Tag Archives: science

Around the Web

Gender and the Academe

Commanding positions by Jessica Shepherd

Shepherd reports on how some UK universities have opened doors for women to acquire administrative positions. Universities such as Oxford Brookes University and University of Winchester are one step ahead the gender equality ladder as they admit female chancellors, vice chancellors and other administrative offices. Shepherd also points out that women usually put off applying for an administrative office until they get better accomplishments. On the other hand, men are more of risk-takers when it comes to applying for a position.

In 2006, 42% of senior management posts in UK universities were held by women, while in 2003, 28% were, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. It might not be by much, but the percentage of professors who are female has also nudged ahead from 15% in 2003 to 17.5% in 2006. And it is the new universities, in particular the post-92s such as Oxford Brookes, that are leading the change.

Science, Technology and Society

Moral Machines by Gary Marcus

Driver-less cars may be what we see in the streets soon enough. But given a difficult situation, will this machine do the “right” thing?

Building machines with a conscience is a big job, and one that will require the coordinated efforts of philosophers, computer scientists, legislators, and lawyers. And, as Colin Allen, a pioneer in machine ethics put it, “We don’t want to get to the point where we should have had this discussion twenty years ago.” As machines become faster, more intelligent, and more powerful, the need to endow them with a sense of morality becomes more and more urgent.

Science (Or Pseudo-science?)

Piltdown Man and other phantom species by Rebekah Higgitt

Higgitt lists down the hoaxes that once entered the intellectual bank of human evolution.

Although the specimens were forgeries, the fact that they were named, illustrated, published and discussed meant that the species nevertheless achieved some sort of existence, at least for several decades. It feels a little as if there should be some sort of limbo, perhaps similar to the place that ballpoint pens and odd socks go, reserved for these phantom species.

Anthropology and the Academe

Maverick anthropologist’s memoir sparks fresh row over ancient Yanomami tribe by Paul Harris

(Image via The Guardian)

Controversy erupts (again) as the legendary Napoleon Chagnon publishes his book, Noble Savages. If you’re not familiar with Chagnon, refer to one of our previous posts here

Around the Web

It’s another week of very relevant topics around the internet.

Politics and Society

Where are they? (Image via Franz DG)

Gone Tomorrow: The Vanishing Voices of Democracy in the Philippines by Michael Mira

I was a first year student in the University of the Philippines Diliman when news broke out that two UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan were reported missing. The case of the “disappeared” was rekindled as many from the left were reported missing. Enforced disappearances were also the stuff of conversations until a few years ago. Indeed, if we really consider ourselves to be a democratic country, then why do these things happen? As Mira said,

A true democratic nation should guard freedom of speech, no matter who it is that utters their opinion.

The Scientific Community

Academic paywalls mean publish and perish by Sarah Kendzior

Studying and eventually teaching in a so-called third world country (or as others would call it, developing country), I have faced the problem of acquiring academic articles more often than not. Publishers require $20 per article and around $40 per book. Tough luck. But anthropologist Kendzior talks about how we’re building elitism in the academe instead of sharing our knowledge to the public who is supposed to be at the receiving end of our research endeavors. The pricey amount for knowledge also marginalizes those who are from non-first world countries to obtain up-to-date and relevant studies. These all end up to one thing: only a limited number gets to read published materials. Kendzior writes,

“Publish or perish” has long been an academic maxim. In the digital economy, “publish and perish” may be a more apt summation. What academics gain in professional security, they lose in public relevance, a sad fate for those who want their research appreciated and understood.

Sociology

The Rationality of Irrationality by Peter Kaufman

Modernism has changed us in so many ways as people moved from the villages to the cities. We are all alienated with one another and everything needs to be speedy. This is because speedy and efficiency is the “rational” thing to do work, and rationalism is the forte of modernism. As my professor once said, “everything is touch-and-go”. Face-to-face interactions are done in split second. When you’ve finished getting your order, you have to leave the counter immediately. This is what sociologists call McDonaldization. However, irrationality might be the better way to live on this planet. Kaufman draws an example through Community Supported Agriculture.

CSA’s are really the antithesis of McDonaldized systems. I don’t know what varieties or how much food I will get each season because it all depends on unpredictable forces (namely, the weather). When I pick up the food it is not cleaned, there may be signs that bugs had a few nibbles before it was picked (not to mention the occasional bug that is still there), and the produce may not even be in recognizable shapes. There are also vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers that I can pick myself each week thereby reversing the McDonaldized trend to replace human efforts with non-human technology.

Anthropology

Anthropology and the Assault on Common Sense: Critical Thinking About Being Human Is a Useful Hobby by Agustin Fuentes

Even Albert Einstein questioned the reliability of common sense. Many scientists have many times told us that our organs can lie. Thus, science was created to decrease the errors our organs make. Fuentes, in his Huffington Post article, calls for us to be critical and not to be complacent in what we think is the “truth” — because that “truth” is not absolute. It is enfeebled by our culture, our history, our nature and our biology — or as Fuentes says, or “naturenurture”. We always have to question. We always have to think.

 But we all have to realize, and accept, that the process of becoming and being human is messy, and it takes a lot of work to try to direct your own path in life. One must be an active learner and a critical thinker, always.

Around the Web

by Kert

Here’s a round-up of interesting things I’ve dug up in the bowels of internet:

Anthropology:

Anthropology is the worst college major for being a corporate tool, best major to change your life (Living Anthropologically) —

Anthropologist Jason Antrosio talks about how Anthropology is beyond cashing in and more about gaining knowledge and learning life. It’s not always about the money. But if you’re really keen about money, Anthropology can just be as competitive as other courses in the employment market.

Politics:

Dynasties threat to democracy (Philippine Daily Inquirer)–

Philippine politics has been marred by political dynasties since time immemorial. This political system is ephemeral and renders Philippine society unstable. Prof. Jose Abueva discusses this very pressing issue in Philippine politics.

Neuroscience:

An Interview with John Cacioppo: The Science of Loneliness (Being Human)–

Dr. John Cacioppo talks about loneliness in an interview. He discusses the roots of loneliness, its nature and how it may be prevented.

Biology:

Last life on Earth: microbes will rule the far future (NewScientist) —

Scientists say that 2.8 billion years from now, when the entire human race have disappeared, only microbes will remain — that is until the sun dies out. However, scientists give a positive response about the possibility of life outside Earth.

 

This is the way the world ends <i>(Image: Jjguisado/Flickr/Getty)</i>(Image via NewScientist)