Tag Archives: science literacy

FLOATER: A Tool-Kit for Evaluating [Scientific] Claims

FLOATER toolkit [downloaded from http://thinkingispower.com/floater-a-tool-kit-for-evaluating-claims/]
FLOATER [downloaded from http://thinkingispower.com/floater-a-tool-kit-for-evaluating-claims/¸]

Thanks to Raymond Nakamura`s November 16, 2021 tweet (his website is here), I found this rather nifty tool and the Thinking is Power website.

Before moving on to the toolkit, here’s a little about the website’s creator (from the About page) Note: A link has been removed,

Thinking Is Power (TIP) was created by science educator and communicator Melanie Trecek-King to provide accessible critical thinking content to the general public through entertaining stories, approachable language, and shareable graphics.

TIP’s content is based on a general-education science course Trecek-King developed that’s designed to help students understand the process of science and how to use critical thinking to make informed decisions. The course was the result of years of teaching introductory biology students to (mostly) memorize facts and realizing they were going to forget everything…except how much they hated science. Trecek-King’s other goal with TIP is therefore to encourage other science educators to reflect on how we teach science, and even what it means to be science literate. Is it memorizing and regurgitating facts? Or understanding how the process of science acquires knowledge and why it’s reliable? 

Since its launch in January of 2021, Thinking Is Power has rapidly become a go-to resource in the area of science communication and critical thinking. …

As for the toolkit, here’s some of what I found particularly interesting (from the FLOATER webpage) Note: Links have been removed,

As a science educator, my primary goals are to teach students the essential skills of science literacy and critical thinking. Helping them understand the process of science and how to draw reasonable conclusions from the available evidence can empower them to make better decisions and protect them from being fooled or harmed.

Yet while nearly all educators would agree that these skills are important, the stubborn persistence of pseudoscientific and irrational beliefs demonstrates that we have plenty of room for improvement. To help address this problem, I developed a general-education science course which, instead of teaching science as a collection of facts to memorize, teaches students how to evaluate the evidence for claims to determine how we know something and to recognize the characteristics of good science by evaluating bad science, pseudoscience, and science denial.

In my experience, science literacy and critical thinking skills are difficult to master. Therefore, it helps to provide students with a structured toolkit to systematically evaluate claims and allow for ample opportunities to practice. …

The foundation of FLOATER is skepticism. While skepticism has taken on a variety of connotations, from cynicism to denialism, scientific skepticism is simply insisting on evidence before accepting a claim, and proportioning the strength of our belief to the strength and quality of the evidence.  

Before using this guide, clearly identify the claim and define any potentially ambiguous terms. And remember, the person making the claim bears the burden of proof and must provide enough positive evidence to establish the claim’s truth. 

I’m included one excerpt from the poster in the hope that it will encourage readers to visit the webpage and/or site for themselves (from the FLOATER webpage) , Note: Links have been removed,

It seems counterintuitive, but the first step in determining if a claim is true is to try to determine if you can prove it wrong. 

Falsifiable claims can be proven false with evidence. If a claim is false, the evidence will disprove it. If it’s true the evidence won’t be able to disprove it. 

Scientific claims must be falsifiable. Indeed, the process of science involves trying to disprove falsifiable claims. If the claim withstands attempts at disproof we are more justified in tentatively accepting it. 

Unfalsifiable claims cannot be proven false with evidence. They could be true, but since there is no way to use evidence to test the claim, any “evidence” that appears to support the claim is useless. Unfalsifiable claims are essentially immune to evidence. 

There are four types of claims that are unfalsifiable.

1. Subjective claims: Claims based on personal preferences, opinions, values, ethics, morals, feelings, and judgements. 

For example, I may believe that cats make the best pets and that healthcare is a basic human right, but neither of these beliefs are falsifiable, no matter how many facts or pieces of evidence I use to justify them.

2. Supernatural claims: Claims that invoke entities such as gods and spirits, vague energies and forces, and magical human abilities such as psychic powers.

By definition, the supernatural is above and beyond what is natural and observable and therefore isn’t falsifiable. This doesn’t mean these claims are necessarily false (or true!), but that there is no way to collect evidence to test them.

