec. 6, 2012) and RRResearch (Nov. 17, 2012).

Sci/Why is a science blog being written by Canadian children’s writers who discuss science, words, and the eternal question – why?

Mathematician Nassif Ghoussoub’s Piece of Mind blog continues to feature incisive writing about science, science funding, policy and academe.

Canadian science writer Heather Pringle continues to post on the The Last Word on Nothing, a blog shared collectively by a number of well known science writers. Her next posting is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2013, according to the notice on the blog.

A little off my usual beat but I included these last year as they do write about science albeit medical and/or health science:

Susan Baxter’s blog Curmudgeon’s Corner features her insights into various medical matters, for example there’s her Dec. 1, 2012 posting on stress, the immune system, and the French antipathy towards capitalism.

Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders co-own two different blogs, Obesity Panacea, which is part of the PLoS (Public Library of Science) blogs network, and Science of Blogging which features very occasional posting but it’s worth a look for nuggets like this Oct. 12, 2012 (?) posting on social media for scientists.

After posting the 2011 roundup,

I had a number of suggestions for more Canadian science blogs such as these four who are part of the Scientific American SA) blogging network (in common with Eric Michael Johnson),

Dr. Carin Bondar posts on the SA blog, PsiVid, along with Joanne Manaster. There’s more than one Canadian science blogger who co-writes a blog. This one is self-described as, A cross section of science on the cyberscreen.

Glendon Mellow, a professional science illustrator,  posts on The Flying Trilobite (his own blog) and Symbiartic: the art of science and the science of art, an SA blog he shares with Kalliopi Monoyios.

Larry Moran, a biochemist at the University of Toronto, posts on science and anything else that tickles his fancy on his Sandwalk blog.

Eva Amsen who posts on a number of blogs including the NODE; the community site for developmental biologists  (which she also manages) but the best place to find a listing of her many blogs and interests is at easternblot.net, where she includes this self-description on the About page,

Online Projects

  • Musicians and Scientists – Why are so many people involved in both music and science? I’m on a mission to find out.
  • the NodeMy day job is managing a community site for developmental biologists around the world. The site is used by equal numbers of postdocs, PhD students, and lab heads.
  • SciBarCamp/SciBarCamb – I co-instigated SciBarCamp, an unconference for scientists, in Toronto in 2008. Since then I have co-organized five similar events in three countries, and have advised others on how to run science unconferences.
  • You Learn Something New Every Day – a Tumblr site that automatically aggregates tweets with the hashtag #ylsned, and Flickr photos tagged ylsned, to collect the interesting bits of trivia that people come across on a daily basis.
  • Lab Waste – During my last months in the lab as a PhD student, I made a mini-documentary (using CC-licensed materials) about the excessive amount of disposable plastics used in research labs. It screened in 2009 in the “Quirky Shorts” program of the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York.
  • Expression Patterns – In 2007 I was invited to blog on Nature Network. The complete archives from 2007-2012 are now on this site.
  • easternblot.net – Confusingly, my other science blog was named after this entire domain. It ran from 2005 to 2010, and can be found at science.easternblot.net

I believe Amsen is Canadian and working in the UK but if anyone could confirm, I would be much relieved.

Someone, who according to their About page prefers to remain anonymous but lives in Victoria, BC, and posts (somewhat irregularly, the last posting is dated Nov. 10, 2012) on The Olive Ridley Crawl,

I am an environmental scientist blogging about environmental and development issues that interest me. I prefer to be anonymous(e) because I work with some of the companies I may talk about and I want to avoid conflict of interest issues at work. This gets tricky because I am at the periphery of a lot of events happening in the world of my greatest expertise, persistent organic pollutants, endocrine disrupting compounds, their effects on health and the policy fights around chemicals, their use the controversies! So, I’ve reluctantly moved away from writing about what I know most about, which means this blog suffers severely. I still soldier on, though!

I was born, and grew up in India, so I am interested in all things South Asian and tend to view most all Western government and Western institution actions through a colonialist scratched lens! I am also becoming much more active about my feminism, so who knows what that will do to this blog. I have been meaning to write a monstrous essay about women, the environment and justice, but that’s a task!

I used to live in Chapel Hill, NC with a partner of long vintage (the partnership, that is, not her!) and a crazy cat who thinks he’s a dog. We moved to Victoria, BC in 2008 and I’ve been busy learning about Canadian policy, enjoying this most beautiful town I live in.

