Oh you crazy bloggers. How dare you actually…..discuss….a scientific finding?

We would actually encourage you to write a comment to NEJM. NEJM is well known for its devotion for scientific debates on recently published papers. That would be a normal way to debate and discuss scientific findings. We would also have a possibility to answer on an “equal ground”.

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You probably joined the umpteen-million people who watched prior US President William Jefferson Clinton stump for Barack Obama this week. You may, however, have been sort of caught up in the moment coming as it did after the infomercial. It is worth reflecting a bit more on what he had to say on the topic of making decisions from a position of knowledge. Of the importance of gathering as much information as possible.

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This would be funny if it weren’t going to be used, extensively, to defend policies which continue to block the transition and advance of younger scientists. A News bit in Nature overviews a paper [pdf] which reports on the number of publications produced by younger and older scientists. From the abstract:

Those who worry about the aging of scientists usually believe that the younger they are the more creative and productive they will be. Using a large population of 13,680 university professors in Quebec, we show that, while scientific productivity rises sharply between 28 and 40, it increases at a slower pace between 41 and 50 and stabilizes afterward until retirement for the most active researchers. The average scientific impact per paper decreases linearly until 50-55 years old, but the average number of papers in highly cited journals and among highly cited papers rises continuously until retirement. Our results clearly show for the first time the natural history of the scientific productivity of scientists over their entire career and bring to light the fact that researchers over 55 still contribute significantly to the scientific community by producing high impact papers.

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SciBlog10Mcomm-DM100.jpgEndNote and competing bibliographic software packages are an awesome contribution to the scientific enterprise. Let’s just get that straight. I am a huge fan. I’ve run across colleagues as recently as the past 2 years who do not use such products and I absolutely. cannot. believe. they. are. such. Luddites!
Endnote version X2, however, pulls a Microsoft-esque blunder in screwing with one of the fundamental features dear to this user. And they have the nerve to tell others who complained that it is the user who is just not giving this kewl new approach a chance! ‘sclowns…

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There are only a few more days left for you to participate in the DrugMonkey Blog Reader Challenge. In case you’ve managed to miss the prior posts, we are joining the other ScienceBlogs’ participation in the DonorsChoose.org Bloggers Challenge.

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Barack Obama.
The Seed editorial endorsement from Adam Bly can be found here.
An unsurprising selection, but welcome nevertheless.

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Since many of our US readers are feeling jazzed about politics right about now, it is a good time to discuss Talking Points. You, DearReader, whether in the biomedical science biz or merely interested in some aspect of biomedical science, are the first line of attack in advocating for the continued health of our federally funded science enterprises. As we’ve all learned over the past 8 or even 16 years of US politics, crafting and honing messages to convey essential themes is critical to political success. Generating a mantra-chant and drumbeat of lemming feet on a consistent and limited set of bullet point topics is the way to cut through the noise and transmit the message. Call it framing or Talking Points or whatever you like.
I have a suggestion for how scientists may wish to approach their CongressCritters.

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NIMH has issued an RFA on Clinical Pharmacotherapy for PTSD: Single and Collaborative Studies (R34). From the summary:

Purpose. The sponsoring agencies jointly issue this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to stimulate research grant applications focused on pharmacological treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Medications along a continuum of development and testing (i.e., exploratory compounds ready for human testing, medications used in other areas of medicine and thought to be useful for a new indication (PTSD), and psychiatric medications currently used off-label to treat PTSD) are appropriate as the focus of a research grant application in response to this FOA. The sponsoring agencies seek to advance PTSD pharmacotherapy research by providing resources to better understand feasibility, tolerability, acceptance, safety, possible efficacy and risk/benefit ratios pertaining to symptoms and symptom severity, side effects, and treatment gains in functioning associated with available and novel medications. The sponsoring agencies anticipate the results of such studies will help identify potential medications suitable for larger scale efficacy, effectiveness and services research studies.

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The artist/scientist blogger occasionally known as bioephemera is offering up a very tasty prize as inducement to contribute to the BioE’s Classroom of Curiosity 2008 DonorsChoose Bloggers challenge.

So here it is, readers: I’m going to do something to persuade you to donate, too. I’m going to give away a painting. A new, original, watercolor painting that I am working on right now. It’s halfway done, in fact. What exactly is this mystery painting I’m doing to thank you, loyal readers? Well, the previous post is a clue. . . more to come.

Very nice. I’m not even sure I can recommend you donate to the DM Blog Readers Challenge (kidding!) with prizes like that floating around.

Apologies for my regular readers. This one will be almost entirely political with very little connection to my usual topics, although personal bigotry sometimes comes up in tenure cases.
I debated putting this up over on A Vote for Science but the overlords begged us to stick to science politics and not turn that into a generalized political ranting blog. [ Update 10/28/08: I gathered enough science-related thoughts to put another post up at A Vote for Science on this topic. ]
Consideration of California’s Proposition 8 and the arguments for and against does not encourage your humble narrator to rational discourse.