For example, so-called “energy medicine,” such as reiki and acupuncture, is based on the claim that illnesses are caused by out-of-balance energy fields which can be adjusted to restore health. However, these energy fields cannot be detected and do not correspond to any known forms of energy.

There are, however, cases where supernatural claims can be falsifiable. First, if a psychic claims to be able to impact the natural world in some way, such as moving/bending objects or reading minds, we can test their abilities under controlled conditions. And second, claims of supernatural events that leave physical evidence can be tested. For example, young earth creationists claim that the Grand Canyon was formed during Noah’s flood approximately 4,000 years ago. A global flood would leave behind geological evidence, such as massive erosional features and deposits of sediment. Unsurprisingly, the lack of such evidence disproves this claim. However, even if the evidence pointed to a global flood only a few thousand years ago, we still couldn’t falsify the claim that a god was the cause.

3. Vague claims: Claims that are undefined, indefinite, or unclear.

Your horoscope for today says, “Today is a good day to dream. Avoid making any important decisions. The energy of the day might bring new people into your life.”

Because this horoscope uses ambiguous and vague terms, such as “dream,” “important”, and “might”, it doesn’t make any specific, measurable predictions. Even more, because it’s open to interpretation, you could convince yourself that it matches what happened to you during the day, especially if you spent the day searching for “evidence.”

Due to legal restrictions, many alternative medicine claims are purposefully vague. For example, a supplement bottle says it “strengthens the immune system,” or a chiropractic advertisement claims it “reduces fatigue.” While these sweeping claims are essentially meaningless because of their ambiguity, consumers often misinterpret them and wrongly conclude that the products are efficacious.

4. Ad hoc excuses: These entail rationalizing and making excuses to explain away observations that might disprove the claim. 

While the three types of claims described thus far are inherently unfalsifiable, sometimes we protect false beliefs by finding ways to make them unfalsifiable. We do this by making excuses, moving the goalposts, discounting sources or denying evidence, or proclaim that it’s our “opinion.” 

For example, a psychic may dismiss an inaccurate reading by proclaiming her energy levels were low. Or, an acupuncturist might excuse an ineffective treatment by claiming the needles weren’t placed properly along the patient’s meridians. Conspiracy theorists are masters at immunizing their beliefs against falsification by claiming that supportive evidence was covered up and that contradictory evidence was planted.

The rule of falsifiability essentially boils down to this: Evidence matters. And never assume a claim is true because it can’t be proven wrong. 

Interesting, eh? There are another six to investigate on the FLOATER webpage.

One last thing, there’s also, “How to Read the News Like a Scientist; Overwhelmed by your news feed? Use tools from science to evaluate what’s true and what’s fake,” suggests researcher Emma Frans in a March 22, 2019 blog posting (made available by Pocket) by Daniella Balarezo and Daryl Chen for TED Ideas .

Want a free course in science literacy? The University of Alberta has one for you

The folks at the University of Alberta have created a course for learning critical thinking skills where science is concerned. An Oct. 24, 2020 article by Nicole Bergot for the Edmonton Journal describes the course,

“The purpose of this course is to teach people about the process of science and how it is used to acquire knowledge,” course host Claire Scavuzzo, researcher in the Department of Psychology, said in a release. “By the end of the course, learners will be able to understand and use scientific evidence to challenge claims based on misinformation and engage the process of science to ask questions to build our knowledge.”

“With the uncertainty that comes with the current global COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing a general public distrust in science; ironically because of its self-correcting process,” said Scavuzzo.

The online course has no prerequisites, features guest lecturers, and can be completed at the learner’s own pace — roughly five weeks, with five to seven hours per week of study.

The five modules of the course are presented with practice quizzes, reflective quizzes, and interactive learning objects that are all available for free.

A University of Alberta Oct. 13, 2020 news release provides more detail,

We are often told not to believe everything we read online or see on TV—but how do we tell the difference between sensationalized statistics and a real scientific study? A new online course in Science Literacy offered by the University of Alberta is ready to help learners spot sound science—an increasingly relevant skill in today’s world of social media.

The course covers a variety of topics, Scavuzzo explained, and students will have the opportunity to learn how holistic wisdom is gained and practiced by Canadian First Nations, Indigenous, and Metis peoples, compared to the westernized process of science. They will also learn how to think critically about scientific claims from a variety of sources, learning how to differentiate science from pseudoscience.

