November 30, 2010
The latest recruit to Scienceblogs.com is Dr. Jeffrey H. Toney . His blurb says he
…is an educator and a scientist whose career has spanned academia and the pharmaceutical industry. He serves as the dean of the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University. He is dedicated to strengthening public appreciation of the beauty and impact of science in our daily lives.
November 30, 2010
If you put more than about 6 academically trained people on a task of joint action, it invariably turns into a faculty meeting. Complete with all the archetypes.
November 29, 2010
Ran across this one via a link dropped at the Comrade PhysioProf blog. I think you will enjoy Grumpy rumblings of the untenured, penned by nicole&maggie. A little selection of goodness to whet your appetite…
Is anyone else tired of having her consciousness raised to a dizzying height? How come I’m always the one pointing out the sexism all around me? I’m getting tired of waving the flag. Can’t I go back to my pre-radical-grad-school level of only mild awareness?
And while we’re on the topic of things that make me mad about publishing, there has rightly been much outcry on the internet about publishers’ whitewashing of book covers; in other words, portraying characters who are clearly described as non-white in the book by using white models on the cover.
One thing I took away from this chapter was the idea of treating yourself as a research subject and trying different things, recording the results to see what is most effective in getting the desired behavior (in this case, writing) from yourself. I am giving myself more permission to do whatever works this year, even if it seems weird. In a memoir I recently read, a creative writer talks about how he finally managed to work out a routine that produced excellent results every time — but it was really complex. It involved turning out all the lights, jogging in circles, lying on the floor, etc. His behavior, explained out of context, seems… well… maybe a bit insane. But the thing is, I understood how he had gotten there. I don’t want to have to go that far, but I’m giving myself more permission to engage in whatever rituals or behaviors will produce results (publications).
I may really not trust doctors, sorrowing in the lack of decent statistics training for the majority, but I do know how to use PubMed and I have more trust in the peer-reviewed scientific method than I have for claims of random crackpots on the internet.
Man… there are a LOT of anger issues out there. Really makes me second guess all the calls for allowing professors to have guns on campus. (What’s that, that’s not an issue on your campus?) And the language… why do academics need to swear so much?
Is it a selection or a treatment effect? Should I get out now, or is it too late?
November 27, 2010
Every since the infamous recipe war between Dr. Isis and PhysioProf, I kept meaning to get into RecipesForTheRestOfUs. Those of us who can’t find the time to actually cook gourmet multi-course extravaganzas anymore. Yesterday, I made this, which is simplicity itself in the CrockPot / slow cooker.
16 oz of split peas, pick em over a little in a strainer and toss ’em in the pot
~5 cloves of garlic (slightly smooshed, naturally)
-1 cup of chopped onion
-1 large carrot halved lengthwise and sliced
I browned these items lightly in a frying pan and tossed them in
1/2 c cubed ham
fresh sage and fresh oregano- I didn’t put enough in I think- ~6 sage leaves torn up & similar volume of oregano.
1/2 tsp salt (and then I leave the black pepper to personal taste)
add quart of chicken stock, half quart of water
5.5-6 hrs on high did the trick
I like it smooshed up a bit so give it a vigorous stirring if that’s your preference.
November 25, 2010
For all the online peeps, I am grateful on this day of Thanksgiving in the US.
For all the Scientopians and Sciblings and all of our MortalBlogEnemies at Nature Blog Network, Discover Blogs, PLoS blogs, Wired Blogs and most especially Lab Spaces, I am thankful.
All of the privateer blogs as well, for JUNIORPROF and DrDrA and Anonymoustache and Scribbler and AA and DirkH and everyone else who keeps writing interesting stuff to read….I thank you for your efforts to educate and entertain us all.
Above all else, the commenters. Oh am I ever thankful for the beccas and the Uncle Sollie Rivlins and daedalus2us and assorted jokers and snarkers…and the serious ones too.
November 23, 2010
Oh, not ALL y’all. Oh no. Just the black ones.
