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Stories by Janet D. Stemwedel

The Sciences

Getting scientists to take ethics seriously: strategies that are probably doomed to failure.

As part of my day-job as a philosophy professor, I regularly teach a semester-long "Ethics in Science" course at my university. Among other things, the course is intended to help science majors figure out why being ethical might matter to them if they continue on their path to becoming working scientists and devote their careers to the knowledge-building biz.And, there's a reasonable chance that my "Ethics in Science" course wouldn't exist but for strings attached to training grants from federal funding agencies requiring that students funded by these training grants receive ethics training.The funding agencies demand the ethics training component largely in response to high profile cases of federally funded scientists behaving badly on the public's dime...

August 31, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel
The Sciences

Movie review: Strange Culture.

The other day I was looking for a movie I could watch with instant streaming that featured Josh Kornbluth* and I came upon Strange Culture . Strange Culture is a documentary about the arrest of artist and SUNY-Buffalo professor of art history Steve Kurtz on charges of bioterrorism, mail fraud, and wire fraud in 2004 after the death of his wife, Hope.At the time Strange Culture was released in 2007, the legal case against Steve Kurtz (and against University of Pittsburgh professor of genetics Robert Ferrell) was ongoing, so the documentary uses actors to interpret events in the case about which Kurtz could not speak on advice of counsel, as well as the usual news footage and interviews of people in the case who were able to talk freely...

July 31, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel
The Sciences

Is how to engage with the crackpot at the scientific meeting an ethical question?

There's scientific knowledge. There are the dedicated scientists who make it, whether laboring in laboratories or in the fields, fretting over data analysis, refereeing each other's manuscripts or second-guessing themselves.And, well, there are some crackpots.I'm not talking dancing-on-the-edge-of-the-paradigm folks, nor cheaters who seem to be on a quest for fame or profit...

May 31, 2012 — Janet D. Stemwedel
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