What is science writing (and science)?

“The best science writers learn that science is not a procession of facts and breakthroughs, but an erratic stumble toward gradually diminished uncertainty; that peer-reviewed publications are not gospel and even prestigious journals are polluted by nonsense; and that the scientific endeavor is plagued by all-too-human failings such as hubris. …

“Science is undoubtedly political, whether scientists want it to be or not, because it is an inextricably human enterprise. It belongs to society. It is interleaved with society. It is of society. …

“Science is often caricatured as a purely empirical and objective pursuit. But in reality, a scientist’s interpretation of the world is influenced by the data she collects, which are influenced by the experiments she designs, which are influenced by the questions she thinks to ask, which are influenced by her identity, her values, her predecessors, and her imagination.”

The pandemic made it clear that science touches everything, and everything touches science.

No wonder there’s a market for them

BALTIMORE?A new study released Friday by researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed that the novel coronavirus Covid-19 was frequently fooled by fake vaccine cards. ?We found that when presented with a counterfeit vaccination card, Covid-19 was unable to distinguish it from the real thing approximately 7 out of?

The sooner the better

From the New York Times: “The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be safe and highly effective in young children aged 5 to 11 years, the companies announced early Monday morning. The news should help ease months of anxiety among parents and teachers about when children, and their close contacts, might be shielded from the coronavirus.

“The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic.

“Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine in these children. If the regulatory review goes as smoothly as it did for older children and adults, millions of elementary school students could be inoculated before Halloween.”

Unfortunately (my son turns three next month): “Trial results for children younger than 5 are not expected till the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest, according to Dr. Bill Gruber, a senior vice president at Pfizer and a pediatrician.”

Hostels struggle to survive in pandemic

From the NYT: “But travel has dramatically changed, and hostels, the backbone of affordable travel, barely survived. The future for many is uncertain. Hostels — the majority of which are small businesses — are built on community and camaraderie, places where people go from introducing themselves to sharing meals and beers or planning the next leg of their journeys together. They are a petri dish for friendships, but in a global pandemic, there was concern they could also be a petri dish for Covid-19. Border restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing were particularly devastating. And the challenges are not yet over: The more contagious Delta variant brings uncertainty for the fall travel season. …

“A rise in domestic travelers or assistance from government programs has helped hostels scrape by. But owners and managers have had to rethink their operating strategies, from launching bagel businesses to renting dorm rooms for group bookings only or creating office spaces. Many cling to the belief that hostels play a vital role in the travel ecosystem — an inexpensive way visit new cities and make friends while doing it — one, they say, not even a pandemic can eliminate.”

Time is short and the clock is ticking

“Our collective tendency is to wait until big problems become catastrophic before dealing with them. Most of the time we’d rather not pay attention. We have all we can do to make a living, bring up our kids decently, save a bit for retirement, hopefully have a bit of fun along the way. We assume others will take care of the biggest threats. …

“Americans speak a lot about ‘revolution’. We’re a nation born of revolution. What we don’t talk about enough is a revolution in our thinking and behavior – realizing that we are not above and outside the natural world but part of it, that we cannot continue to exploit and plunder for profit, that there is something called the common good that requires personal sacrifice, and that those of us who are better off have a moral duty to sacrifice the most.”

A simple breakfast with a friend presented a serious dilemma and pointed to both the need and precedent for action