Social Science in the News

This page has links to social science research which has made the headlines.

UK scientists worried about how Brexit will affect their funding received a boost this week, when the country's three main national parties pledged long-term targets to raise research spending.

The announcements came in party manifestos unveiled ahead of national elections in June.

Read More (Nature)

Azerbaijan is undergoing a protracted economic crisis, which its authoritarian Aliyev regime is having difficulty tackling.

When entrenched cronyism, corruption and nepotism are business as usual, does hard work and hard study count for anything?

Read More (Open Democracy)

The spread of false information has always been with us, but it is something we face every day in the digital age.

At the core of the problem of misinformation is confirmation bias – we tend to seize on information that confirms our own view of the world, ignoring anything that doesn’t - and thus polarisation.

Read More (Eyewitness News)

Should PhD supervisors publish with their students? Should PhD students include their supervisors as co-authors on articles emanating from their PhD projects?

To many academics, the answer seems, self-evidently, yes. But some – especially, in our experience, in the social sciences – remain adamantly unconvinced.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Measurements at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory showed that the concentration of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere had exceeded 410 parts per million.

Some might be thinking this: Since rising levels of greenhouse gases are causing global warming, and myriad climate changes like melting ice sheets and glaciers, then this really was big news story.

Read More (Discover)

The sixth graders at Newton Bateman, a public elementary school here with a classic red brick facade, know the Google drill.

In a social-science class last year, the students each grabbed a Google-powered laptop.

Read More (The New York Times)

Table football, ping pong and hammocks are no substitute for job security or work satisfaction and actually annoy many staff, a leading academic has warned.

A new study by the storage and removals firm Kiwi Movers suggests a backlash against quirky office furniture, with a quarter of staff finding them annoying and only 14 per cent liking them.

Read More (iNews)

Is the selfie culture coming into serious academic research?

Or is it a valid way of using first-hand experience?

Read More (BBC)

New social science research shows a correlation between illegal gold mining and the spread of malaria.

We explore why this might be the case.

Read More (NPR)

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former research assistant of mine, would not strike most people as a revolutionary.

Yet in his new book “Everybody Lies,” he argues persuasively for a mutiny in social science.

Read More (Bloomberg)

Citizens receiving a basic monthly income as part of a radical Finnish pilot scheme have seen a reduction in their stress levels, an official leading the trial has said.

The first of its kind in Europe, the scheme sees 2,000 people receive 560 euros (£473) every month for two years.

Read More (The Independent)

In attempting to reduce human rights abuses, both academics and practitioners focus on two mechanisms that can, at least at times, lead to respect for human rights.

First, when social norms change, individuals may come to see themselves as human rights compliers or respecters and may come to view some government practices as improper. This is the logic of appropriateness. Second, legal rules, when enforced, can impose costly sanctions on those who violate human rights. This is the logic of consequences.

Read More (Open Democracy)

A person of true culture, with a steady vision of the ideal of the good society, would probably loathe the notion of spin, find himself appalled by the pressure exerted upon him by special interests, be nauseated by the corruption of his colleagues who enrich themselves while claiming to be wily for the public good.

Enmeshed in the everyday cut and thrust of contemporary politics, a cultured man or woman would likely spend a fair amount of his or her time squirming.

Read More (Weekly Standard)

In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May sympathised with those ‘ordinary’ families who ‘just about manage’, with mortgages, the cost of living, and job insecurity, recognising these families’ struggle for control over their lives. In this way, the ‘jams’ became the new ‘squeezed middle’.

There is no doubt that ‘jams’ and ‘the squeezed middle’ are rhetorical devices, but this doesn’t mean we can dismiss them – or the experiences of the low-to-middle income families they represent.

Read More (Discover Society)

We all like to think we are in charge of the decisions we make.

Yet anyone who reads up on social science, or listens to the Hidden Brain podcast, knows there are subconscious factors influencing our decisions.

Read More (Forbes)

Studies show that people who spend more time on social media sites feel more socially isolated than those who don't.

This might be because of a disconnect between our online lives and our real ones.

Read More (NPR)

Researchers will today begin a three-year project to design housing for refugee camps in extreme climates where temperatures range from 45C to -10C.

The international team behind the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project, led by Bath University, aim to improve living conditions for refugees by creating low-cost and easy-to-construct housing.

Read More (The Guardian)

Politics has always been vicious. “War without bloodshed,” Chairman Mao called it, but Theresa May has seen a chance for a political bloodletting at least, calling a snap election in June that promises to significantly increase the Conservatives’ parliamentary majority and could rout Labour altogether.