Why Olive Ridley? Well, the Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea) nests on the coasts of Madras, India and I got my start in the wonderful world of conservation working on the Olive Ridley with the Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network. So, I do have fond memories for this beautiful creature. And yes, as my dear partner reminds me, I did meet her on the beach when I was doing this work.

Agence Science-Presse (based in Québec and headed by Pascal Lapointe) features three blogs of its own:

Blogue ta science : les billets dédiés aux jeunes.

Discutez avec notre expert : avez-vous suivi notre enquête CSI ?

Autour des Blogues : les actualités de nos blogueurs et de la communauté.

There’s also a regular podcast under the Je vote pour la science banner.

genegeek appears to be Canadian (it has a domain in Canada) but the blog owner doesn’t really identify herself (there’s a photo) on the About page but no name and no biographical details. I did receive a tweet last year about genegeek from C. Anderson who I imagine is the blog owner.

There’s also the Canadian BioTechnologist2.0 blog, which is sponsored by Bio-Rad Canada and is written by an employee.

These next ones were added later in the year:

Chuck Black writes two blogs as he noted in June 2012,

I write two blogs which, while they focus more on space than science, do possess strong science components and overlap with some of the other blogs here.

They are: Commercial Space and Space Conference News.

Andy Park also came to my attention in June 2012. He writes the  It’s the Ecology, Stupid! blog.

Something About Science is a blog I featured in an Aug. 17, 2012 posting and I’m glad to see blogger, Lynn K, is still blogging.

New to the roundup in 2012:

SSChow, Sarah Chow’s blog, focuses on science events in Vancouver (Canada) and science events at the University of British Columbia and miscellaneous matters pertinent to her many science communication efforts.

The Canadian federal government seems to be trying its hand at science blogging with the Science.gc.ca Blogs (http://www.science.gc.ca/Blogs-WSE6EBB690-1_En.htm). An anemic effort given that boasts a total of six (or perhaps it’s five) posting in two or three years.

The Canadian Science Writers Association (CSWA) currently features a blog roll of its members’ blogs. This is a new initiative from the association and one I’m glad to see.  Here’s the list (from the CSWA member blog page),

Anne Steinø (Research Through the Eyes of a Biochemist)
Arielle Duhame-Ross (Salamander Hours)
Bob McDonald (I’m choking on this one since it’s a CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] blog for its Quirks and Quarks science pr0gram)
Cadell Last (The Ratchet)
Edward Willett
Elizabeth Howell (she seems to be blogging again and the easiest way for me to get to her postings was to click on the Archives link [I clicked on December 2012 to get the latest] after doing that I realized that the images on the page link to postings)
Heather Maughan
Justin Joschko
Kimberly Gerson (Endless Forms Most Beautiful)
Mark Green (a CSWA member, he was born and educated in the US where he lives and works; ordinarily I would not include him, even with his  CSWA membership status,  but he writes a monthly science column for a Cape Breton newspaper, which has made me pause)
Pamela Lincez (For the Love of Science)
Sarah Boon (Watershed Moments)
Susan Eaton (she seems to be reposting articles written [presumably by her] for the AAPG [American Association of Petroleum Geologists] Explorer and other organizations in her blog]

Barry Shell’s site (listed as a CSWA member blog) doesn’t match my admittedly foggy notion of a blog. It seems more of an all round Canadian science resource featuring profiles of Canadian scientists, a regularly updated news archive, and more. Science.ca is extraordinary and I’m thankful to have finally stumbled across it but it doesn’t feature dated posts in common with the other blogs listed here, even the most commercial ones.

Tyler Irving (I had no idea he had his own blog when I mentioned him in my Sept. 25, 2012 posting about Canadian chemists and the Canadian Chemical Institute’s publications) posts at the Scientific Canadian.

I choke again, as I do when mentioning blogs that are corporate media blogs, but in the interest of being as complete as possible Julia Belluz writes the Scien-ish blog about health for MacLean’s magazine.

Genome Alberta hosts a couple of blogs: Genomics and Livestock News & Views.

Occam’s Typewriter is an informal network of science bloggers two of whom are Canadian:

Cath Ennis (VWXYNot?) and Richard Wintle (Adventures in Wonderland). Note: The Guardian Science Blogs network seems to have some sort of relationship with Occam’s Typewriter as you will see postings from the Occam’s network featured as part of Occam’s Corner on the Guardian website.

