Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX) jarred geoscientists this year with his claim that earth science isn't a "hard science," and his effort to curb NASA spending in the field.

Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX) jarred geoscientists this year with his claim that earth science isn't a "hard science," and his effort to curb NASA spending in the field.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-sa 2.0)

ScienceInsider’s top 15 stories of 2015

The politics of climate change, controversy over a sexist comment made by a peer reviewer, and a reporter’s reflections on a complex cancer research story were among ScienceInsider’s most-read items this year. Without further ado, here is our top 15 list for 2015:

1. U.S. Senate votes on whether climate change is a hoax. A follow-up story put that vote in context, and asked: Did anybody really win?

2. A reviewer’s suggestion that a female author find a male co-author for her paper sparked a social media storm.

3. Many readers reacted strongly to a former researcher’s announcement that he wouldn’t license his bioinformatics software to scientists in immigrant-friendly nations.

4. It pays to be concise, suggested a study that found that papers with shorter titles tend to get more citations.

5. An outbreak of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) in South Korea was traced to a single “superspreader”a businessman who transmitted the virus to more than 20 people.

6. A neuroscientist who had been the target of animal rights groups announced he was giving up on primate research, citing a lack of support from the scientific community.

7. Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX) got a rocky reaction from geoscientists after he asserted during a hearing that the earth sciences are not “hard science.”

8. Chronic fatigue syndrome got a new name this year: systemic exertion intolerance disease, or SEID.

9. Critics blasted China’s decision to award its top science prize to a project on network computing that they argued was undeserving.

10. Surf’s up in the Netherlands, where researchers unveiled a facility that produces the world’s largest artificial waves.

11. The oil and gas industry’s practice of injecting waste deep into the earth has turned once sleepy landscapes in Kansas and Oklahoma into a hotbed for human-induced earthquakes.

12. After covering a controversial cancer study that put both the authors and reporters in the critics’ crosshairs, Science’s Jennifer Couzin-Frankel wondered: Had I gotten it wrong? Had the authors?

13. The World Health Organization offered this handy list of what may be the world’s most dangerous pathogens.

14. When apparently faked data prompted Science to retract—without the lead author’s consent—a high-profile paper that purported to show that canvassers could persuade people to change their views on gay marriage, the move drew headlines.

15. Physicist Shuji Nakamura, who won a Nobel Prize in 2014 for his part in inventing the blue light-emitting diode (LED), had some harsh words about how his former homeland, Japan, treats technology pioneers and organizes its education system.

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