Friday, May 3, 2013

Obama Administration's Energy Policy


Since the beginning of his first term in 2008, President Obama and his administration have proposed an energy policy to transform America‘s energy usage and dependence.

The Obama administration’s energy policy aims to improve America’s clean energy economy, end climate change referred to as global warming, and ensure a bright clean energy efficient economy in the future.

 In April of 2010, the Obama administration released the tasks that they plan to do or are currently doing to create a clean energy economy. If all goes according to plan, America will be independent on clean energy within 15 years. In total, the Obama administration’s energy policy calls for nearly $90 billion in investments.

Of these investments are a Smart Grid Investment Grant, greater efficiency standards for appliances, more strict fuel efficiency standards, and a new EPA ruling regarding greenhouse gas emissions by benefactors in the United States. 

Because of America’s $90 billion investments, America has passed both Germany and China in clean energy investments. Theoretically, the Obama administration’s energy policy calls for $90 billion in investments for what is roughly a 20 year period.

In terms of fuel efficiency, the Obama administration plans to double the current fuel efficiency of vehicles. However, said fuel efficiency does not plan to be doubled until 2025. In addition, the Obama administration hopes to increase the amount of hybrid vehicles on the road.

Shelby Edelson, a licensed driver of Pennsylvania, has mixed feelings about the Obama administration’s energy policy.

“I feel like better fuel efficiency in cars is a great idea. Still, 2025 feels like it’s forever away,” Edelson said. “Not to mention, those (hybrid) cars are much more money than the one I have. I don’t know if I’ll be able afford to one,” Edelson said.

Also, the Obama administration is pushing for greater regulations in the domestic energy resources being used. According to the Energy and Commerce Committee, hundreds of middle class jobs are being cut due to increased coal regulations.

The Obama administration’s energy policy also includes increasing the use of domestic natural gas, which is a means of hydro-fracking. Hydro-fracking, America’s most efficient means of extracting natural gas is raising nationwide concern.

Shannon Serafin, a scientifically interested student at Ursinus College, is not a fan of fracking.

“I think I don’t like fracking because it destroys our nature. I know it’s a really good energy source for America, but at what cost? Maybe I’m just a tree-hugger,” Serafin said.

According to a study from the University of Duke, there is a positive correlation with methane contaminated water and hydro-fracking.

However, a study released by the Shale Resources and Society Institute at the University of Buffalo states that the act of hydro-fracking is getting more and more safe. Basing the detrimental effects of hydro-fracking on administrative problems, the peer reviewed study concluded that the fracking industry has great room for improvements.

“If it (fracking) could be regulated more, I’d probably be more of a fan. The main goal is getting energy without hurting the environment,” Serafin said.


Here is a video regarding the Obama Administration's Energy Policy: CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 7, 2013

CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION( Prompt 10)



In a recent article from the Huffington Post, an Italian scientist made the claim that vaccines cause homosexuality. The ridiculousness of said article is at an all time high.

First, this article is poor science writing. As a science writer, much of the article seems to draw red flags. For example, the Italian scientists labels homosexuality as an "illness."  Also, he claims that gay parents' DNA, which was misconstrued from vaccination, is passed down to their children. According to Vanoli, the Italian scientist  mass vaccination is the causation of the increase in gays. Like any wise scientist knows, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.

Also, how credible is this idea of an "increase in gays?" In recent years, homosexuality has become more socially acceptable, resulting in more gays 'coming out of the closet.' With that being said, gays from the 1900s were much less likely to admit their orientation based on the society's negative reaction. Today is a different story. Gays are much more socially accepted in today's society than in the past. Thus, who is to say that there has been an increase in gays over time? I believe there has been a flat rate of gays over the years, but homosexuals were forced to hide.

In fact, studies have shown that without vaccination we face more possible dangers than benefits With that being said, I am willing to take the risk. If vaccinations that prevent chicken pox, small pox, tuberculosis  measles, and yellow fever pose a risk to fall under the merciless "illness" known as homosexuality, I am willing to take my chances.





Article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/01/vaccines-produce-homosexuality-gay-gian-paolo-vanoli_n_2992953.html

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blog 9

    A recent study suggests that Fox News viewers know less about certain issues than viewers of shows such as CNN or "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

    With that being said, Fox News places a huge emphasis on their catch phrase "fair and balanced." So, is a fair and balanced news projection uninformative? Or, does Fox News not stay true to their own "fair and balanced" catch phrase?

    More often than not, people read scientific articles, journals, and watch the news to be told what is "right." On the other hand, not too many viewers would like the decision to be left up to themselves to make, which is why I feel a study suggesting Fox News viewers know less about certain issues in comparison to other news stations was released. I do not think that Fox News viewers are less informed, but they do not have a bias thrust at their face. Both CNN and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," two of the news shows compared to Fox News in said study, project an obvious bias, which leaves people with decisions already made for them. Basically, biased portrayals of the news leave viewers with a concrete view on certain issues whereas a fair and balanced news portrayal will leave viewers' ideas up in the air.

    The goals of CNN and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" are to ensure that their viewers leave with views similar to their own. However, this is not good scientific journalism or news broadcasting. When the spotlight is placed on this issue, it is clear to see the numerous biases portrayed throughout the media. The problem lies in the hands of the viewers. We, as one large audience, need to stand tall. Audiences need to let it be known that we will not stand for biased news and we need to make our own informed and educated decisions regarding our stance on news issues.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prompt 8

Balance?

