Tue 24 Nov | The Providence Journal

Felicia Nimue Ackerman: Of hot dogs and charity

Felicia Ackerman, professor of philosophy, writes about the different ways to help poor people and whether giving money is the best solution. "Many people favor giving the poor what they need rather than money to use at their own discretion," wrote Ackerman. She explained there is a contrived notion that, given the opportunity, poor people would spend money unwisely, despite evidence to the contrary.
Tue 24 Nov | Sputnik News

Investors to Approach Iran Energy Projects With Open But Cautious Minds

Jeff Colgan, professor of political science, commented on the announcement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday that Tehran is ready to increase the production and export of energy resources. "Foreign companies deciding whether to invest will have to balance positive signals from the current government [in Tehran] against the long historical pattern of Iranian antipathy to foreign investors dating back to the 1979 revolution," Colgan claimed.
Tue 24 Nov | The Atlantic

Brown University's $100 Million Inclusivity Plan

An article examining Brown University's $100 million diversity plan, how it could transform the institution and inform how other colleges address student led protests. "As a proponent of diversity among institutions, not just inside them, it strikes me as proper for Brown to pursue a course that reflects its well-established place on the left of the ideological spectrum," wrote Conor Friedersdorf. "Even so, I hope it uses this process to solicit criticism from people who value racial inclusiveness but have very different notions of how to achieve it. After all, contrary to the most sweeping critiques of student protesters, Brown University administrators and faculty were earnestly trying, long before this autumn, to create a diverse, inclusive campus for people of all races."
Tue 24 Nov | LifeZette

Sugar Free for Four Weeks

An article about sugar and the negative effects it has on the body cited research led by Suzanne M. de la Monte, professor of neurosurgery, pathology and laboratory medicine. “Excess sugars challenge our pancreas and body in general. All forms of insulin resistance, including diabetes and Type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s Disease) are associated with inflammatory states,” said de la Monte.
Tue 24 Nov | The Atlantic

Using a Murder Mystery to Teach Grammar

Janet Isserlis, program manager at the Swearer Center, comments on a unique lesson plan that involves murder mysteries to teach grammar. For Isserlis, the teaching style seems unnecessarily dark. “It could be ‘fun’ but it feels very misguided. Why not create a lesson where something goes missing, where someone makes some mistake or spells or even steals—why murder?” Isserlis asked. “I'm not convinced that there aren't other contexts, situations and examples that can engage learners in using language and critical thoughts as effectively—if not more so.”
Tue 24 Nov | VICE

The Best Drug for Quitting Smoking Can't Shake Its Suicide Stigma

Suzanne Colby, director at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, comments on reports that prescription drug Chantix is causing paranoia, dark thoughts, and suicide attempts. "It’s completely uncontrolled and anyone can call in and say ‘I had this effect while taking Chantix,’” said Colby. “When you don’t see these effects in the context of controlled trials but you do see it reported in this type of database, it makes me think it’s not the Chantix. As a scientist, that’s my conclusion.”
Tue 24 Nov | The Boston Globe

Blame the West’s interventions for today’s terrorism

Stephen Kinzer, senior fellow at the Watson Institute, wrote an op-ed about how America's interventions in the Middle East were provoking hatred and violent turmoil, and how terrorist attacks and migration have resulted. "Interventions multiply our enemies. Every village raid, every drone strike, and every shot fired in anger on foreign soil produces anti-Western passion," wrote Kinzer. The instinct to strike back against attackers is older than humanity itself, said Kinzer in regard to recent calls to place United States soldiers back in the region.
Tue 24 Nov | The Providence Journal

Whitehouse talks about social problems with ACI inmates

Inmates in Meghan Kallman's sociology class at the Adult Correctional Institutions were surprised to see U.S. Sen Sheldon Whitehouse when they walked into the room. As each walked in, Kallman, who is pursuing a doctorate at Brown University, introduced them to Whitehouse.
Mon 23 Nov | Detroit News

Mich. school districts struggle with absentee students

Kenneth Wong, chair of the Department of Education, comments on a new policy in Detroit that would withhold welfare benefits from families if their children are chronically absent from public school. “I am not aware that many states are taking this approach,” Wong said. “If Michigan is implementing this strategy, perhaps local and state agencies can build in a multistage process."
Fri 20 Nov | Nature

Green Climate Fund faces slew of criticism

Timmons Roberts, professor of sociology and environmental sciences, comments on the inability of the Global Climate Fund to raise funds from developed nations. "Many developing countries and NGOs believe that the funding should all flow through the GCF,” Roberts said. “However, contributor countries have always defended their ability to funnel their funds through channels they control, whether through their own bilateral agencies (like USAID) or through dedicated World Bank funds.”
Thu 19 Nov | Slate

Evolution Is Finally Winning Out Over Creationism

Kenneth Miller, professor of biology, comments on new statistics that reveal more Americans are embracing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection than ever before. The increase in younger people embracing evolution is “quite striking,” says Miller, who served as an expert witness in the landmark court case Kitzmiller v. Dover, which kicked “intelligent design” out of public school classrooms in 2005. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Thu 19 Nov | NPR

What Does It Mean To Be Intersex?