“Students can expect to finish this course with well-polished critical thinking skills. Rather than ‘science knowledge’ students will build the skill of thinking scientifically, so they are ready to engage in the process of science,” said Scavuzzo. “It may expose some of your biases and it may also help you recognize the value of challenging your biases by being skeptical, asking questions, and evaluating evidence. It will change the way you interact with and absorb content on social media. It will make you realize that these skills can—and should—be used every day.”

Here’s the list of guest lecturers (from the University of Alberta Oct. 13, 2020 news release),

  • Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and star of Netflix’s “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death” on pseudoscience
  • Dr. Torah Kachur, Scientist and CBC journalist on science communication (and miscommunication!)
  • Christian Nelson, citizen scientist and creator of Edmonton Weather Nerdery, on experimental design
  • Cree Elder Kokum Rose Wabasca on how traditional knowledge is used in indigenous practices.
  • Métis Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper on how indigenous knowledge informs scientific discovery.
  • Dr. David Rast, scientist and psychology expert, on uncertainty and decision making

You can get more details about this Science Literacy Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) here (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Module Overview) and to click on the registration link. There’s one other thing, you can get certified in Science Literacy should you choose that option.

Science literacy, science advice, the US Supreme Court, and Britain’s House of Commons

This ‘think’ piece is going to cover a fair bit of ground including science literacy in the general public and in the US Supreme Court, and what that might mean for science advice and UK Members of Parliament (MPs).

Science literacy generally and in the US Supreme Court

A science literacy report for the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), due sometime from early to mid 2017, is being crafted with an eye to capturing a different perspective according to a March 24, 2016 University of Wisconsin-Madison news release by Terry Dewitt,

What does it mean to be science literate? How science literate is the American public? How do we stack up against other countries? What are the civic implications of a public with limited knowledge of science and how it works? How is science literacy measured?

These and other questions are under the microscope of a 12-member National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel — including University of Wisconsin—Madison Life Sciences Communication Professor Dominique Brossard and School of Education Professor Noah Feinstein — charged with sorting through the existing data on American science and health literacy and exploring the association between knowledge of science and public perception of and support for science.

The committee — composed of educators, scientists, physicians and social scientists — will take a hard look at the existing data on the state of U.S. science literacy, the questions asked, and the methods used to measure what Americans know and don’t know about science and how that knowledge has changed over time. Critically for science, the panel will explore whether a lack of science literacy is associated with decreased public support for science or research.

Historically, policymakers and leaders in the scientific community have fretted over a perceived lack of knowledge among Americans about science and how it works. A prevailing fear is that an American public unequipped to come to terms with modern science will ultimately have serious economic, security and civic consequences, especially when it comes to addressing complex and nuanced issues like climate change, antibiotic resistance, emerging diseases, environment and energy choices.

While the prevailing wisdom, inspired by past studies, is that Americans don’t stack up well in terms of understanding science, Brossard is not so convinced. Much depends on what kinds of questions are asked, how they are asked, and how the data is analyzed.

It is very easy, she argues, to do bad social science and past studies may have measured the wrong things or otherwise created a perception about the state of U.S. science literacy that may or may not be true.

“How do you conceptualize scientific literacy? What do people need to know? Some argue that scientific literacy may be as simple as an understanding of how science works, the nature of science, [emphasis mine]” Brossard explains. “For others it may be a kind of ‘civic science literacy,’ where people have enough knowledge to be informed and make good decisions in a civics context.”

Science literacy may not be just for the public, it would seem that US Supreme Court judges may not have a basic understanding of how science works. David Bruggeman’s March 24, 2016 posting (on his Pasco Phronesis blog) describes a then current case before the Supreme Court (Justice Antonin Scalia has since died), Note: Links have been removed,

It’s a case concerning aspects of the University of Texas admissions process for undergraduates and the case is seen as a possible means of restricting race-based considerations for admission.  While I think the arguments in the case will likely revolve around factors far removed from science and or technology, there were comments raised by two Justices that struck a nerve with many scientists and engineers.

