March 2010
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Guest post: Science ladies—make noise!

An unusual post today. Instead of me being my usual pedantic self on some strange use of statistics, I’m posting a tribute to Ada Lovelace and women in science, penned by my friend, science enthusiast and accordion player extraoirdinaire, Laura Howes. In addition to the folks that Laura mentions, I’d like to add my own dedication: to my mother, computer programmer and physicist at Cambridge from the days when programs were written on punched tape, and bugs had to be cut out and bug-fixes respliced back in using scissors and glue. And also because I missed Mother’s Day earlier this month (oops).

Anyway, Laura, it’s over to you.

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It’s Ada Lovelace day, and the blogosphere is going nuts for female scientists. Everyone’s picking their favourite, and there are some great suggestions getting pledged. Ada Lovelace is a great example of a woman making great contributions for science before women were really accepted in that sphere. Maybe it’s sad that we’re still struggling with that hangover today.

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Facebook, Twitter, Mashable, purchasing decisions and some dreadful statistics

Social media news website Mashable announced yesterday that Facebook and Twitter [are] making a major impact on purchasing decisions. A blog for Econsultancy, a social media marketing website, were even more specific: People who follow brands in social media are much more likely to shop with them in the real world (this was toned down somewhat from the original “twice as likely”). And what’s more, they had some lovely statistics to prove it. These came from a study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies. Or rather, they came straight out of the press release. Quite how these data actually support the grandiose headline statements is beyond me.

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Homeopathy: Ben Goldacre, Hans Schrauder and… The Buzzer

The recent damning conclusions from the House of Commons Evidence Check on homeopathy, calling for NHS funding for the prescribing of homeopathic remedies to be stopped, has thrown homeopathy into the news again. And, of course, the media spotlight carries with it the utterly idiotic approach of bringing “both sides” of the argument as though, in every argument, the two sides have equal intellectual weight supporting them.

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