Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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Substituting for ‘crazy’

As I’m sure I’ve argued before, words really do matter in some contexts. They both reflect and define our realities, and can indicate to each other what we feel and think about things, as well as what’s acceptable in groups.

People might now switch off because “omg the PC police” but, try replacing “political correctness gone mad” with “people would like respect” and see how things look…

booksinsane

Yeah, no, it really isn’t

Today’s subject is the increased use of terms that usually reference mental ill-health being substituted for descriptors of the unusual and notable like baffling, unconscionable, inexplicable, astonishing, amazing, awesome, fantastic, brilliant, shocking, clever, super, awful, despicable, outrageous, indefensible, unfair – and many more besides; I am (sadly) not a thesaurus.

That’s a big range of stuff to throw words like crazy, insane, mad, batshit or mentally ill at. I think it’s more common in America (especially insane) but seems fairly ubiquitous now, especially in clickbait headlines (a root of many ills).

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On being a “digital academic”

It's me

It’s me

A colleague asked me why I “left science” last year. I don’t really feel like I have; my dayjob involves writing about the amazing research and related goings-on at the place where I completed my PhD. I still feel connected to science; I’m just not at the bench.

Perhaps I’m lying to myself, but I’ll run with it.

While I may not be a practicing academic, many friends and colleagues are. As I now (and, for the last 15-odd years, always have) spend a lot of time online and with social networking, I watched a Google Hangout that was run by jobs.ac.uk today: Being a successful Digital Academic.

People often fear social networks, but I’ve defended them before and will continue to do so. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now without this blog, Twitter and the time I’ve spent on them, as well as the people I’ve met through them.

The hangout contained lots of useful tips for academics who are or might want to venture into the world of online chat, promotion and networking. You can find my notes here on Google Docs and the Piirus blog, too. Continue reading


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Cancer selfie-awareness

I have to write about this, following some discussions.

I’ll start by saying that I obviously don’t have a problem with the concept of fundraising for cancer charities (having researched in a few places, now working at one and, y’know, being a human being). I’m not saying everyone who did it has missed the point, or shouldn’t have participated. I find the subject interesting; personally and professionally.

The questions I want to raise are generally more academic:

What is awareness? How effective are these campaigns/memes? What are the negatives, and do they matter?

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Healthy Evidence Forum

AskforEvidenceNHSchoicesSense About Science have launched a new discussion forum today, called Healthy Evidence:

“We are very pleased to tell you that NHS Choices Behind the Headlines have asked us to partner with them on a new online forum to help people understand the science behind health claims and connect them with expertise. Healthy Evidence is launched today. Join the community here.”

The more people that join and share their insights into the science behind health reporting, the better the resource could become. Collating useful sources can help people judge which information is beneficial rather than bogus, and what’s likely or dubious.

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Science is Vital 2013

Screen shot 2012-09-14 at 10.43.55Last week was the second Science is Vital AGM!

What’s been happening?

It’s been a strange year for many of us, including the SiV team, but without getting all personal, we hope to be more active in the coming year, trying to address the threatened cuts to the science budget.

Dr Jenny Rohn (chair) began the meeting with a re-cap of the last year.

Some action points from last year could be picked up, including trying to get some local MPs to visit labs. But it has also been a good year; in the 2012 meeting the decision was made to focus on science funding and trying to influence decisions.

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Ask for Evidence – Miracle Cures

Sense About Science have  been running a campaign called Ask for Evidence, which has gained plenty of support since its launch.Ask for Evidence

The idea is that by encouraging people to challenge claims made about products, services, lifestyle choices and policies:
– the public could feel empowered to question claims they see in future
– people and companies should expect to be asked to back up their claims
and, ultimately:
– we should start to see fewer false/dangerous/baseless claims.

Examples of what exactly people have asked for evidence of can be found here.

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FBrape campaign

fc-webicon-facebook

On May 21st 2013, the Women, Action  & the Media group wrote an open letter to Facebook, which was signed by over 100 advocacy groups, asking them to review their policies on permitted content.

Background

There has long been a problem on the site. While its “community standards” seem to be fairly clear:

Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech*. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

Facebook does not tolerate bullying or harassment.

Sharing any graphic content for sadistic pleasure is prohibited.

Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

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