Both Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts raised questions about the validity of having diversity where science and scientists are concerned [emphasis mine].  Justice Scalia seemed to imply that diversity wasn’t esential for the University of Texas as most African-American scientists didn’t come from schools at the level of the University of Texas (considered the best university in Texas).  Chief Justice Roberts was a bit more plain about not understanding the benefits of diversity.  He stated, “What unique perspective does a black student bring to a class in physics?”

To that end, Dr. S. James Gates, theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, and member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (and commercial actor) has an editorial in the March 25 [2016] issue of Science explaining that the value of having diversity in science does not accrue *just* to those who are underrepresented.

Dr. Gates relates his personal experience as a researcher and teacher of how people’s background inform their practice of science, and that two different people may use the same scientific method, but think about the problem differently.

I’m guessing that both Scalia and Roberts and possibly others believe that science is the discovery and accumulation of facts. In this worldview science facts such as gravity are waiting for discovery and formulation into a ‘law’. They do not recognize that most science is a collection of beliefs and may be influenced by personal beliefs. For example, we believe we’ve proved the existence of the Higgs boson but no one associated with the research has ever stated unequivocally that it exists.

For judges who are under the impression that scientific facts are out there somewhere waiting to be discovered diversity must seem irrelevant. It is not. Who you are affects the questions you ask and how you approach science. The easiest example is to look at how women were viewed when they were subjects in medical research. The fact that women’s physiology is significantly different (and not just in child-bearing ways) was never considered relevant when reporting results. Today, researchers consider not only gender, but age (to some extent), ethnicity, and more when examining results. It’s still not a perfect but it was a step forward.

So when Brossard included “… an understanding of how science works, the nature of science …” as an aspect of science literacy, the judges seemed to present a good example of how not understanding science can have a major impact on how others live.

I’d almost forgotten this science literacy piece as I’d started the draft some months ago but then I spotted a news item about a science advice/MP ‘dating’ service in the UK.

Science advice and UK MPs

First, the news, then, the speculation (from a June 6, 2016 news item on ScienceDaily),

MPs have expressed an overwhelming willingness to use a proposed new service to swiftly link them with academics in relevant areas to help ensure policy is based on the latest evidence.

A June 6, 2016 University of Exeter press release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the proposed service and the research providing the supporting evidence (Note: A link has been removed),

The government is pursuing a drive towards evidence-based policy, yet policy makers still struggle to incorporate evidence into their decisions. One reason for this is limited easy access to the latest research findings or to academic experts who can respond to questions about evidence quickly.

Researchers at Cardiff University, the University of Exeter and University College London have today published results of the largest study to date reporting MPs’ attitudes to evidence in policy making and their reactions to a proposed Evidence Information Service (EIS) – a rapid match-making advisory service that would work alongside existing systems to put MPs in touch with relevant academic experts.

Dr Natalia Lawrence, of the University of Exeter, said: “It’s clear from our study that politicians want to ensure their decisions incorporate the most reliable evidence, but it can sometimes be very difficult for them to know how to access the latest research findings. This new matchmaking service could be a quick and easy way for them to seek advice from cutting-edge researchers and to check their understanding and facts. It could provide a useful complement to existing highly-valued information services.”

The research, published today in the journal Evidence and Policy, reports the findings of a national consultation exercise between politicians and the public. The researchers recruited members of the public to interview their local parliamentary representative. In total 86, politicians were contacted with 56 interviews completed. The MPs indicated an overwhelming willingness to use a service such as the EIS, with 85% supporting the idea, but noted a number of potential reservations related to the logistics of the EIS such as response time and familiarity with the service. Yet, the MPs indicated that their logistical reservations could be overcome by accessing the EIS via existing highly-valued parliamentary information services such as those provided by the House of Commons and Lords Libraries. Furthermore prior to rolling out the EIS on a nationwide basis it would first need to be piloted.

Developing the proposed EIS in line with feedback from this consultation of MPs would offer the potential to provide policy makers with rapid, reliable and confidential evidence from willing volunteers from the research community.

Professor Chris Chambers, of Cardiff University, said: “The government has given a robust steer that MPs need to link in more with academics to ensure decisions shaping the future of the country are evidence-based. It’s heartening to see that there is a will to adopt this system and we now need to move into a phase of developing a service that is both simple and effective to meet this need.”