My last blogger in this posting is James Colliander from the University of  Toronto’s Mathematics Department. He and Nassif (Piece of Mind blog mentioned previously) seem to share a similar interest in science policy and funding issues.

ETA Jan.2.13: This is a social science oriented blog maintained by a SSHRC- (Social Science and Humanities Research Council) funded network cluster called the Situating Science Cluster and the blog’s official name is: Cluster Blog. This is where you go to find out about Science and Technology Studies (STS) and History of Science Studies, etc. and events associated with those studies.

I probably should have started with this definition of a Canadian blogger, from the Wikipedia entry,

A Canadian blogger is the author of a weblog who lives in Canada, has Canadian citizenship, or writes primarily on Canadian subjects. One could also be considered a Canadian blogger if one has a significant Canadian connection, though this is debatable.

Given how lively the Canadian science blogging scene has become, I’m not sure I can continue with these roundups as they take more time each year.  At the very least, I’ll need to define the term Canadian Science blogger, in the hope of reducing the workload,  if I decide to continue after this year.

There’s a rather interesting Nov. 26, 2012 article by Stephanie Taylor for McGill Daily about the Canadian public’s science awareness and a dearth of Canadian science communication,

Much of the science media that Canadians consume and have access to is either American or British: both nations have a robust, highly visible science media sector. While most Canadians wouldn’t look primarily to American journalism for political news and analysis, science doesn’t have the same inherent national boundaries that politics does. While the laws of physics don’t change depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on, there are scientific endeavours that are important to Canadians but have little importance to other nations. It’s unlikely that a British researcher would investigate the state of the Canadian cod fishery, or that the British press would cover it, but that research is critical to a substantial number of Canadians’ livelihoods.

On the other hand, as Canadian traditional media struggles to consistently cover science news, there’s been an explosion of scientists of all stripes doing a lot of the necessary big picture, broad context, critical analysis on the internet. The lack of space restrictions and accessibility of the internet (it’s much easier to start a blog than try to break in to traditional media) mean that two of the major barriers to complex discussion of science in the media are gone. Blogs struggle to have the same reach as newspapers and traditional media, though, and many of the most successful science blogs are under the online umbrella of mainstream outlets like Scientific American and Discover. Unfortunately and perhaps unsurprisingly, there is currently no Canadian science blog network like this. [emphasis mine]

Yes, let’s create a Canadian science blog network. I having been talking to various individuals about this over the last year (2012) and while there’s interest, someone offered to help and then changed their mind. Plus, I was hoping to persuade the the Canadian Science Writers Association to take it on but I think they were too far advanced in their planning for a member’s network to consider something more generalized (and far more expensive). So, if anyone out there has ideas about how to do this, please do comment and perhaps we can get something launched in 2013.

Calling all Canadian chemists: about communicating your work

You never know where something is going to take you, especially not online. My Aug. 9, 2012 posting about a communications  initiative for young scientists in the UK attracted a comment from staff writer/news editor Tyler Irving of the Canadian Chemical News/L’Actualité chimique canadienne. (This is published by the Chemical Institute of Canada, an umbrella organization for three different societies: Canadian Society for Chemistry, Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, and Canadian Society for Chemical Technology.) He very kindly informed me,

I’m always looking for interesting research by Canadian chemists and chemical engineers to write about in the Chemical News section of ACCN, the Canadian Chemical News.  While I do often rely on media releases, I’m trying to spread the word that researchers should feel comfortable contacting me directly; it cuts out the middleman. Moreover, copies of our magazine are sent to the publishers of Macleans, Quirks and Quarks, and other outlets for science-based journalism.  So in a way, getting coverage with us acts as a kind of media release in itself.

Exciting, yes? He also gave some indication as to what he’s working on for the next issue,

I’m currently working on the November/December issue of the magazine, and while I have a story about catalysis already, it’s threatening to turn into a full-blown feature rather than a short Chem News article. … please feel free to drop me a note.