An opinion piece examining what it means to be intersex mentions the work by Anne Fausto-Sterling by citing her book, Sexing the Body. "There is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of difference... Labeling someone a man or a woman is a social decision," wrote Fausto-Sterling.
Thu 19 Nov | The New York Times

File Says N.S.A. Found Way to Replace Email Program

Timothy Edgar, senior fellow in international and public affairs, comments on new documents that reveal how the N.S.A. circumvented legal issues surrounding the Freedom Act. “The document makes it clear that N.S.A. is able to get all the Internet metadata it needs through foreign collection,” he said. “The change it made to its procedures in 2010 allowed it to exploit metadata involving Americans. Once that change was made, it was no longer worth the effort to collect Internet metadata inside the United States, in part because doing so requires N.S.A. to deal with” restrictions by the intelligence court.
Thu 19 Nov | State of Mind

Chas Freeman on Paris and refugee crises

Chas Freeman, senior fellow in international and public affairs, examined issues concerning the Paris attacks including the Syrian refugee crises, and more on Dan Yorke State of Mind. "This is a highly political issue. It's easily exploitable, but I think people should ask themselves how our ancestors got here and why," Freeman said of accepting refugees, while mentioning the diversified roots many Americans have.
Wed 18 Nov | Fusion

How the zebrafish got its stripes

A model proposed by Brown University researchers aims to explain how complex and dynamic structures form naturally. The model was designed to simulate how zebrafish get their stripes, which could inform color pattern formation in other fish or might even extend to mammals like tigers.
Wed 18 Nov | LiveScience

College Rape Study Reveals Alcohol, Drug Use Pattern

A Brown University led study illuminates two factors that may help in identifying women who are at the greatest risk of experiencing sexual assault while incapacitated. "The strongest predictor of sexual assault during the first year of college is a history of assault prior to college," said Kate Carey, author of the new study and professor of behavioral and social sciences. Understanding who is at the greater risk of sexual assault may help in making prevention programs better, according to Carey.
Tue 17 Nov | MIT Technology Review

How Robots Can Quickly Teach Each Other to Grasp New Objects

If robots could share what they've learned about gripping objects it would "increase the speed of data collection by orders of magnitude,” said Stefanie Tellex, a robotics researcher and assistant professor of computer science. She and graduate student John Oberlin have been working with a robot called Baxter, who has been learning to pick up objects through hours of repetition, with the hope of developing a method that would allow robots to share what they've learned.
Tue 17 Nov | Space.com

Where Will the 1st Astronauts on Mars Land?

Jim Head, professor of geological sciences, commented in an article about NASA's proposed locales on Mars for human landings. Head mentions the similarities between organizing the trek to Mars and the Apollo program, which he was a part of. "For Apollo, there was an incredible immediacy. For Mars, we've got time," Head said. "The good news is that this time enables us to establish the kind of science and engineering synergism that made Apollo moon exploration such a success."
Tue 17 Nov | Canadian Medical Association

Part III of a series on conflicts of interest in medicine

Dr. Roy Poses, a clinical associate professor of medicine, is quoted in an article that focuses on conflicts of interest between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. In an email, Poses said that advocates for more physician–industry "collaboration" appear to have "largely dismissed the evidence and logic underlining concerns about conflicts of interest in health care," noting in particular the many studies that indicate industry-funded research is more likely to produce positive results.
Tue 17 Nov | RI NPR

The Rant: Art And Truth

Andrew Case, a 2008 Brown graduate, discusses the plot of "The Rant," a play he wrote that continues to be relevant today. The story, told through the eyes several characters, focuses on the conflicting accounts people give after the shooting of a black teenager.
Mon 16 Nov | The New York Times

After Paris Attacks, C.I.A. Director Rekindles Debate Over Surveillance

Timothy Edgar, senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute, commented on the revival of surveillance programs in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. According to Edgar, the debate over surveillance had become too polarized, referencing to the measures taken after Sept. 11 and the sweeping condemnation of all surveillance in recent years. “There are lessons to be learned,” Mr. Edgar said, speaking of Paris. “But we don’t know what they are yet.”
Mon 16 Nov | National Geographic

Mystery Solved: How Bats Can Land Upside Down

Newly published research unveils the secret behind bats' ability to land upside down in seconds: it's inertia. “I would imagine that they use inertial forces for every aspect of their maneuvering,” said Kenny Breuer, professor of engineering and co-author of the study, adding even if "we don’t have any direct evidence of this yet.”