grab bag

I have pretty much given up on keeping my bookmarks organised on a day-to-day basis; I keep a few handy reference links that I use regularly (like Merriam-Webster online) and just use Google to find anything else I want from time to time (say, a currency or temperature scale converter). Other than that, I keep a toolbar folder into which I dump all the interesting links that come my way, and every now and then I sort those links into an organised set of folders. It’s cleanup time again, so here are a couple of web goodies:
Winning greater influence for science. Daniel Yankelovich argues that there is an unspoken agreement between science and society which provides science with a “separation from involvement with goals, values, and institutions other than its own”, and that

This “social contract” has allowed science to pursue long-term fundamental questions and to build slowly on the basis of its new knowledge. Science has been able to do this even in the context of a society such as ours, which in most domains is impatient, excessively pragmatic, and thinks only in the short term. But this same social contract is responsible for the widening disparity between the sophistication of our science and the relatively primitive state of our social and political relationships.

Most scientists of my acquaintance (and I am guilty of this too) treat the gulf between the public and our “ivory towers” the same way as everyone treats the weather: we complain, but we do nothing. Yankelovich at least suggests a model for dealing with the problem.
On a related note, Eugene Goodheart’s essay Imperial Science takes on the “two cultures” view of CP Snow and his inheritors EO Wilson, Jared Diamond and Richard Dawkins. I’m probably a little more sympathetic to Wilson’s side of things than Goodheart is, but the essay is a welcome thorn in the side of “sociobiology”, that misbegotten offshoot of evolutionary biology which attempts to reduce human lives to formulae and ape-behaviours.