Baby Blues: Setbacks in Developing Male Contraceptives

#menaresofragile. Amused, I clicked the hashtag and learned that a clinical trial for TU NET-EN, an injectable male contraceptive, had been cancelled due to “intolerable side effects.” As I looked around the Internet that day, I saw that the hashtag reflected widespread outrage among women: we have had to stomach the unpleasant side effects of hormonal contraceptives for decades, and now an entire study is down the tubes because men can’t handle a little bit of acne? Continue reading Baby Blues: Setbacks in Developing Male Contraceptives

Failure to Communicate, Part 2: Primary School

Misinterpretation and poor presentation of scientific research interferes with decisions about healthcare, policy, and lifestyle. In part one of this two-part series, we took a look at how scientists can help bridge the gap in communicating scientific findings to the general public through respectful discourse. However, better scientific communication is a short-term solution. It might result in a slight increase in general scientific literacy, but it depends on a public receptive to open, non-judgmental conversation on contentious topics. It’s like building half a bridge and leaving the other half unfinished… Continue reading Failure to Communicate, Part 2: Primary School

Failure to Communicate, Part 1: Words can Never Hurt Me

The chair squeaked quietly as I fidgeted, swiveling left, right, left. I sat toward the back of a long wooden table flanked by my fellow graduate students, while a pair of eminent biologists led a discussion on how to talk to skeptical non-scientists about evolution. Perhaps it was an intrinsic bias instilled by our families, or a side-effect of years spent steeping in the world of science; whatever the case, as we sat in that conference room we discussed those who dared to disbelieve as if they were at best misguided lambs to be converted and at worst heretical fanatics, frothing at the mouth and waving crosses wildly to fend off fish with feet… Continue reading Failure to Communicate, Part 1: Words can Never Hurt Me

Finding the Fountain of Youth

For thousands of years, explorers, adventurers, and conquerors have searched for the “fountain of youth,” a magical spring that grants longevity to those who drink from it. Today, the search continues, now led by explorers of a different kind — research scientists. Although modern scientists use pipettes rather than compasses, the popular field of anti-aging research resembles the quest for the fountain in its obsessive motivation to increase lifespan… Continue reading Finding the Fountain of Youth

The Reality of Brain Trauma in Sports

Recently, concern about the long-term effects of head trauma related to contact sports has skyrocketed. At the center of the controversy are the rising number of former football players suffering from a neurodegenerative condition and the National Football League (NFL), which has largely denied any link between football and degenerative disease. Numerous stories have been written about the tragic deaths of former athletes, and Will Smith starred in a film about the forensic pathologist who first identified abnormalities in a former NFL player’s brain. As media attention increases, the underlying biology is rarely the focus. Reporting is rarely neutral — any head injury is either a sure path to lifelong distress or there is no reason to believe any link at all exists. The reality, however, is murkier… Continue reading The Reality of Brain Trauma in Sports

Good Intentions Can’t Hide Bad Science

It’s bad when a philanthropic organization uses bad science to justify their means, but it’s dangerous when bad science misdirects policy. I’m sure many good people work in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. People with good intentions and scientific reasoning. I’m confident these groups are overlapping and good-willed scientists are carrying out the mission of the Gates Foundation “to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” I’m sure there was good will, but good reasoning was nowhere to be found when this image was posted on their Facebook page… Continue reading Good Intentions Can’t Hide Bad Science