Friday Night Report from ScienceOnline10

Due to the luck of my local I again have the distinct pleasure of attending the ScienceOnline un conference. This is apparently the 4th year of the meeting, three of which OpenHelix has attended (both in person and virtually). Tonight was the kickoff event – dinner and a speaker at the RTP headquarters. For anyone who isn’t familiar with RTP, it stands for Research Triangle Park and it is a research collaboration/region in North Carolina. I have heard figures that this region is third in the nation (behind only San Fransisco & Boston) for volume of research. Our hosts did a nice job, the food & drink was pleasant & the venue allowed for extensive & enthusiastic mixing & conversing.

I heard a lot of good things about the pre-conference workshops – I should have arranged my schedule better so that I could have attended them. I guess there were a few wifi issues, but the people that I spoke to said most sessions were either well documented ahead of time, or were being well tweeted during. Anton said that tomorrow’s sessions will have wifi from the same guys doing the superbowl (I think) so there should be no troubles.

Tonight’s speaker was Michael Specter, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of the book, “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives”. It was a good and amusing talk, and largely preached to the converted. I took his main point to be “use your head & help others to do the same. Most issues have two sides, if not 7 or 10 sides. But just because you don’t get it, or don’t like it, that’s not a reason to deny it exists”. According to him, a lot of people vilify him for what is & isn’t in the book. I haven’t read it so I can’t say, but I do agree that scientist need to get more involved in the conversation (we’ve posted on that before), and that science education should be good. I of course believe in education – it is what OpenHelix was founded to do!

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EDIT from Mary: the twitter feed from the #scio10 tag is excellent.  And reports are the recordings will be up Monday. We’ll link to them in subsequent posts.