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The PowerPoint Problem in the Military — and Science?

In reference to a recent New York Times piece — "We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint" — blogger Biochem Belle at There and (Hopefully) Back Again muses whether PowerPoint "interfere[s] with the discussion of science." Drawing from the Times article, the blogger asks readers whether slide presentations disrupt discussions by employing a strictly linear format. According to the Times, PowerPoint has largely become the source of several jokes within the various branches of the armed forces — General Stanley McChrystal, leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan "gets two PowerPoint briefings in Kabul per day, plus three more during the week," as reported by Elisabeth Bumiller. General James Mattis of the Marines said "PowerPoint makes us stupid," during a military conference this month, according to the Times; one third of his briefings are delivered by PowerPoint, he said. "Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making," Bumiller writes. Biochem Belle is polling researchers on their thoughts of the "worst PowerPoint offenses," including options such as "entire paragraphs in 12 point font," "use of Comic Sans," and an "overwhelming amount of data crammed into a single slide." You can track the poll results here.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people 65 and older or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.