Wednesday, October 27, 2021

BIG Mouth

BIG team making big waves

Please indulge me while I help explain how in just 8 months our little startup has managed to make a BIG impact on the media scene. With plenty of assistance from co-founder Laurie Weston, I constructed what I believed to be a heck of a business model that would allow us to introduce new levels of truth and accuracy in news reporting. Then the team at Innovative Digital Solutions helped build a beautiful, high-functioning site...

Manipulating science – activism and advocacy

In a court of law, witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This means they promise not to knowingly lie, leave anything relevant out of the story, or embellish what they know with something they think they know or assume to be true – with or without the intent to mislead. The spirit of this oath should be adopted by scientists and those who use science as...

Science – there is method to the madness

“Trust the science!”  It is a rallying cry heard frequently these days intended to signal truth, intelligence, and righteousness. Whether in climate change discussions or pandemic responses, energy posturing or political systems, it seems the mere mention of “science” implies incontestable and definitive proof. That is ironic, considering science itself is based on observation, theory, models, and inferences, all of which can contain significant uncertainty. Imagine a simple scientific experiment to determine the boiling point of...

Science and morality – ethics and judgment

There is a common misperception that science is all about equations, formulas, and clear-cut, unambiguous measurements conducted by serious intellectuals in lab coats. In fact, there is considerable room for creativity, and, very often, non-analytical judgment and choice are involved. These choices and judgments are sometimes about right and wrong, the determination of which depends upon a certain interpretation of morality. Whose morality? What criteria? Are there lines beyond which we all agree something...

It’s time to challenge modern-day bullies

One year ago, I was enjoying a constructive debate on the big issue of the day on the thread of one of my LinkedIn posts. People from all over North America were weighing in with their insights. Some even commented about how nice it was to be having a respectful discussion featuring many viewpoints. Then a prominent Calgary doctor joined the discussion with what he intended to be a mic-drop moment. I challenged him, as...

California university students renew faith in future of media

My faith in humanity has been restored. When former marketing agency client Fiona Robinson asked me to be a guest lecturer in the Solving Big World Challenges class that she and fellow professor Dr. David Askay lead at California Polytechnic State University, I was glad to oblige. The theme for the current semester is “Misinformation”. I am quite familiar with misinformation in the media (though I do not practise it), but I was concerned that the...

Assigning blame in the latest Facebook fiasco

OMG. OMG. OMG. I am reading the transcript of this week's 60 Minutes interview with whistleblower Frances Haugen, a data scientist who since June 2019 has been working as a product manager at Facebook. "When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content, it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other," Haugen said to CBS correspondent Scott...

Taking a long-term view of the decision to vaccinate

The continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing new levels of frustration amongst the populace, including among health care professionals. That frustration centres on the question of vaccination, in particular where uptake of vaccination is low, but vaccines are readily available. The United States has a 54% reported rate of full vaccination relative to its entire population, while Canada has 69%, and Europe has 51%. The global rate is 31%.In the U.S. and Canada, vaccines are widely available....

Tough times for the intelligent set

It is a very difficult time to be an intelligent, respectful person. I have surrounded myself with accomplished scientists and am privy to conversations that help me understand their plight. When someone says, "What is wrong with the unvaccinated; can't they see that the science is settled, and that it is incredibly selfish to avoid vaccination?", my astute associates would say something like, "Anyone who understands science knows that we are all still learning about COVID-19 vaccines,...

Maximum effort should be placed on building trust

We may be missing one of the main points in our arguments over vaccination against COVID-19. We may also be placing our efforts to increase vaccination uptake on the wrong things. Bribes, coercion, and political bickering are not necessarily helpful; building trust in vaccines is. Vaccine passports and vaccination against COVID-19 have continued to be part of the dialogue in the lives of Americans and Canadians. The discussion has become a political tool in the...