If the polls are correct this time, the UK general election will continue the trend of a resurgent Right, which has also emerged victorious from the bloody battlefields of Brexit and Trump.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Netflix’s new talk show, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” debuted the night before people around the world joined together to demonstrate and March for Science.

Many have lauded the timing and relevance of the show, featuring the famous “Science Guy” as its host, because it aims to myth-bust and debunk anti-scientific claims in an alternative-fact era.

Read More (San Francisco Chronicle)

Awkward people are neither better, nor worse than anyone else — they simply see the world differently and have to exert more effort to master social graces that come intuitively to others.

If you’re awkward, then your sharply focused attention can get stuck or your intensity becomes difficult to corral.

Read More (Time)

Theresa May is under mounting pressure to remove foreign students from the immigration figures after MPs warned that her refusal to do so is damaging Britain’s world class universities.

In a report published today, the cross-party Education Select Committee calls for overseas students to be recorded “under a separate classification and not be counted against the overall [migration] limit.”

Read More (Independent)

The idea of analysing culture seems irritatingly vague and slippery to anybody who normally uses a spreadsheet to study the world.

More surprisingly, even some academic anthropologists seem ambivalent about the trend.

Read More (Financial Times)

For decades, many social scientists have promoted the view that conservatives are particularly closed-minded—that people on the political Right are more tribal in their thinking patterns, more vulnerable to propaganda that confirms their pre-existing ideas, and more skeptical of inconvenient facts.

But a new paper reviewing dozens of relevant studies on this topic finds that this view is not supported (indeed, one might wonder if this consensus is not itself a product of liberal bias in the social sciences).

Read More (The American Interest)

When Per Espen Stoknes looked at polls going back to 1989 assessing the level of public concern about climate change in 39 different countries, he found a surprising pattern in the data.

“Incredibly enough, it shows that the more certain the science becomes, the less concern we find in richer Western democracies,” he said. “How can it be that with increasing level of urgency and certainty in the science, people get less concerned?”

Read More (Vox)

A group of academics believes it has found a means by which to quantify how successful, or unsuccessful, Britain's final Brexit deal is, once talks conclude in March 2019.

Writing in a new paper, Professor Hans Blokland, alongside Sarah Coughlan, Nils Wadt and Patrick Sullivan, analysed another recent paper released by policy group The UK in a Changing Europe titled "A Successful Brexit: Four Economic Tests" — before coming to their own conclusions about what outcomes are needed to consider Brexit to be a success.

Read More (UK Business Insider)

In recent weeks, tensions over European immigration and liberal values have culminated in a direct attack on the Central European University in Budapest.

The university is now facing closure after a series of questionable higher education “reforms” by the Hungarian government.

Read More (The Conversation)

Children who spend more time social networking online feel less happy with a number of different aspects of their lives, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

The research by academics in the University’s Department of Economics, presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference this week, shows that the more time children spend chatting on social networks such as Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram, the less happy they feel about their school work, their school attended, their appearance, their family and their life overall. But they do feel happier about their friendships.

Read More (University of Sheffield)

New social science research looks at how to get more low-income students into college.

Read More (NPR)

When Hungary’s government passed a law last week which was effectively intended to shut down Budapest’s Central European University, it surely anticipated that there would be a backlash.

It probably did not anticipate mass demonstrations, or senior European politicians threatening to suspend Hungary’s membership of the European Union.

Read More (Washington Post)

“Latino immigration is generally associated with decrease in homicide victimization,” Purdue University sociologist Michael Light writes in the journal Social Science Research.

His analysis finds this trend applies to “whites, blacks, and Hispanics, in both established and non-established immigrant destinations.”

Read More (Pacific Standard)

Artificial intelligence (AI) will bring about huge innovation to several sectors of the economy, including health care, predicts Aaron Levie, the co-founder and CEO of enterprise cloud company Box.

Levie, who launched Box in 2005, believes artificial intelligence will create the most innovation for businesses.

Read More (CNBC)

He’s been called “punctuation’s answer to Banksy”. A self-styled grammar vigilante who spends his nights surreptitiously correcting apostrophes on shop signs and billboards.

The general consensus is that he’s a modern-day hero – a mysterious crusader against the declining standards of English. But his exploits represent an altogether darker reality.

Read More (The Conversation)

With an ageing population, a rise in long-term conditions, growing health inequalities, and a lack of political will to ensure that funding is increased in line with demand, the UK's National Health Service has been brought to breaking point.

