Connexions Resource Centre
Focus on Science and Technology
Recent & Selected Articles
- This is a small sampling of articles related to education and children in the Connexions Online Library. For more articles, books, films, and other resources, check the Connexions Library Subject Index, especially under topics such as
- Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More (May 16, 2016)
So I'm a skeptic, but with a small S, not capital S. I dont belong to skeptical societies. I dont hang out with people who self-identify as capital-S Skeptics. Or Atheists. Or Rationalists. When people like this get together, they become tribal. They pat each other on the back and tell each other how smart they are compared to those outside the tribe. But belonging to a tribe often makes you dumber.
- God's Red Pencil? CRISPR and The Three Myths of Precise Genome Editing (April 27, 2016)
For the last seventy years all chemical and biological technologies, from genetic engineering to pesticides, have been built on a myth of precision and specificity. They have all been adopted under the pretense that they would function without side effects or unexpected complications. Yet the extraordinary disasters and repercussions of DDT, leaded paint, agent orange, atrazine, C8, asbestos, chlordane, PCBs, and so on, when all is said and done, have been stories of the steady unraveling of a founding myth of precision and specificity. Nevertheless, with the help of industry propagandists, their friends in the media, even the United Nations, we are once again being preached the gospel of precision. But no matter how you look at it, precision is a fable and should be treated as such.
- "Lies, Lies and More Lies" - GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants (February 5, 2016)
As as been well documented, it is the pro-GMO lobby/industry that distorts and censors science, captures regulatory bodies, attacks scientists whose findings are unpalatable to the industry and bypasses proper scientific and regulatory procedures altogether.
- Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market (November 21, 2015)
Scientists are trained to express themselves rationally. They avoid personal attacks when they disagree. But some scientific arguments become so polarized that tempers fray.
- Neoliberal Ebola: The Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak (July 27, 2015)
Wallace describes the rise of Ebola, connecting its outbreak to capital-driven shifts in land and changes in the agroeconomic context.
- Obama Administration Muzzling Its Scientists (December 11, 2014)
Muzzling of scientists matters because they make policy decisions with real-world impacts on society.
- Researcher loses job at NSF after government questions her role as 1980s activist (September 10, 2014)
Valerie Barr was 22 and living in New York City in 1979 when she became politically active. A recent graduate of New York University with a masters degree in computer science, Barr handed out leaflets, stood behind tables at rallies, and baked cookies to support two left-wing groups, the Womens Committee Against Genocide and the New Movement in Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence. Despite her passion for those issues, she had a full-time job as a software developer that took precedence.
- Pesticide safety research shouldn't be left to the pesticide companies (July 30, 2014)
Pesticide companies are responsible for assessing the safety of their products - and this situation cannot continue. The research should be carried out independently, subjected to peer review, and published.
- Canada's Science Library Closures Mirror Bush's Playbook (January 9, 2014)
The Harper government is now eliminating seven Department of Fishery libraries containing one of the world's most comprehensive collections of information on fisheries, aquatic sciences and nautical sciences.
- Fakethrough! GMOs and the Capitulation of Science Journalism (January 8, 2014)
Good journalism examines its sources critically, it takes nothing at face value, places its topics in a historical context, and it values above all the public interest. Such journalism is, most people agree, essential to any equitable and open system of government. The science media has somehow escaped serious attention. This is unfortunate because no country in the world has a healthy science media.
- Eric Marshall laments closure of namesake Fisheries library (January 6, 2014)
The government seems to be saying 'We want to exploit our natural resources, whether it's natural gas or oil sands, and basically to heck with environmental impacts.'
- Secret Memo Casts Doubt on Feds' Claims for Science Library Closures (December 30, 2013)
A federal document marked "secret" obtained by Postmedia News indicates the closure or destruction of more than half a dozen world famous science libraries has little if anything to do with digitizing books as claimed by the Harper government.
- What's Driving Chaotic Dismantling of Canada's Science Libraries? (December 23, 2013)
Scientists say the closure of some of the world's finest fishery, ocean and environmental libraries by the Harper government has been so chaotic that irreplaceable collections of intellectual capital built by Canadian taxpayers for future generations has been lost forever. Many collections ended up in dumpsters while others such as Winnipeg's historic Freshwater Institute library were scavenged by citizens, scientists and local environmental consultants. Others were burned or went to landfills.