Here’s the contact information,

Tyler Irving
News Editor
(ETA Nov. 2, 2012: The contact telephone number was removed. Tyler says it’s easier to contact him via email.)
tirving{at}cheminst{dot}ca

This is a wonderful and generous offer and I would like to suggest that before you race off to contact him about your latest work that you pause and consider how to best present the work to him. Being of a somewhat enthusiastic and impulsive nature myself, I can state uncategorically that contacting someone and sharing ‘stream of consciousness’ excitement about your work does not encourage the kind of result you hope for. Take the time to think about what the editor might want. Here are a few suggestions:

(1) intelligibility

(2) self-introduction (your name, area of expertise, academic institution or business)

(3) the same kind of brief description of your latest work that you would give a fellow chemist who doesn’t know much about your specific area of expertise

(4) the courtesy of using his/her correct name (ETA Nov. 2, 2012: I actually forgot to write his/her the first time.)

(5) if you do already have a news release, send it along with a personal note

Good luck!

Death of Evidence rally comments roundup

The ‘Death of Evidence ‘ rally in Ottawa, Canada on July 10, 2012 (mentioned in my July 10, 2012 posting) attracted 1,500 or perhaps  hundreds of scientists according to the various accounts I’ve been reading. Bradley Turcotte provided an estimate of 1,000 in a July 11, 2012 article for Xtra newspaper (Canada’s Gay & Lesbian News),

More than 1,000 scientists and allies marched to Parliament Hill from the Ottawa Conference Centre July 10 to protest the Harper government’s sweeping cuts to scientific programs.
The death-of-evidence rally was modelled after a funeral procession; many protesters were dressed in lab coats, scientific garb or black attire. The marchers were led by a woman dressed as the Grim Reaper, and morose pallbearers carried a coffin symbolizing the death of scientific evidence.

Vance Trudeau, a professor at the University of Ottawa and president of the North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology, said the funding cuts will affect the health of all Canadians and compared the actions of the Harper government to those of a totalitarian regime.
“The tendency to use only data and evidence that you like is the misuse of information for alternative purposes. The definition . . . is known as propaganda,” Trudeau said.

Léo Charbonneau at his University Affairs (Association of Universities and Colleges of  Canada) Margin Notes blog offers another, higher estimate of how many marched and some additional information about the rally/march in his July 10, 2012 posting (Note: I have removed links),

Like any wake, there were some lighter moments but also an underlying seriousness as roughly 1,500 scientists, students and supporters rallied at noontime today on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to hold a mock funeral to mourn the “death of evidence.” According to the protest organizers’ website, “Until recently, evidence served a prominent role guiding the decisions of Canadian leaders. Its voice was tragically silenced recently after a series of severe injuries.”

The rallying cry for the event: “No science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy.”

….

Scientists came to the rally from across Canada. Some were already in town for a conference on evolutionary biology. Among them was Simon Fraser University biologist Felix Breden. “It takes a lot to mobilize scientists who normally concentrate on basic science questions,” said Dr. Breden. “But the Harper government’s blatant disregard for science-based evidence and public consultation in the formation of its polices has motivated this march.”

Charbonneau has included a slideshow of the rally at the end of his posting.

The range of commentary I’ve been able to find online is largely supportive including this July 11, 2012 commentary by Alice Bell for the UK Guardian newspaper (Note: I have removed links),

Scientists seem to be forever complaining they’re marginalised so, it might be tempting to roll your eyes. When a group from the UK drove a coffin down Westminster last May they were described as “childish”. This recent Canadian action might look similar, but it was far from childish.

They weren’t simply sticking up for their pay cheques, they were sticking up for the right to ask difficult questions and provide uncomfortable knowledge, in particular when it comes to the Arctic. They were sticking up for the things they research as well as the right to keep doing their research. They were sticking up for the planet. The Canadian scientists who spoke to the Guardian were keen to stress this is less about research budgets versus the rest of the economy, and more simply evidence versus ideology.

The harshest criticism I’ve been able to find is from Tyler Irving in a July 9, 2012 posting on his Scientific Canadian blog,

So, are the Harper conservatives anti-evidence? Certainly it’s true that in some cases (the long-form census and the gun registry are two good examples) they have ignored certain facts in order to satisfy their electoral base. But that’s their prerogative: the fact is that all governments ignore advice, even scientific advice, when it suits them to do so. And unlike the loonies in some other countries, our government has made no moves to deny the truth of fundamental scientific principles, even controversial ones like climate change.

What’s more worrying to me is the idea that the changes they have made in recent years could impair the ability of future governments to take science-based advice, even if they want to.

