Speaking of Science

August 2015's selection of notable quotes

Aug 1, 2015
The Scientist Staff

HOLY HELL: Pope Francis has offered the strongest warning yet from the Vatican concerning climate change.© ISTOCK.COM/JIMMYJAMESBOND

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, in a recent papal encyclical letter (June 18)

 

I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or from my pope. . . . I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.

—GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, commenting on Pope Francis's encyclical warning of the real threat of climate change just prior to its official release (June 17)

 

If we hadn't had massive cuts to [the National Institutes of Health] we probably would have a vaccine for Ebola.

—Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), architect of the "21st Century Cures" bill, which would increase NIH funding , quoting NIH Director Francis Collins (The New York Times, July 10)

 

Although differing perspectives on the irreproducibility rate in preclinical research may persist, one fact remains clear: the challenge of increasing reproducibility and addressing the costs associated with the lack of reproducibility in life science research is simply too important and costly to ignore.

Leonard Freedman of the Global Biological Standards Institute in Washington, DC, and coauthors, in a recently published PLOS Biology essay (June 9)

 

Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and—when you criticize them—they cry.

—Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt, speaking at a conference in South Korea. The biochemist resigned from posts at University College London, The Royal Society, and the European Research Council after the public uproar over the comments (June 10)

 

Along with many others, I didn't like Sir Tim Hunt's joke, but "disproportionate" would be a huge underestimate of the baying witch-hunt that it unleashed among our academic thought police: nothing less than a feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness.

Richard Dawkins, Oxford University evolutionary biologist and science writer, in a letter to The Times defending
Tim Hunt (June 19)