- Dismantling of Fishery Library 'Like a Book Burning,' Say Scientists (December 9, 2013)
The Harper government has dismantled one of the world's top aquatic and fishery libraries as part of its agenda to reduce government as well as limit the role of environmental science in policy decision-making.
- Retracting Séralini Study Violates Science and Ethics (December 4, 2013)
Giles-Eric Séralini, a professor of molecular biology at Caen University, led a toxicological study on GM maize and the Roundup herbicide which found an alarming increase in early death, large tumours including cancers, and diseases of the liver and kidney. What followed was a concerted worldwide campaign to discredit the findings.
- Connexions Archive Case Statement (September 24, 2011)
Working together to secure a future for the past
- Academics Urge Government Climate Action (December 17, 2009)
More than 500 university faculty members from universities across Canada signed a letter to the Canadian Government calling for immediate drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The letter points out the time frame of reductions is critical.
- Rampaging Climate Deniers' Losing Battle (December 8, 2009)
Because of the flimsy comprehension of science and evolution of most writers in the mass media, those who venture to write about evolution feel constrained to present "alternative" views. But "alternative" views are not necessarily credible or true. The cliimate change deniers' arguments are no less articles of faith than those of the creationists. In the case of the former, the faith is not in a god but in the free market and capitalism. Almost without exception, those who are in staunch denial are those connected to, involved in or supportive of the traditional capitalist model of economic growth, and by implication opposed to anything that might constrain this model.
- Seven Answers To Climate Contrarian Nonsense (November 30, 2009)
Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those deny climate change are commonly referred to as contrarians, naysayers and denialists. Not everyone who questions climate change science fits that description, of course - some people are genuinely unaware of the facts or honestly disagree about their interpretation. What distinguishes the true naysayers is an unwavering dedication to denying the need for action on the problem, often with weak and long-disproved arguments about supposed weaknesses in the science behind global warming.
- Connexions Archive seeks a new home (November 18, 2009)
The Connexions Archive, a Toronto-based library dedicated to preserving the history of grassroots movements for social change, needs a new home.
- An Annotated Bibliography of Nonsense (August 5, 2008)
Academic critics today not only question the impact of science upon society, but they also question the very idea of scientific rationality.
- Model scientists (2008)
In contrast to the plethora of day-to-day conversations on how to fit into the
administrators directives, this essay provides a historical context, particularly though its extensive bibliography, to encourage today's biologists to question authority and question nature.
- Who owns knowledge? (September 21, 2007)
The resurgence of a Romantic view of culture poses a real menace to the free flow of knowledge and threatens to corral it into intellectual Bantustans. The ideas of free speech and open debate become meaningless if we fail to defend a universalist concept of knowledge or if we accept the notion of science as but a local view whose factual claims must defer to cultural and political needs. If scientific debate is constrained to express only sentiments with which people feel comfortable, culturally and politically, then science dies as the line between knowledge and myth becomes eroded.
- In Defence of Sex and Science: Review of Kinsey (2005)
A review of the film "Kinsey".
- Judging Authority (January 1, 2004)
We are often required to accept the word of another person, but how can we best judge whether or not that person is a legitimate authority?
- The Laws of Nature (2000)
- Postmodern Disrobed (1998)
An admirable job of exposing the daffy absurdity of postmodernism intellectuals.
- Remembering Dangerously (March 1, 1995)
Like the witch-hunt trials of old, people today are being accused and even imprisoned on 'evidence' provided by memories from dreams and flashbacks -- memories that didn't exist before therapy.
- Chomsky on Post-Modernism (1995)
What I find in the writings of the post-modernists is extremely pretentious, but on examination, a lot of it is simply illiterate, based on extraordinary misreading of texts that I know well (sometimes, that I have written), argument that is appalling in its casual lack of elementary self-criticism, lots of statements that are trivial (though dressed up in complicated verbiage) or false; and a good deal of plain gibberish.
- Rationality/Science (1995)
Chomsky writes: "It strikes me as remarkable that the left today should seek to deprive oppressed people not only of the joys of understanding and insight, but also of tools of emancipation, informing us that the "project of the Enlightenment" is dead, that we must abandon the "illusions" of science and rationality--a message that will gladden the hearts of the powerful, delighted to monopolize these instruments for their own use."
- The Renaissance and Rationality (1995)
- Marxism and the Critique of Scientific Ideology (1992)
- Bookchin on Technology (1978)
Murray Bookchin's arguments for a liberatory technology.