In any journal, there seems to be clear bias, which is not always a bad thing. However, as a science writer, balance is arguably one of the most important attributes of the actual writing. In fact, that is what separates science journalism than other journalism. Good science writing has a clear balance and portrayal of both sides. On the other hand, there are hundreds of scientific articles with a clear bias. Biases remain in scientific writing because the authors can get away with it. The "average Joe" does not care about the controversy regarding the relationship between HIV and AIDS.

So, the obvious solution is that the average Joe needs to care more about the little things in science. Wrong. As a scientific writer, there are "unwritten rules" that need to be followed like other facets of life. For example, if somebody is closely trailing behind you walking into a building, you are obligated to hold the door for them. Or, when telling a story, you feel obligated to tell the truth. This idea of a set of  "unwritten rules" is apparent in journalism. Writers are obligated to tell the WHOLE story and the entire TRUTH.

Although the definition of "balance" varies from person to person, scientific writers must portray both sides of the story. No matter what strategy needs to be used in order to portray a fair balance, it needs to be done. As humans, however, it is extremely difficult to tell a story without having your own voice heard. Thus, Mooney was right. Balance in scientific journalism is a huge problem and we, as writers and readers, must strive to reach this balance, though it seems unreachable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blog Prompt 7

    The "mad scientist" stereotype lives on. Crazy uncombed white hair, lab coats, and an odd persona are, what we believe to be, general qualities of the average scientist. Then again, can you blame us for making that stereotype? Take Albert Einstein for example. Einstein, one of the most well known scientists in the world, fits nearly the entire stereotype.

    However, as a science writer, this stereotype makes our job hard. The majority of today's scientists do not fit the stereotype. When reading scientific articles and journals regarding topics that are unfamiliar with us, we tend to refer back to that stereotype. When thinking about the mad scientist stereotype, we find ourselves in a state of mistrust. We, as a country, should not have this mistrust in science. Because we think scientists are so different than us, we over look their ideas and tend to rely on more of a gut feeling. Whether our gut feeling is correct or not, we should take scientific evidence and go from there.

    After all, Einstein seemed to know his stuff, right?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Prompt 6

      When it comes to making decisions, your "gut" feeling may not always be right. In regard to science-related decisions, such as the controversial flu shot, I tend to make my decisions based off the majority's rule. This flu season, there were numerous controversies about its side effects and effectiveness. Despite my gut feeling to refuse the shot, I, like the most of America, received the shot and experienced none of the rumored side effects.

     Personally, I will make small decisions, decisions that would not seriously detriment my life if incorrect, with my gut. For example, if the weather man says there is a slight chance of rain, I would debate whether or not I should wear a jacket. On the other hand, I would not risk getting a flu shot if I could face severe harm by not doing so. Basically, I make small decisions in my life based on my gut feeling, whereas more serious decisions are backed with scientific fact.

     When rumors arise, and people go with their gut feeling, it may be due to misleading information. For example, those who believe that this season's flu shot is ineffective and leads to greater risk are ignorant. In this case, there are misleading scientific articles lacking factual proof of the flu shot's ineffectiveness. "Word of mouth" is steering the public in the wrong direction. As a scientific writer, it is unethical to produce any article regarding a serious matter that is not completely true. As a scientific writer, it is an obligation to inform the public of the entire truth, rather than your own personal gut feeling. Science writers tend to publish articles based on their gut feeling for personal benefit. The published articles, which may portray an idea against that of the public, create controversy. Controversy creates business. Thus, science writers publish half-truthful articles in order to benefit their wallet.

    Without the scientific misconception, the public would be more educated and there would be less controversy. However, this is America, a country that promotes personal growth. God Bless.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prompt #5



    There is a large part of society, medical practitioners included, that correlate vaccines with autism. However, there has yet to be a study to prove such a correlation. In fact, the risk of injury from vaccination is lower than that of obtaining a disease due to lack of vaccination. Extreme vaccine-autism advocates seem to be both ignorant and slightly scientifically illiterate. 

    Although many vaccine-autism advocates spend countless hours researching the correlation, their scientific literacy is at question.  The Lancet, a widely respected scientific news source, produced a study proving the correlation between autism and vaccines in 1998. Today, if a vaccine-autism advocate was to stumble across this study online, they would have all the evidence in the world. What most people do not know is that this study was retracted in 2010 due to "referred" children to participate in the study as well as unethical testing methods. Also, some of the scientists behind the study retracted their names way long before the study itself was retracted.

    The original article, prior to retraction, was well written and, if read by the "average Joe", is very compelling. However, correct research needs to be done. When I say correct, I mean you cannot take everything you read to be 100% true, which is what vaccine-autism advocates seem to do. If further research was done regarding the current status of the scientists behind the publication, or the actual publication itself, retractions draw a huge red flag. Therefore, said advocates must not only study the "big picture", but also research its constituents. Although vaccine-autism advocates can find a publication or an article here or there, there must be validity in their evidence in all sides of the spectrum.

    As a science writer, it upsets me that society takes the word of Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy instead of proven studies that do not correlate autism with vaccinations. Admittedly, I was once there before. Prominence plays a huge role in the media, especially here in America. Still, prominent figures are not always right. In addition, scientific writers as well must follow the unwritten moral code of proper validity and educate our public. To deepen our own knowledge and augment our true scientific literacy, we must stray away from the societal norm of taking a prominent figure's misconstrued and factually unsupported word. 

    With that being said, vaccine-autism advocates are ignorant and slightly scientifically illiterate. They are ignorant because of the lack of truth and distinguishable evidence behind their beliefs and scientifically illiterate because of the lack of validity in the articles or studies supporting their correlation.


Retracted article:
 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(97)11096-0/abstract

Reasons for retracting:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/sciencebiz/2010/02/02/the-lancets-incomprehensible-autism-retraction/.