In this context, there is an urgent need to put in place policies that reduce healthcare need and make much better use of the resources available.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Essays will be marked down unless they use 'gender-sensitive language', students at a British university have been told.

Many universities are already advising students and staff not to use 'gender-offensive' terms such as 'he' or 'she' to describe people that could be either male or female.

Read More (The Daily Mail)

A study led by an Engineering Doctorate student at the University of Surrey has found that the carbon footprint of crime over the last 20 years has fallen.

The study, published in the British Journal of Criminology, applied estimates of the carbon footprint of criminal offences to police-recorded crime and self-reported victimisation survey data, to estimate the carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales between 1995 and 2015.

Read More (Science Daily)

The accusation that academia is disproportionately left-wing and liberal is not a new one.

Nor is the main thrust of the claim, in a report by the Adam Smith Institute, contentious.

Read More (The Conversation)

The concept of love at first sight is the subject of sonnets and songs dating back centuries, and remains a popular trope in rom-coms and on television.

But what about “friendship at first sight?”

Read More (Paste Magazine)

People exposed to entertainment television are more likely to vote for populist politicians according to a new study co-authored by an economist at Queen Mary University of London.

The researchers investigated the political impact of entertainment television in Italy over the last 30 years during the phased introduction of Silvio Berlusconi's commercial TV network Mediaset

Read More (

Growing up in a hungry household in the first couple of years of life can hurt how well a child performs in school years later, according to a new study.

An estimated 13.1 million children live in homes with insufficient food, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read More (NPR)

The government’s focus has been on making a success of a small number of big cities – but there are 36.1 million people who don’t live in them, on the outside looking in.

It’s time to change that.

Read More (The Guardian)

Policy makers throughout the world, guided by behavioral scientists, are devising ways to steer people toward decisions deemed to be in their best interests.

These simple interventions don’t force, teach or openly encourage anyone to do anything. Instead, they nudge, exploiting for good — at least from the policy makers’ perspective — mental tendencies that can sometimes lead us astray.

Read More (Science News)

Abundant social science evidence on everything from global warming denial to moon landing conspiracy theories shows that simply giving people more information won't make them change their minds when they have strong preexisting beliefs.

If a person has gone so far as to convince themselves that the Earth is flat, bucking all basic scientific evidence to the contrary, that means they would be convinced that I'm lying to them.

Read More (Mashable)

Data is an enabler.

It is essential to understand that this is not just about driving the commercial gains that are often shouted about.

Read More (The Herald)

Despite the perception of poor job prospects, Tony Donohue, head of education and social policy at employers’ group Ibec, says arts, humanities and social science degrees are highly valued by employers.

“With arts graduates, it may take them longer to get there, but when they do, they reach senior positions within organisations,” he says.

Read More (The Irish Times)

Depression makes it hard to focus.

It makes it hard to think about long-term goals, or to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment.

Read More (Paste Magazine)

Michael Gove had a point, up to a point. People don’t trust all experts the way they once did, and can be suspicious of their role in public policy.

Experts themselves bear some responsibility for this.

Read More (The Telegraph)

The modern notion of scientists as disinterested, non-partisan figures arose (perhaps counterintuitively) during the Cold War, according to many historians.

It’s hard to imagine a period during which the overlaps between science and politics were clearer.

Read More (Pacific Standard)

For months after the United Kingdom voted last June to leave the European Union, many British scientists clung to hopes of a “soft Brexit,” which would not cut them off from EU funding and collaborators.

But Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to trigger the 2-year process of exiting the European Union in coming days, has signaled the break will be sharp.

Read More (Science Mag)

The rise of fake news has dominated the world of politics since the last U.S. election cycle.

But fake news is not at all new in the world of science, notes University of Wisconsin-Madison Life Sciences Communication Professor Dominique Brossard.

Read More (EurekAlert!)

Country rankings in international education tests – such as PISA and TIMSS – are often used to compare and contrast education systems across a range of countries.

But it isn’t always an even playing field.

Read More (The Conversation)

Deadly viruses that cause panic and epidemics are becoming more common because of deforestation the depletion of natural habitats for wild animals.

The deadly viruses themselves aren't increasing, it’s their exposure to humans that has increased. As humans trek further into the forests and environments where viruses like Ebola, Zika, and HIV are common among bats, rodents, and other animals, the higher the chances are that those viruses will make the jump to infecting humans, according to NPR.