Selected Websites and Organizations
- This is a small sampling of organizations and websites concerned with education and children in the Connexions Directory. For more organizations and websites, check the Connexions Directory Subject Index, especially under topics such as
Books, Films and Periodicals
- This is a small sampling of books related to education and children in the
Connexions Online Library. For more books and other resources, check the Connexions Library
Subject Index, especially under topics such as
- Altered Genes, Twisted Truth
How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public
Author: Drucker, Steven M.
Drucker elucidates the scientific facts about genetically engineered foods that the PR myths have been obscuring.
- The Anatomy of Judgment
Author: Regal, Philip J.
Tracing the emergence of science and the social institutions that govern it, The Anatomy of Judgment is an odyssey into what human thinking or judgment mean.
- Bold Scientists
Dispatches from the Battle for Honest Science
Author: Riordon, Michael
Accounts of scientists working in the public interest despite powerful opposition.
- Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science
Author: Sokal, Alan; Bricmont, Jean
The authors criticize postmodernism in academia for its misuses of scientific and mathematical concepts in postmodern writing. Fashionable Nonsense examines two related topics: (1) The incompetent and pretentious usage of scientific concepts by a small group of influential philosophers and intellectuals; (2) the problems of cognitive relativism, the idea that "modern science is nothing more than a 'myth', a 'narration' or a 'social construction' among many others". The stated goal of the book is not to attack "philosophy, the humanities or the social sciences in general...[but] to warn those who work in them (especially students) against some manifest cases of charlatanism," and in particular to "deconstruct" the notion that some books and writers are difficult because they deal with profound and difficult ideas. "If the texts seem incomprehensible, it is for the excellent reason that they mean precisely nothing." The book includes long extracts from the works of Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Luce Irigaray, Bruno Latour, and Jean Baudrillard who are considered by some to be leading academics of Continental philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis or social sciences. Sokal and Bricmont set out to show how those intellectuals have used concepts from the physical sciences and mathematics incorrectly. The extracts are intentionally rather long to avoid accusations of taking sentences out of context.
Published in French as Impostures Intellectuelles and in the United Kingdom as Intellectual Impostures.
- Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science
Author: Gross, Paul; Levitt, Norman
Describes attacks on science, and on concepts of truth and rationality, in areas of the humanities.
- Man, Beast and Zombie
What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature
Author: Malik, Kenan
Drawing upon the ideas of evolutionary biology, cognitive science and artificial intelligence, Malik questions many of our assumptions about human nature.
- The No-Nonsense Guide to Science
Author: Ravetz, Jeromo
- Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter - April 23, 2016
Science and its enemies
Author: Diemer, Ulli (ed.)
Our society and its institutions, public and private, regularly tell us that science, and education in the sciences, are crucial to our future. These public declarations are strangely reminiscent of the equally sincere lip service they pay to the ideals of democracy. And, in the same way that governments and private corporations devote considerable efforts to undermining the reality of democracy, so too they are frequently found trying to block and subvert science when the evidence it produces runs counter to their interests. Real live scientists doing real live science, it seems, are not nearly as loveable as Science in the abstract.
- A People's History of Science
Author: Connor, Clifford
Connor focuses on the contributions of ordinary people living in ordinary times and the social and political history in which they lived. Spanning the time from the hunter-gatherers to the information highway and pharmaceuticals it can be divided into 3 broad sections: the years before the "scientific revolution", the years of that actual revolution and its modern consequence. For Connor scientific progress is the synthesis between the empirical hands on knowledge of the craftmen, labourers and tradesman and the intellectual thinker-knowledge that is both wide and deep.
- Silence of the Labs
Scientists across the country are expressing growing alarm that federal cutbacks to research programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health will deprive Canadians of crucial information.
- The War on Science
Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada
Author: Turner, Chris
Do No Science, Hear No Science, Speak No Science -- that is the Harper agenda. And if this agenda is most evident and most pronounced in environmental science, that's simply because it is the field most likely to uncover evidence that the government's paramount goal -- to free the country's resource extraction industries from oversight in the name of rapid expansion -- is wrongheaded, reckless, and damaging.
Learning from our History
Resources for Activists
The Connexions Calendar - An event calendar for activists.
Media Names & Numbers - A comprehensive directory of Canada's print and broadcast media. (CX5857).
Sources - A directory that enables journalists to find spokespersons of organizations. Organizations that list themselves in Sources signficantly increase their odds of getting called by reporters when they are doing a story of their issues..
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