The next steps for the project are parallel consultations of academics and members of the public and a pilot of the EIS, using funding from GW4 alliance of universities, made up of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

What this study shows:
• The consultation shows that politicians recognise the importance of evidence-based policy making and agree on the need for an easier and more direct linkage between academic experts and policy makers.
• Politicians would welcome the creation of the EIS as a provider of rapid, reliable and confidential evidence.

What this study does not show:
• This study does not show how academics would provide evidence. This was a small-scale study which consulted politicians and has not attempted to give voice to the academic community.
• This study does not detail the mechanism of an operational EIS. Instead it indicates the need for a service such as the EIS and suggests ways in which the EIS can be operationalized.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Service as a new platform for supporting evidence-based policy: a consultation of UK parliamentarians by Natalia Lawrence, Jemma Chambers, Sinead Morrison, Sven Bestmann, Gerard O’Grady, Christopher Chambers, Andrew Kythreotis. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/174426416X14643531912169 Appeared or available online: June 6, 2016

This paper is behind a paywall open access. *Corrected June 17, 2016.*

It’s an interesting idea and I can understand the appeal. However, operationalizing this ‘dating’ or ‘matchmaking’ service could prove quite complex. I appreciate the logistics issues but I’m a little more concerned about the MPs’ science literacy. Are they going to be like the two US justices who believe that science is the pursuit of immutable facts? What happens if two MPs are matched up with a different scientist and those two scientists didn’t agree about what the evidence says. Or, what happens if one scientist is more cautious than the other. There are all kinds of pitfalls. I’m not arguing against the idea but it’s going to require a lot of careful consideration.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s NanoSpace online science ‘theme park’ and science literacy project wins web award

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s NonoSpace, which opened in Oct. 2012, was designed to improve science literacy according to the Oct. 18, 2012 news release,

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today unveiled NanoSpace, an online “molecular theme park” populated with more than 25 games, activities, and animations to educate and excite young students about the world of atoms and molecules.

From playing “Who wants to be a Quindecillionaire?” in H2OPark, to solving the Polypeptide Puzzler in DNA Land, to button-jamming on Electronz and other retro-style games in the arcade, NanoSpace visitors are having too much fun to notice they’re also learning complex scientific topics.

NanoSpace is the latest platform from the Molecularium Project, which is the flagship outreach and education effort of the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center. Many NanoSpace games and activities feature the characters Oxy, Hydra, and Mel from the Molecularium animated movies Molecules to the MAX! and Riding Snowflakes.

The mission of the Molecularium Project is to expand science literacy and awareness, and to excite audiences of all ages to explore and understand the molecular nature of the world around them. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and others, the project is a direct response to the challenge of inspiring more young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This is a significant workforce development issue, as the NSF estimates 80 percent of jobs created in the next decade will require some mastery of STEM.

“Science literacy—in every capacity—has never before been so important to our nation,” said Professor Richard W. Siegel, the Robert W. Hunt Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer and director of the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center.  “We realize that not every kid wants to be a scientist, but learning the basics of science—involving molecules and atoms—is critical to the careers that will be available in the next decade, especially as the U.S. continues to fall behind. When learning is fun, it increases a child’s capacity to absorb and retain knowledge. That’s why we are excited to unveil NanoSpace. Kids are interacting, exploring, and having a great time while learning about atoms and molecules, and they are not even realizing they’re learning.”

This concept of “stealth education” runs through every aspect of the Molecularium Project. …

Almost one year later, it seems the project has been successful with its ‘stealth education’ concept, from a Sept. 25, 2013 news item on Azonano,

Faculty researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were honored for their efforts in developing and creating the NanoSpace website, an online science “theme park” that aims to excite elementary and middle-school students about the world of atoms and molecules.

Rensselaer and NanoSpace received a “2013 Best of the Web” award from the Center for Digital Education, in the category of Higher Education Website.

The Sept. 24, 2013 Rensselaer news release, which originated the news item, describes the agency bestowing the designation,

The Center for Digital Education’s “Best of the Web” awards recognize and honor outstanding education websites. The awards are open to all education institution websites in the United States, including K-12 districts, schools, colleges, universities, teachers, multi-class, parent, and student websites. The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy, and funding.