As for my take on things, I agree with Irving that the cuts are not the ‘death of evidence-based science in Canada’. Equally, I’m not thrilled with the current trend towards less and less communication about research and science, especially since it’s paid for by taxpayers. As for specific cuts, I am still outraged by the decision to eliminate the obligatory long form census as there was no discernible reason. The loss of the Experimental Lakes Area seems to be another such decision.

Overall, this “Death of Evidence” rally is something I find hard to fathom. I don’t believe there is a precedent in Canadian history for this science protest. In concert with other activity I’ve noted here on FrogHeart (the ‘Don’t leave Canada behind’ protest letter/blog of a few years ago, rising numbers of Canadian science blogs, the advent of the Canadian Science Policy Centre, etc.), it would seem that we are entering a new age for science in Canada. A louder, more vociferous, more politically active science community appears to be emerging.

ETA July 13, 2012 3:30 pm PST: Marie-Claire Shanahan (last name corrected July 16.12) offers a more comprehensive roundup of the Death of Evidence media coverage in her July 13, 2012 posting and offers comments along this line (Note: I have removed some links),

Did I first hear about the protest from the CBC though? No, the first news I read about it was from the The Guardian in the UK, where it was reported a full four and half hours earlier. Similarly during the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference hosted in Vancouver in February 2012 there were panels and gatherings addressing the alleged muzzling of Canadian scientists. Where did I hear about them?  From the BBC.

ETA July 16, 2012: David Bruggeman at his Pasco Phronesis blog has weighed in with a July 14, 2012 posting titled, Would U.S. Scientists Stage a Mock Funeral? Should They? where he discusses the British and Canadian protests as well as speculating on possible future US protests,

Over the last two months both Canadian and British scientists staged mock funerals to protest funding decisions by their respective governments.  There are some notable differences between the two protests.  Two that attracted my attention relate to the people and institutions involved.

The British protest was focused relatively narrowly, on how one of the granting councils prioritizes research.  …

It’s a little too soon to know how effective the Canadian protest will be, but it is more broadly focused on the increasing difficulty government scientists are having in communicating with the public.

But I don’t have a definitive answer for the title question – would American scientists rent a caisson and casket to march down Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol?  The pending ‘fiscal cliff’ in the federal budget could notably impact science funding – the first among equals issue for U.S. science policy.  But science advocates in the U.S. have their fiscal pleading strategies and resist most urges to deviate from them.  I do not see a mock funeral in our future.  But I have been in Washington a long time.  …

The 3rd party analysis, which contrasts the British and Canadian protests is quite interesting. Thank you, David.

ETA July 19, 2012: The journal Nature weighs in with an open access July 18, 2012 editorial,

The sight last week of 2,000 scientists marching on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill highlighted a level of unease in the Canadian scientific community that is unprecedented in living memory.

The lab-coated crowd of PhD students, postdocs, senior scientists and their supporters staged a mock funeral for the ‘death of evidence’. They said that the conservative government of prime minister Stephen Harper intends to suppress sources of scientific data that would refute what they see as pro-industry and anti-environment policies. Their list of alleged offences against science and scientific inquiry is lengthy and sobering.

It is important to note that the Harper government has increased science and technology spending every year since it took power in 2006, and has made a serious and successful attempt to attract top researchers to Canada. It has also set its sights on bolstering applied research, an area in which Canada has been relatively weak.

Nonetheless, the critics’ specific complaints do give cause for deep concern — which is borne out by a close look at the specifics of the Harper budget that was passed into law late last month.

It is hard to believe that finance is the true reason for these closures. PEARL costs the government about Can$1.5 million a year, and the ELA Can$2 million. The savings from eliminating the NRTEE would come to Can$5 million — all from a total science and technology budget of some Can$11 billion. Critics say that the government is targeting research into the natural environment because it does not like the results being produced.

Instead of issuing a full-throated defence of its policies, and the thinking behind them, the government has resorted to a series of bland statements about its commitment to science and the commercialization of research. Only occasionally does the mask slip — one moment of seeming frankness came on the floor of the House of Commons in May, when foreign-affairs minister John Baird defended the NRTEE’s demise by noting that its members “have tabled more than ten reports encouraging a carbon tax”.

2000 is the largest number I’ve seen as an estimate for the Death of Evidence protestor count.  Contrary to my usual practice, I have not included any details about the organizations behind the abbreviations in the excerpt as I think it’s worthwhile to read the Nature editorial’s explanation f these agency cancellations. Frankly, they do better job of explaining than I can.