Cheryl E. Fitzgerald (synapsomatic) wrote,
Cheryl E. Fitzgerald

Evolution, the fall of U.S. life expectancy, and journalists vs. the government

Ya, it's been far too long since I've written anything. For now, I wanted to share one of my new favourite podcasts, and share episodes from two other podcasts because the topics and discussions are deeply fascinating and important.

This Week in Evolution
Admittedly the topics and discussions are very science-heavy and can get rather technical – these are real and practicing scientists after all – but if you have enough background knowledge to follow it and understand both what they're saying and the implications of it, it's great stuff.
I also appreciate that they talk about scientific practice, i.e., what scientists actually do, what it's like working in this or that lab with a team of other scientists, how scientists collaborate with each other, how they get funding, the process of writing up their findings and getting them published, what fieldwork is like, the kind of equipment they use, their methodologies, and perhaps most importantly, when they get things wrong, when they make mistakes, when things turn out very differently from what they expected, etc., and how they proceed forward from that, what they learn from it, what silver linings they find, what new questions are opened, and so on. And of course, much of that is coming from their own personal experiences as scientists. Getting that "side of the story", so to speak, can be very helpful and eye-opening to the rest of us non-scientists to understand science better. (And I use the word "science" there as a catch-all term to include: scientists, scientific practices, scientific research, experiments and studies, scientific findings, scientific publications, scientific hypotheses, scientific theories, scientific claims, scientific knowledge, the applications of scientific findings and scientific knowledge, etc.)

An episode from Vox's The Weeds: Why is U.S. life expectancy falling? Plus, political elites are biased about what they think the general public thinks; and, why pushing for unpopular policy is bad for democracy.
Very thought-provoking stuff there.

An episode from The Intercept's Intercepted: All the news unfit to print: James Risen on his battles with Bush, Obama, and the New York Times
From the intro:
"James Risen is a legend in the world of investigative and national security journalism. As a reporter for the New York Times, Risen broke some of the most important stories of the post 9/11 era, from the warrantless surveillance against Americans conducted under the Bush-Cheney administration, to black prison sites run by the CIA, to failed covert actions in Iran. Risen has won the Pulitzer and other major journalism awards. But perhaps what he is now most famous for is fighting a battle under both the Bush and Obama administrations as they demanded — under threat of imprisonment —the name of one of Risen’s alleged confidential sources. In the end, Risen prevailed and refused to testify and he was not locked up. But during the course of his case, there were rulings that could have far reaching implications for journalists, particularly in a climate where the president of the United States is characterizing news outlets as enemies of the people, contemplating arresting reporters, and is conducting at least 27 leak investigations. All before the end of his first year in office."

But more importantly, think!
Tags: biology, conspiracies, ethics, evolution, health, history, politics, science!
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