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[ This entry is cross-posted from DrugMonkey on Scienceblogs.com ]


Apologies for my regular readers. This one will be almost entirely political with very little connection to my usual topics, although personal bigotry sometimes comes up in tenure cases.

I debated putting this up over on A Vote for Science but the overlords begged us to stick to science politics and not turn that into a generalized political ranting blog.

Consideration of California’s Proposition 8 and the arguments for and against does not encourage your humble narrator to rational discourse.

From the California voter guide site linked above, here’s what we’re talking about:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

* Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
* Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Now, you all are big kids and I’m sure know all of the context here. If not, you can google it up in a trice.

What I’m concerned about here is the logic. It sucks. Completely and totally. I am waiting, begging someone, anyone, to explain to me how these efforts are not just about hatred for our fellow citizens.

I’ve been listening. Really, I have. So far, I have this.

Traditional Marriage. Hah! This argument betrays a woeful and perhaps intentional misunderstanding of the history of marriage and marriage-like social relationships.

Ruinzed Marriage. Really. I’m racking my brain trying to sort out all the threats to my marriage. In terms of things that affect my relationship with my spouse, gays also being able to marry is like eleventyfuckinggazillion, eightquadrillion and seventy six. Seriously. How exactly is this supposed to work? How does it compare to other marriage threatening events like money woes for the poor and working classes, mortgage threats, healthcare crises, stress of childrearing in our modern world, the “me” generation, etc, etc, et cetera ad nauseaum.

“Against Nature”. Please. A woeful misunderstanding of animal “nature”, the history and present status of human behavior, recent biological, sociological and psychological evidence on what it means to be “gay”. Also, I have a REALLY hard time getting past the comparison to the Loving v. Virginia US Supreme Court decision. You know, the one that struck down laws against marriage between individuals of different apparent races? In 1967? Do you remember your history? Did you live through that era? Are not the current arguments hauntingly familiar? Trust me, they are. Did inter-racial marriages RUINZ marriage, society and children? Hell no. We academics and scientists know this as well as anyone- I don’t know that I have stats but at a big research U community it becomes hard to find kids running around who do NOT have parents of different apparent races…. Go visit this blog for more expanded thoughts on the mixed-Americans and of course razib is always posting some mixed-race hottie or other who contributes positively to many people’s lives.

Child Rearing. Nope. First of all, any social stigma is….wait for it….caused by the anti-gay forces themselves! So score that one for the antis not for the supporters of civil rights for Gay-Americans. The science, meaning the child development specialists, trends toward “no problem”. Those of us who have children out and about in the child’s social world in a decent sized city also have our anecdotes. And from my limited anecdotes, no problem. Nice well adjusted children of Gay-American families. Gay-Americans who are also going out and fostering, adopting and caring for children who need parents. I have no problem there either- kids need parents and adoption is a VeryGoodThing in my book. Single parents, divorced parents, need-to-be-divorced-but-aren’t parents, jerk-parents, reluctant-parents….the list goes on and on of potentially adverse circumstances for children, many with actual evidence of harm. So why should a state be singling out one unsupported theoretical threat for a constitutional amendment?

I’m sure there are other classes of arguments and I’d like to hear something that sounds halfway rational. Have any of you Californians heard anything that makes any kind of sense?

Because from where I sit, all I hear that makes any consistent sense in any of this is the following:

“I just don’t like gay people, in fact I fear and hate them.”

Honestly. And here’s the thing. In our USian secular society we don’t have a policy of taking away rights of our fellow citizens just because we can or because we don’t like them. It is not the American way. Even if we have stumbled in our past or failed to live up to the great promises at present, we don’t do this.

You will recall from your history books that even slavery and women’s suffrage issues were surrounded by (crap) rationalizations. The argument was not “just because”. And now, most Americans find the argument that other people should be chattel because of the shade of their skin or their place of origin wrong. Most Americans think that women are quite capable of voting in a way that will not RUINZ! our country. We have, as a population, shed many, many of our bigotries and mis-beliefs in the name of equality, democracy and civil rights. We look back and often sneer at those wrongheaded and ignorant views of past generations.

Well, I’m sneering at the H8rs right about now. What on earth is wrong with you people?

Feel free to blog this issue, even if you aren’t a Californian and heck, even if you support Prop 8 (tell me where I’m wrong here, please). If you think this is wrongheaded you might even donate to the No on 8 effort.

[ This entry is cross-posted from DrugMonkey on Scienceblogs.com ]


Apologies for my regular readers. This one will be almost entirely political with very little connection to my usual topics, although personal bigotry sometimes comes up in tenure cases.

I debated putting this up over on A Vote for Science but the overlords begged us to stick to science politics and not turn that into a generalized political ranting blog.

Consideration of California’s Proposition 8 and the arguments for and against does not encourage your humble narrator to rational discourse.

