I am still a huge fan of open science, despite the barrage of pay-to-play spam, and would love to live in a world where all scholarly publications were freely available to anyone who wants to see them. But I am beginning to think we need peer review for journals, as much as we need it for the articles within them.
As Mark Twain apparently didn't say, a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on. And when that lie is powered by a breakthrough, NASA-approved space drive technology it can get to infinity and beyond, even if the truth is in hot pursuit.
The equation-filled blackboard is one of the most reliable props of academia, not just in cartoons and movies, but in real life. You know a scientific discussion is taking a turn for the serious when the protagonists head to the board. Walking into a colleague's office, a glance at the scrawled notes on their board gives you a taste of their current research preoccupations and teaching commitments; wobbly chalk drawings along the bottom edge are a pretty good sign that the office's owner has a small child in their life.
Craig goes far beyond the standard hedging used by politicians who want to put off grappling with climate change ("it's complex", "the jury is still out", "scientists disagree", "I'm not a scientist"), and apparently believes that it is not even possible for human behaviour to significantly modify the climate.
Given the current state of the New Zealand electorate, Craig's party stands a chance of being part of a coalition government. It is worth asking how did the Conservative Party arrive at its positions? Who did it consult? Where does it stand on evidence-based policy-making? Perhaps we should "Ask Colin"?
Just under a year ago the internet cranked out dozens of stories on NASA's efforts to develop "warp drive" technologies. And just under a year ago, dozens of scientists and science bloggers explained that while Einstein's general theory of relativity let's you describe a warp drive, that doesn't mean that the universe will let you build one.
Young cosmologists learn fairly quickly that engaging with eccentrics and their pet theories is generally not a good use of their time. My own experience is that "independent investigators" are almost always courteous, decent people. However, they appear to enjoy dissent as much as they enjoy grappling with the deep problems of physics. Consequently, they are rarely overtly upset that they cannot change the opinions of mainstream scientists, and will hold on to their positions in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The advice I give my students is not to wrestle a pig; you both get muddy, but the pig enjoys it.
As for me, I can see plenty of dangers associated with giving children wireless devices, but they are of the "why don't you get up off the couch / visit a friend / go swimming / throw a ball / practice your instrument / build something / ride your bike / read a book / do what kids did when I was a kid" variety.
So, my take is that even if you can generate a spacewarp in the lab, a quick estimate says its gravitational effects would be billions or trillions of times below the threshold of detectability. The problem is not that warp drives are impossible, but that this description of them does not seem to be self-consistent.
Perhaps Weinstein has been breathing his own fumes for too long, and has managed to persuade du Sautoy that the usual standards of reproducibility, peer-review and the scrutiny of one's colleagues are just for the little people. And here Weinstein really is challenging Einstein: the Swiss-German patent clerk played by the rules.
Incensed by the phrase "homeopathic remedies have failed every randomised, evidence-based scientific study seeking to verify their claims of healing powers" a Tauranga-based homeopathist took a complaint to the Press Council, New Zealand's media watchdog -- as is his right. So far, again, so good.