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December 1, 2009

Herein marks the beginning of an experiment in the dissemination of scientific information, ideas and musings. This is a stretching of my mind and an indulgence in the combination of things to which I have a feverish attraction: science and a lot of non-science (look out for film, news, literature, among other things).

The goal: everyday, write about one thing–science-related–that strikes me as worth thinking about. Something I think the world should know about. Simple.

At the heart of this endeavor is my belief that scientists have a deep moral obligation to tell the story of their findings. We owe it to the generous participants who give us their time and energy–publishing our findings in science-ese is not enough. We owe it to our field–if we do not convince the public that we are making good use of their money, why should they continue to fund us? And we owe it to ourselves–it reminds us of why we do what we do and helps answer the question “who cares?” Our current silence about science is not just wrong, but elitist and boring. (For more on this, hear Robert Krulwich give thecommencement address at CalTech—-it’s enough to make you raise your hands and say “hooray for this!”)

Finally, why Science Gnome? Garden gnomes are devilish, full of character, and clearly value science (Darwin was a horticulturist and gardener before he was a “scientist”). Also? They’re lazy, as am I. But even a gnome can take 20 minutes a day to write about something she loves.

Note: this ethical stance is not an original one. See the following paper, for a nerdier perspective:

Rosenthal, R. (1994). Science and ethics in conducting, analyzing, and reporting psychological      research. Psychological Science, 5, 128-134

**UPDATE: Clearly this once a day thing has not been going well. I’m renewing my effort and taking the pressure off. Such lofty goals have kept me at bay. New goal: every day, no matter what.

***UPDATE 2: Clearly every day was just to much to ask. How about whenever I damn well please! There! Ha! Take that, internet!

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