From the California voter guide site linked above, here’s what we’re talking about:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

* Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
* Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Now, you all are big kids and I’m sure know all of the context here. If not, you can google it up in a trice.

What I’m concerned about here is the logic. It sucks. Completely and totally. I am waiting, begging someone, anyone, to explain to me how these efforts are not just about hatred for our fellow citizens.

I’ve been listening. Really, I have. So far, I have this.

Traditional Marriage. Hah! This argument betrays a woeful and perhaps intentional misunderstanding of the history of marriage and marriage-like social relationships.

Ruinzed Marriage. Really. I’m racking my brain trying to sort out all the threats to my marriage. In terms of things that affect my relationship with my spouse, gays also being able to marry is like eleventyfuckinggazillion, eightquadrillion and seventy six. Seriously. How exactly is this supposed to work? How does it compare to other marriage threatening events like money woes for the poor and working classes, mortgage threats, healthcare crises, stress of childrearing in our modern world, the “me” generation, etc, etc, et cetera ad nauseaum.

“Against Nature”. Please. A woeful misunderstanding of animal “nature”, the history and present status of human behavior, recent biological, sociological and psychological evidence on what it means to be “gay”. Also, I have a REALLY hard time getting past the comparison to the Loving v. Virginia US Supreme Court decision. You know, the one that struck down laws against marriage between individuals of different apparent races? In 1967? Do you remember your history? Did you live through that era? Are not the current arguments hauntingly familiar? Trust me, they are. Did inter-racial marriages RUINZ marriage, society and children? Hell no. We academics and scientists know this as well as anyone- I don’t know that I have stats but at a big research U community it becomes hard to find kids running around who do NOT have parents of different apparent races…. Go visit this blog for more expanded thoughts on the mixed-Americans and of course razib is always posting some mixed-race hottie or other who contributes positively to many people’s lives.

Child Rearing. Nope. First of all, any social stigma is….wait for it….caused by the anti-gay forces themselves! So score that one for the antis not for the supporters of civil rights for Gay-Americans. The science, meaning the child development specialists, trends toward “no problem”. Those of us who have children out and about in the child’s social world in a decent sized city also have our anecdotes. And from my limited anecdotes, no problem. Nice well adjusted children of Gay-American families. Gay-Americans who are also going out and fostering, adopting and caring for children who need parents. I have no problem there either- kids need parents and adoption is a VeryGoodThing in my book. Single parents, divorced parents, need-to-be-divorced-but-aren’t parents, jerk-parents, reluctant-parents….the list goes on and on of potentially adverse circumstances for children, many with actual evidence of harm. So why should a state be singling out one unsupported theoretical threat for a constitutional amendment?

I’m sure there are other classes of arguments and I’d like to hear something that sounds halfway rational. Have any of you Californians heard anything that makes any kind of sense?

Because from where I sit, all I hear that makes any consistent sense in any of this is the following:

“I just don’t like gay people, in fact I fear and hate them.”

Honestly. And here’s the thing. In our USian secular society we don’t have a policy of taking away rights of our fellow citizens just because we can or because we don’t like them. It is not the American way. Even if we have stumbled in our past or failed to live up to the great promises at present, we don’t do this.

You will recall from your history books that even slavery and women’s suffrage issues were surrounded by (crap) rationalizations. The argument was not “just because”. And now, most Americans find the argument that other people should be chattel because of the shade of their skin or their place of origin wrong. Most Americans think that women are quite capable of voting in a way that will not RUINZ! our country. We have, as a population, shed many, many of our bigotries and mis-beliefs in the name of equality, democracy and civil rights. We look back and often sneer at those wrongheaded and ignorant views of past generations.

Well, I’m sneering at the H8rs right about now. What on earth is wrong with you people?

Feel free to blog this issue, even if you aren’t a Californian and heck, even if you support Prop 8 (tell me where I’m wrong here, please). If you think this is wrongheaded you might even donate to the No on 8 effort.

Applicants are starting to receive their Summary Statements from grant reviews that took place in September/October NIH study sections. The Summary Statement is the written record of the review of your grant.
It contains the written reviews of the assigned reviewers (usually two, three, or four of them), as well as the Resume and Summary of Discussion, which is a summary written by the Scientific Review Officer of the discussion of your grant by the study section. This latter section is only there if your grant was discussed–i.e., not triaged without discussion.
A colleague of mine from another institution was kind enough to share with me the Summary Statement she just received, as she found it confusing and wanted to get my take on it.

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ScienceBlogs has chimed in with a $15,000 matching kitty for the various ScienceBlogs’ participation in the DonorsChoose.org Bloggers Challenge! Yay!

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Our good blog friend juniorprof has a post up on the latest round in the BigPharma/scientist payola stakes. I had referenced an investigation being conducted by Senator Charles Grassley in the context of Charles Nemeroff’s little boo-boo. Apparently this was just the beginning as juniorprof notes:

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