BikeMonkey Guest PostJezebel reports:
At approximately 10:30PM club management called the owner to say that they saw individuals on line whom they recognized as “local gang bangers” (their words not mine). In response to this, the club owner directed the bouncers to only let individuals with a Harvard or Yale ID in to the club. At this point Kwame and I argued that no alumnus would have his or her expired college ID with them and reiterated that the reason we did the party on a pre-sold basis with strict admittance based solely on the guest list was to guarantee that the only attendees were Harvard and Yale alumni, grad students and their close friends and to ensure that no “bad seeds” could contaminate our party. However, given that this was the club’s opening weekend, the owner was particularly sensitive to anything going wrong.
Oh, something went wrong all right, you done outed yourself as a stupid bigot.
The Hah-vah Crimson verifies the account:
Natalia N. Pearson-Farrer, a second-year Harvard Law School student, said she arrived at the club at 10:30 p.m. to see a crowd of predominantly black Harvard and Yale students and alumni dressed in cocktail attire. By the time she got in, she said she was surprised to see the bouncers had let very few people in, and soon after, the club told patrons it was shutting down because of technical difficulties. After the truth was circulated, though, she said she felt frustrated and embarrassed.
You know, while you all are entertaining yourself complaining about the TSA body scans and crotch grabbing and laughing along with @TSAgov and all. Might want to think about that a little bit…
November 23, 2010
Using these kinds of metrics only encourages incremental publications and other forms of literature pollution.
I never understand such remarks and I am looking for my readers to ‘splain to me exactly what the problem is here.
As Scicurious was just remarking thankfully, we live in an era in which the ability to rapidly find publications that present scientific data on a given topic is quite good. Far superior to what was available only 2-3 short decades ago. To some extent the more focused the data in a single paper are, the easier it is to actually find. Why? Because the Abstract that is available in PubMed is limited and the more you squeeze into the paper, the less reflective the Abstract (or Title for that matter) can be. So you run the risk of missing a figure that might be really important to your work if it was only a tangential part of a particular paper.
When I am building a scientific argument or rationale, whether in my own head, for a grant application or for a scientific manuscript, I am looking to sort through specific findings in a synthetic manner. I am focused on Figure 3 from Publication A; Figure 1 from Publication B; Table 2 from Publication C; off-hand remark in Publication D…etc. All leavened by caveats X, Y or Z about the methodologies, controls or limits that attend each paper. That’s how we come to a greater understanding of the natural world.
We most certainly do not increase our understanding in a fundamental way because a single article in Science or Nature, jampacked with poorly described, unvalidated, weakly controlled data from machines that go Ping! knocks it out of the park. We don’t. The knock-your-socks-off pubs are unbelievably infrequent in contrast to the publishing rate for Nature or Science.
Once upon a time I read a lot of literature in the Journal of Experimental Psychology titles and the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Oh. My. God. you wanna talk about some navel inspecting, Bunny Hopping, internally focused academic fields? I still have scars. Anyway, those journals (especially JEAB) would contain papers with unending numbers of microscopically-different experiments on
how many angels could dance on the head of a pin how pigeons pecked at keys to get grain under different conditions. Or how rats pressed a lever for a food pellet. Let me tell you, those people thought that this was the only way to publish proper science. To knock it out of the park with pedantry on each and every manuscript that was published.
And they were just as wrong about the way fundamental understanding of a scientific topic advances.
Science advances by data. Step by step, built on the random walks that motivate individual members of the scientific workforce. Pulled together in synthesis by those self-same workers as they move on to their next studies.
So I return to this comment about incremental publication and pollution of the literature to wonder- where is the cost? What does it hurt to publish “incrementally”? This notion of “a complete story” is fiction. And not even a very believable fiction.
On the other side, I do see a great deal of cost involved with excessive disdain for “incremental publication”. The cost of the GlamourMag approach and the cost of the “complete story” fiction is the failure to publish data that are helpful to someone else. Even if it is helpful in a way that you didn’t foresee, but usually because it keeps other people from wasting so much time. If you are working in an area that is so great, impactful and important then it is axiomatic that other someones are going to be working with the same models and approaches to target similar questions. So they are going to fall straight into the same traps that you (or your lab) did. Or they are going to need the same validation and control studies, the same troubleshooting assays, the same scientific footbridge.
If these “incremental” studies or “polluting” data sets do not end up in the literature, then history is bound to repeat itself.
And that, Dear Reader, is a waste of time and Dr. Berg’s carefully husbanded NIH Grant money.