Perception versus reality: the refugee crisis

There’s been an awful lot of talk thrown around lately about fake news, people living in “Facebook bubbles” where they only get news that agrees with opinions they already have, etc. There is also a lot of ongoing serious analysis about how people’s perceptions differ from reality, and how easy this is to influence in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. These things affect how people vote, and the policies of their governments – but these too, can be based on false perception. So I thought I’d just link to a piece in Nature [free to read] about the refugee situation worldwide; it has a lovely clear infographic you can download and good interactive figures. This is based on as good a data as is available, and it made me realise a lot of my own perceptions were flawed. I knew already, for example, that the of numbers of refugees entering Europe from Syria was much higher than it actually was, and that most of these refugees were being absorbed by neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Turkey. I did not know this:

Refugees 1


politics, Science, Science and society

Brexit and the future of UK science

The news here in the UK has, of course, been dominated by “Brexit“, the advisory referendum vote that saw the UK populace vote by a narrow margin to leave the EU. There is absolutely no way I’m going into the politics or constitutionality of this, as many actual political commentators are far more equipped to do so, but, as a scientist, the expected effects of UK science are of great interest to me. There is an absolutely excellent blog post on this here – this is from evidence given to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology by Dr Mike Galsworthy and Dr Rob Davidson: Scientists (and others) will be pleased to note that is therefore full of facts, data and supported evidence. It is a long but worthwhile read. I will quote from a few highlights to illustrate the main points, and then I will indulge myself and speculate a little on what my experience of the international nature of science has made me feel about large-scale political entities such as the EU. Continue reading