Read More (International Business Tribune)

It may seem that new relationships are entirely fuelled by dreams and hopes for a perfect future. But the past can have a powerful influence too – often more so than we would like to admit.

The “emotional baggage” that we bring from the past can mean that we sometimes pick a partner who’s not quite right, make bad relationship decisions or find it difficult to fully devote ourselves to the person we are with.

Read More (The Conversation)

In early February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he would not be making any changes to Canada’s electoral rules.

This might be a non-story, if Trudeau and his supporters hadn’t pledged 1,813 times to reform the system, according to an opposition party’s count.

Read More (Washington Post)

Last week the NHS released its latest monthly statistics on the number of patients facing delays in their transfers to care services. They make for grim reading.

They show that higher demand for adult social care and pressure on local authority social care budgets is seriously affecting NHS performance, and threatens the overall sustainability of the health and social care systems.

Read More (Public Finance)

A 2014 Pew Research Center study also indicates that a majority of people in all of the forty-four countries polled described the gap between rich and poor as a problem for their country.

Economic inequalities in income and wealth, social inequalities in health, education and access to welfare services, gender and racial inequalities, cultural and religious discrimination, barriers to political participation --- all are main instances of inequalities.

Read More (The Financial Express)

In today's digital age, they are relied upon by many people looking to find the best buy. But internet reviews can be wildly misleading, a study has found, because they are usually created by people who exaggerate how good a product is.

Psychologist Dr Mícheál de Barra looked at more than 1,600 online reviews of health products on website Amazon, then compared them with the scientific results of clinical trials.

Read More (The Daily Mail)

To determine if new vaccines are effective, researchers often closely monitor trends in disease rates for a city or community. However, these observations can be confounded by changes in the health or behavior of the population, so a better “control” comparison is needed.

One social science comparison technique called “the synthetic control method” presents a unique way to address this problem: combine the information from several possible control communities to create a superior aggregated control built from many possible controls.

Read More (Ars Technica)

Research has shown that students' learning and cognitive performance can be influenced by emotional reactions to learning, like enjoyment, anxiety, and boredom. Most studies on this topic have been done in labs.

Now a new longitudinal study out of Germany investigates how students' emotions in a school context relate to their achievement.

Read More (

At an EU summit in Malta on February 3, Theresa May announced Britain would help support the resettlement of refugees who arrive in Europe to Latin America and Asia.

Yet while it has been presented as a humanitarian endeavour, the plan preserves relationships of exploitation and inequality between countries.

Read More (The Conversation)

The level of tax in Britain has reached the highest level as proportion of national income for 30 years, a respected think tank has found.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that taxes are on course to rise by £17billion over the course of this Parliament, taking that the proportion of national income raised in taxes to 37 per cent for the first time since 1986.

Read More (The Telegraph)

A legally regulated cannabis market would result in more effective strategies aimed at helping drug users to access the right support and guidance, say researchers at the University of York.

In a new report published by the drug policy think tank, Volteface, the team, which included researchers at the University of Bournemouth, demonstrated that there is a disparity in how cannabis is prioritised by drug and alcohol providers, wider community services, local authority commissioners, and public health bodies, which has impeded the quality of support and guidance available.

Read More (University of York)

If you want to win an Oscar it is best to be an American actor in a film that portrays American culture.

That is the conclusion of a paper published today, Sunday 5 February, in the British Journal of Psychology by Dr Niklas K. Steffens from the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland and his fellow authors.

Read More (Science Daily)

Employees working more than 39 hours a week are putting their health at risk, according to new research by The Australian National University.

This is a problem because about two in three Australians in full-time employment work more than 40 hours a week, according to lead researcher Dr Huong Dinh from the ANU Research School of Population Health.

Read More (HC Online)

Ancient DNA analyses show that – unlike elsewhere in Europe – farmers from the Near East did not overtake hunter-gatherer populations in the Baltic.

The findings also suggest that the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family originated in the Steppe grasslands of the East.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

The use of body cameras by front line police and other uniformed enforcement agencies is increasing at an unstoppable rate both in the US and UK.

In the UK, video cameras have been seen primarily as a way of supporting police officers to better enforce order or collect evidence.

Read More (The Conversation)

It is a utopian idea, literally, but is enjoying a renaissance as politicians and policy wonks grapple with technology-driven changes that could redefine our very understanding of work.

If robots and machine intelligence threaten to render many white-collar jobs obsolete, then what will people do for money?

