Good Worldwide Launches Leaps.org to Rebuild Public Trust in Science and Journalism

MARCH 15, 2021 -- LeapsMag, the award-winning online magazine created to encourage public discussion about scientific innovation, re-emerges today as Leaps.org, a non- profit media initiative within the Good Worldwide ecosystem, dedicated to rebuilding public trust in science as a force for good and fostering dialogue about the ethical implications of new breakthroughs. Leaps.org's news and commentary cover a wide range of topics including health and medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, research and development, space exploration, and environmental concerns. Notable contributors and interviewees include neuroscientist Sam Harris, geneticist George Church, Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel, author Steven Pinker, virologist Angela Rasmussen, and many others.

Science and the media that report on it are facing unprecedented mistrust and suspicion, yet at the same time the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a growing public appetite for accessible information about scientific developments. President Biden has tasked his Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy with improving public trust in science as one of his key goals. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported in January that roughly 3 in 10 U.S. health care workers express hesitancy about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. A September 2020 Pew Research Center study found that "majorities across 18 of the 20 publics say that limited public understanding is a problem for coverage of scientific research."

And Edelman Worldwide released global survey results showing that trust in scientists and journalists is down compared with last year, and trust in all information sources is at record lows: "In a world of misinformation and media echo chambers," Edelman stated, "how can we rebuild the trust needed to enable the acceptance of science and innovation to create a brighter future for humanity?"

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Kira Peikoff

Kira Peikoff is the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Nautilus, Popular Mechanics, The New York Academy of Sciences, and other outlets. She is also the author of four suspense novels that explore controversial issues arising from scientific innovation: Living Proof, No Time to Die, Die Again Tomorrow, and Mother Knows Best. Peikoff holds a B.A. in Journalism from New York University and an M.S. in Bioethics from Columbia University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two young sons. Follow her on Twitter @KiraPeikoff.

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Astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency displays Extra Dwarf Pak Choi plants growing aboard the International Space Station. The plants were grown for the Veggie study which is exploring space agriculture as a way to sustain astronauts on future missions to the Moon or Mars.

Johnson Space Center/NASA

Astronauts at the International Space Station today depend on pre-packaged, freeze-dried food, plus some fresh produce thanks to regular resupply missions. This supply chain, however, will not be available on trips further out, such as the moon or Mars. So what are astronauts on long missions going to eat?

Going by the options available now, says Christel Paille, an engineer at the European Space Agency, a lunar expedition is likely to have only dehydrated foods. “So no more fresh product, and a limited amount of already hydrated product in cans.”

For the Mars mission, the situation is a bit more complex, she says. Prepackaged food could still constitute most of their food, “but combined with [on site] production of certain food products…to get them fresh.” A Mars mission isn’t right around the corner, but scientists are currently working on solutions for how to feed those astronauts. A number of boundary-pushing efforts are now underway.

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Payal Dhar
Payal is a writer based in New Delhi who has been covering science, technology, and society since 1998.

A brain expert weighs in on the cognitive biases that hold us back from adjusting to the new reality of Omicron.

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

We are sticking our heads into the sand of reality on Omicron, and the results may be catastrophic.

Omicron is over 4 times more infectious than Delta. The Pfizer two-shot vaccine offers only 33% protection from infection. A Pfizer booster vaccine does raises protection to about 75%, but wanes to around 30-40 percent 10 weeks after the booster.

The only silver lining is that Omicron appears to cause a milder illness than Delta. Yet the World Health Organization has warned about the “mildness” narrative.

That’s because the much faster disease transmission and vaccine escape undercut the less severe overall nature of Omicron. That’s why hospitals have a large probability of being overwhelmed, as the Center for Disease Control warned, in this major Omicron wave.

Yet despite this very serious threat, we see the lack of real action. The federal government tightened international travel guidelines and is promoting boosters. Certainly, it’s crucial to get as many people to get their booster – and initial vaccine doses – as soon as possible. But the government is not taking the steps that would be the real game-changers.

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Gleb Tsipursky
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally recognized thought leader on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic and Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. He co-founded the Pro-Truth Pledge project.