I have been reading a lot recently about the Irish Government’s decision to get rid of its Chief Scientific Adviser. My fellow blogger Maria Delaney has covered this well both on her award-winning Science Calling! blog and on Journal.ie. The story is that, due to budgetary cutbacks, the supposedly independent Adviser role is to be given to the head of the government’s own science research funding body. Scientists say that this essentially abolishes the post of Adviser, and worse, creates a “conflict of interest“. It’s all a bit nuanced. Do check out Maria’s blog for the details.
What I do know, however, is that there’s something a little strange with the logo on the Chief Scientific Adviser’s own website. It features an oft-used design based on a stylised DNA sequence. You know, the whole double-helix-image-that-has-become-iconic-within-our-culture thing. Except there’s one problem. They got it kinda backwards…
Take a look. See how it’s twisting? It should be the other way. Imagine the helix as a spiral staircase; with proper DNA, ascending should take you counter-clockwise, and going downstairs should take you clockwise. But that’s not what happens here.
Here’s some of the proper stuff:
Here’s some more:
And here’s even more:
But here’s the Chief Scientific Adviser’s version:
Whooooaaaah there, horsey! I guess the question is: “Where has the Chief Scientific Adviser’s office been getting its scientific advice?”
Well, perhaps they’re getting it from the same place that these people got theirs:
You see? Even Hollywood gets it wrong sometimes too. So at least the Chief Scientific Adviser is in good company.
Sorry. “Was” in good company.
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.