Science-ish calls for submissions

Julia Belluz needs suggestions for a 2011 Science-ish roundup


At a time when politicians are casting doubts on evolution theory, large sections of the public seem to have given up on one of the single greatest advances in health sciences of the last century (vaccines), and the Canadian government is telling the world that asbestos is safe to use, the discourse around science may have hit its nadir.

But there is a silver lining: there are more science myths around to explore and, if necessary, debunk.

After six months of writing this column, I’ll do a year-end round up of the most pressing Science-ish debates of 2011, based on your reactions, opinions, and views.

Do you have a burning question about science or a health claim you’ve seen this year that seems dubious? Please write a brief description of the question or claim that most baffles you, and send it to or, on Twitter, at @juliaoftoronto.

The deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, The Medical Post, and the McMaster Health Forum. Julia Belluz is the associate editor at The Medical Post. Got a tip? Seen something that’s Science-ish? Message her at or on Twitter @juliaoftoronto

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Science-ish calls for submissions

  1. Gotta love these Conservatives.

    Nothing needs to be done to the way oil is extracted from the Oil/Tar Sands.  Nobody can challenge the seal hunt.  Asbestos is just fine … especially for all those people over there.  Get rid of the gun registry!

    Next they’ll be saying that the Opposition is standing in the way of Canada’s sarin gas industry …

  2. Let’s discuss the “single” greatest advance in healthcare that has lead to greater longeivity;  improved hygiene!  What leads to the epidemic of nosocomial hospital infections, which cost lives and money…..poor hygiene.   Are we looking at investing in copper surfaces and handless systems in hospitals to counteract poor handwashing?

  3. I wonder if you can dig up some layman-type explanation on cold fusion and the arguments for and against impossibility?  And of course whatever you can glean on this C-something machine that appears to achieve it, impossible or not.

  4. “Canadian government is telling the world that asbestos is safe to use”

    By allowing people to purchase it?

  5. Given that 1) we consume half of our provincial tax dollars in healthcare mostly for frail care and slated to inflate to 75% in the next decade, 2) and that  the ‘fat tail’ of health care is caused by the dreary and bankrupting last 2 years of life,  draining the majority of resources from the system?3) 1/3rd of boomer nurses are retiring in the next 5 years with no identifiable skilled replacements in sight.Why? Why? Why have we not in Canada started the equivalent of a ‘Manhattan style’ innovation effort to encourage workable pilot projects to co-venture with the viable geriatric home care technology,  use of practical nurses as para-geriatric home care specialists, and deploy community focused technologies to come up with affordable solutions?Why does the political system continue to play it safe and stupid. Why do we Canadians continue to do health care in the same  stupid, lethargic and self defeating manner?We Canadians are smart, inventive problem solvers. Why then are our medical and political classes so visionless?

  6. How exactly does Bachmann’s quote from the link about evolution: “I think that all science should be on the table, and wherever science leads that’s where it leads,”  amount to “casting doubts on evolutionary theory”?

    In general, I think the attitude that we should be open to the conclusions of science regardless of whether they fit our preconceived notions is (a) what scientists are supposed to think, and (b) in good keeping with evolutionary theory.

    What good is “Science-ish” going to be if the journalist writing it isn’t going to take care to report accurately rather than injecting her political biases?

      • I appreciate your response.  However, note that that particular article offers exactly one quote from a Republican on the subject of evolution:  Perry stating that the scientific evidence has “gaps in it.”  The writer couldn’t even find a complete sentence to quote that supported her main thesis that the Republican candidates are anti-science.  As to Perry’s sentence-fragment, he is absolutely correct.  Evolutionary theory is on very strong footing scientifically, but there are as-yet unexplained gaps, such as the lack of fossils from certain intermediate species which are deduced to have existed.

        As with science itself, let’s let the facts (and in this case quotations) speak for themselves rather than applying our political views to Science-ish.