Read More (

Where people die is often important to them and their families, as well as being important for planning health care services.

Most people want to die at home, but most die in hospital.

Read More (King's College London)

Scientists continue to surprise us with amazing discoveries, and billions of people around the world have been lifted out of poverty.

But dark clouds have formed on the horizon.

Read More (Project Syndicate)

The Government’s new industrial strategy focuses on STEM. This is welcome – we need knowledge and skills in this are.

But we cannot continue to see growth and productivity in the UK as fuelled by science and technology alone.

Read More (iNews)

After decades of picking up towels and washing dishes, many women might not believe it.

But men in Britain now think that both sexes should split the housework down the middle, scientists have found.

Read More (The Daily Mail)

Does taking your husband's last name mean you're "more committed" as a wife? Depending on who you talk to, the answer may be yes.

That's the interesting result of a new study out of Portland State University, which assessed the responses of 1,243 adults to a survey about women, marital roles, and relationships.

Read More (Bustle)

The article is about the importance of large birth cohorts, such as MoBa.

Both the US and Britain have tried to launch similar birth cohorts, but have not succeeded. There are several reasons for this, both economical and practical.

Read More (Norwegian Institute of Public Health)

Religious education is key to community cohesion finds new research following a survey of nearly 12,000 13- to 15-year-old students attending schools across the United Kingdom.

The project on "Young People's Attitudes to Religious Diversity", carried out by the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) at the University of Warwick, addressed two main questions:

Read More (

Social science research demonstrates that militant groups with a consistent revenue stream are better equipped to facilitate and sustain rebellions. Illicit trade in diamonds, narcotics and timber, for example, provides rebel leaders with funds to assemble fighting forces capable of confronting the government.

Rebel movements located far from state power centers or concealed within impenetrable terrain are particularly difficult to suppress.

Read More (The Washington Post)

The Supreme Court has ruled by a majority of eight to three that an Act of Parliament is necessary to trigger Article 50 and the formal Brexit process, and this judicial disagreement reflects the highly technical and complex nature of the issues at stake.

Both the majority and dissenting voices have been keen to stress that legal principles were their sole concern, and that there was no political dimension to the views expressed.

Read More (University of Manchester)

As convenient shorthand for a brand of politics that has stolen the headlines, ‘populism’ has been used by academics and journalists to describe a host of movements and their leaders at different times and in different parts of the world that appear, at first glance, to have little in common.

Despite its wide usage in politics, the term remains ill-defined. This is partly because populism is chameleon-like; it changes its appearance depending on what (or whom) it is attached to.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

Since the early 2000s, a growing movement of social science researchers have been pushing policy-makers to do “impact evaluations” of their programs.

That’s a phrase used in the world of aid that means checking whether your program is achieving its ultimate objective — say raising incomes or reducing disease.

Read More (OPB)

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on saving American jobs and, since the election, has targeted automakers on Twitter, urging them to keep production domestic or face steep border taxes.

But there’s one force he cannot shame into compliance: the market.

Read More (The Washington Post)

Researchers have written computer programs that found patterns among anonymized data about web traffic and used those patterns to identify individual users.

The researchers note web users with active social media are vulnerable to the attack.

Read More (Science Daily)

In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on.

Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies.

Read More (The Guardian)

Some social scientists, including us, will tell you that they thought Donald Trump could win the US presidential election. But few expected he really would.

And within sociology – the academic circle we most often navigate – scholars certainly did not prepare for a Trump victory.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Psychologists from The University of Manchester have shown how difficult it is for us to guess the true intention of each other’s behaviour.

The study, published today in Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, has important implications on public policies designed to impact on areas such as smoking, obesity, eating disorders, self-harm, alcohol use and gambling.

Read More (University of Manchester)

In recent years, behavioral science has become a voguish field.

In 2002, the Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work with a colleague, Amos Tversky, exploring the peculiarities of human decision-making in the face of uncertainty.

Read More (The New Yorker)

Like some of its rich-world peers, Britain has entered the age of the aged.

A report by the Resolution Foundation think-tank reveals that almost a third of people born today can expect to live to 100.

Read More (The Guardian)

California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the state to establish curriculum standards and frameworks to teach “civic online reasoning” to middle- and high-schoolers.

The intention is to help give youngsters “the ability to judge the credibility and quality of information found on Internet Web sites, including social media,” the bill states.

Read More (Washington Post)

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a maximum wage for Britian’s highest earners, an ostensibly draconian measure necessary to stop the UK becoming a grossly unequal, bargain basement economy.