“Educational institutions are constantly tasked with creating quality websites and applications to deliver services and enhance learning,” said Kim Frame, executive director of the Center for Digital Education. “This year’s winners are cognizant of this challenge and have developed innovative models to increase learning and promote achievement via the use of technology. The center congratulates them for creativity and dedication toward excellence!”

I decided to take a look at the Center for Digital Education and found this on their About the Center webpage,

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. CDE advises the industry, conducts relevant research, issues white papers, and produces premier annual surveys and awards programs. CDE also hosts events for the education community. CDE’s media platform includes the quarterly Center for Digital Education’s Special Reports, centerdigitaled.com, email newsletters and custom publications.

The rest of the page includes links to their sales, research, corporate, etc. divisions. This looks like a ‘for profit’ endeavour and awards like “2013 Best of the Web” are classic public relations ploys. One of  the most spectacular examples of this ploy are the Nobel prizes.

You can go directly to the NanoSpace website here (be prepared to sign up) or you can go diectly to the Molecularium project website to find out more about both.

Canadian science policy conference has started; silver nanoparticles wash off your antibacterial socks

Rob Annan is reporting from the science policy conference taking place in Torontp, Oct. 28-30, 2009. (More info. about the conference here and Rob’s blog here with his comments and links to other commentaries.) From the 2nd keynote speaker’s (Bruce Alberts, scientist and editor-in-chief of Science magazine) speech as Rob reports,

“If you want your government interested in science and technology, send them to China”, he [Alberts] quipped. He pointed out that the Chinese Minister of Health, Chen Zhu, is a world-renowned molecular biologist who is reshaping his country’s health ministry and is employing many of the tools that served him well as a scientist. Alberts suggested that China’s embrace of science and its methods, the number of scientists and engineers in top roles in the Chinese government, and the role science is playing in the emerging Chinese economy, can’t help but convince other countries of its benefits – I’m [Rob Annan] not so sure…

Alberts also argued that to spread science in society, you need to spread scientists. Too few trained scientists – at the PhD level, he argued – enter other areas of society. Only by having trained scientists working as lawyers, journalists, and – especially – in government, can we expect science to play a broader role in society at large.

Alberts seems a bit fevered. I don’t disagree with the principle that it’s a good idea to have people with grounding in both sciences and other specialties. However, there does seem to be an underlying assumption about science and scientists and to make my point I’m going to flip his suggestion. Have the English majors, the social workers, the musicians, the lawyers, etc. take up science so that  society has more of a role in science. I don’t have time today to finish this but I will get back to it tomorrow.

Swiss scientists have published a study about silver nanoparticles being washed off in the laundry. There is a news item here or here.

Friends of the Earth and sunscreens; update on RUSNANO

In a bit of interesting timing given that it’s on the heels of the publication of a study about two tragic deaths which are being attributed to exposure to nanoparticles, the Friends of the Earth (FOE) organization has released a report titled Nano-Sunscreens: Not Worth the Risk.The media release can be found on Azonano or Nanowerk News.

I have read the report (very quickly) and noted that they do not cite or mention the recently released report on the same topic by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which stated that after an extensive review of the literature, there was no evidence that the titanium dioxide or zinc oxide nanoparticles used in sunscreens were dangerous. (posting here).

Shortly after the EWG report’s release, a new study (which I mentioned here … if you are inclined, do read the comments as some additional points about reading research critically are brought out)  suggested concerns based on the work of researchers in Japan.  The new study from Japan is cited in the Friends of the Earth report.

While the overall tone of the FOE report is fairly mild (they suggest precaution) they cite only a few studies supporting their concern and they damage their credibility (in my book) by ignoring a report from a well respected group that reluctantly admitted that there is no real cause for concern about nanoparticles in sunscreens based on the current evidence. FOE didn’t have to agree with the EWG’s conclusions but some counter-argument or discussion suggests that they don’t have a counter-argument or that they will ignore any opinions, and in the EWG case it’s based on evidence, contrary to their own.

More about this tomorrow when I tie it into science literacy, critical thinking, affect (feelings), and values.

Meanwhile, RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) has announced $1.25B US  (40billion rubles) of investment will be approved this year. I blogged (here) about RUSNANO when their executives visited Canada with an eye to investing in Canadian nanotechnology companies. I will be eagerly waiting to find out if RUSNANO has followed up with investments in Canadian nanotechnology.