The suggestion was met by a deluge of outrage and disapproval, being described in turn as “idiotic”, “lunatic” and “incoherent” – and that’s from within his own party.

Read More (Irish Times)

The future of higher education is back in the spotlight as the controversial Higher Education and Research Bill enters the next stage of scrutiny in the House of Lords this week.

The Bill’s proposals include plans to make it easier for new higher education providers to enter the sector, along with the transfer of powers to the new Office for Students, as well as a new university ranking system.

Read More (The Conversation)

Digital technology puts a world of information at our fingertips, but it also allows bosses to reach into their workers' personal time with unprecedented ease.

This blurring of the boundaries between work and personal time has generated a new industry around "digital mindfulness" — and now at least one country has changed the law to protect employees.

Read More (CNBC)

When did electricity take over from steam in the UK? When did football replace cricket as the most popular sport? And what year did women start to become more frequently mentioned in the press?

We can turn to big data for the answers. Specifically, a new paper by a team artificial intelligence researchers at the University of Bristol that used AI to analyse the news from 100 different British regional newspapers over the past 150 years.

Read More (WIRED)

As smartphones have proliferated, so have questions about their impact on how we live and how we work.

Often the advantages of convenient, mobile technology are both obvious and taken for granted, leaving more subtle topics for concerned discussion: Are smartphones disturbing children's sleep? Is an inability to get away from work having a negative impact on health? And what are the implications for privacy?

Read More (NPR)

Society could come to an end in less than a decade, a “mathematical historian” has predicted.

Professor Peter Turchin said sweeping political turmoil and social unrest could result in the collapse of the world as we know it in the 2020s.

Read More (The Independent)

Even today, more than fifty years after its first edition, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions remains the first port of call to learn about the history, philosophy or sociology of science.

This is the book famous for talking about science as governed by ‘paradigms’ until overtaken by ‘revolutions’.

Read More (The Guardian)

Politically correct. Political correctness. Using the biggest bully pulpit there is, Trump has wielded the phrase and its variants like a club some days and a shield on others.

And he's hardly alone.

Read More (NPR)

Recent reports that Russia hacked into the emails of Democratic Party officials to interfere with the U.S. presidential election have rightly set off alarm bells around Washington about the need for improved digital defenses.

But while attention has focused on that and numerous other government breaches, the private sector has been facing a cybersecurity crisis of its own.

Read More (Politico)

Donald Trump has apparently chosen Rex Tillerson, chief executive of ExxonMobil, to be secretary of state. John R. Bolton, a hawkish Bush administration official and fierce supporter of the 2003 Iraq War, is in line to become the deputy secretary.

Setting aside the uncertainties of Senate confirmation, it is worth considering the nomination as a social scientist.

Read More (Washington Post)

Researchers who study the spread of misinformation say they’d like to help Facebook get to grips with its fake news crisis.

But while Twitter makes data available in bulk through an interface that anyone with some basic coding skills can access, Facebook is not nearly as open.

Read More (BuzzFeed)

President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday that “nobody really knows” whether climate change is real and that he is “studying” whether the United States should withdraw from the global warming agreement struck in Paris a year ago.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, Trump said he’s “very open-minded” on whether climate change is underway but has serious concerns about how President Obama’s efforts to cut carbon emissions have undercut America’s global competitiveness.

Read More (The Washington Post)

Social scientists routinely promise confidentiality to those who participate in their research. They tell participants that they will not inform anyone else about their involvement with the research or they will not reveal what they have said. This is done to encourage and ensure frank participation.

But while ethics committees and review boards often mandate these promises of confidentiality, it is rare for such bodies, or universities, to speak up for researchers when they are faced with demands that they break confidentiality.

Read More (The Conversation)

Cutting welfare and social care budgets during times of economic hardship is an “historically obsolete” strategy that ignores the very roots of British prosperity, a group of Cambridge academics have warned.

Writing in the leading medical journal, The Lancet, a team of researchers argue that squeezing health and welfare spending in order to reduce taxes, and on the basis that these are luxuries that can only be afforded when times are good, overlooks a critical lesson of British history – namely that they are central to the nation’s economic success.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

The head of the schools watchdog has linked the Brexit vote to the failure to raise education standards in parts of England.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, speaking ahead of the publication of the Ofsted annual report on Thursday, highlighted the continuing geographical divide in education, with schools in the north and east Midlands continuing to lag behind those in London and the south.

Read More (Guardian)