crossposting from DrugMonkey on Scienceblogs.com….

A brand new science blogging collective has launched itself today. I encourage you to stroll on over to http://scientopia.org/blogs and take a look-see. You may even want to save a bookmark or two.

The vision statement reads as follows:

Scientopia is a collective of people who write about science because they love to do so. It is a community, held together by mutual respect and operated by consensus, in which people can write, educate, discuss, and learn about science and the process of doing science. In this we explore the interplay between scientific issues and other parts of our lives with the shared goal of making science more accessible.

As a community, we strive to be welcoming of anyone with an interest in science and its place in our world, regardless of any feature, whether extrinsic or intrinsic, which may act or have historically acted as a barrier to full participation in science or discourses about science.

Hippie statements aside, I think you will find that Scientopia has some interesting voices lined up for your reading pleasure. So go take a look.

cross posting from DrugMonkey at Scienceblogs:
I have occasionally mentioned that I really like the way that Nature Publishing Group (NPG) have promoted the online discussion of scientific research articles. After all, the publication of an article is merely the starting point and the authors’ interpretations of their data are only part of a larger set. Science proceeds best when we collaborate with our data, our ideas, our interpretations and our conclusions. Internet technologies can assist with this process. Indeed, these technologies already are assisting and have been doing so for some time. How many times in the last month have you used email to discuss a figure or a paper with a colleague? A ubiquitous phenomenon, is it not? Yeah, well when I started graduate school there was no email*.

I have also, I confess, waxed slightly critical of the execution of online paper discussion. Although I mostly bash NPG because they leave so much tasty chum lying in the water, I am generally critical; PLoS hasn’t really managed to do much better than the NPG titles when it comes to consistent online discussion.

Science blogs are slightly better at generating robust discussion of an article which in some cases feels a little more like journal club. This latter is a touchstone target for this behavior, IMNSHO. Science blogs suffer, however, from a lack of focus and a lack of comprehensive coverage. Researchblogging.org is a focal portal to select the journal article discussions out from the cacophony of a typical blog but again, it tends to suffer from coverage issues. The audience is presumed to be a general audience by most science bloggers and therefore they tend to select topics of general interest.

This brings me to a new internet creation: The Third Reviewer

ThirdReviewGrab.png

The first thing you will notice is the list of journals which publish scientific articles in the neurosciences in the tabs at the top. The site grabs a Table of Contents feed and lists each article as a commentable link/entry. The comprehensive coverage problem is solved.

The site allows anonymous commenting. This is huge. It solves what I think is the major problem with the approach of publishing houses to this topic. Like it or not, people are less likely to openly comment on papers in a way that could come back to nail them. Yes, even if they are totally and completely polite, their criticism is on the up and up and 80% of the field agrees with it.

The snooty nosed types allege that anonymous commenting will make such an effort descend into meaningless drivel, ad hominem attacks and nastiness. Those of us who actually discuss papers in online venues that permit anonymous commenting allege that such risks are vastly overblown and that a light hand of moderation, plus social tone-setting, takes care of any problems that might arise.

The Third Reviewer will test these competing hypotheses. And you know I’m excited about that!
__
*yes, it had been developed but it was not in widespread academic use at that point.

N.b. Tragically, the owners of the movie Downfall have gone after many of the YouTube mashups, including the one from which “The Third Reviewer” derives. Has anyone seen it pop up on another host?

cross posting from DrugMonkey at Scienceblogs:
I have occasionally mentioned that I really like the way that Nature Publishing Group (NPG) have promoted the online discussion of scientific research articles. After all, the publication of an article is merely the starting point and the authors’ interpretations of their data are only part of a larger set. Science proceeds best when we collaborate with our data, our ideas, our interpretations and our conclusions. Internet technologies can assist with this process. Indeed, these technologies already are assisting and have been doing so for some time. How many times in the last month have you used email to discuss a figure or a paper with a colleague? A ubiquitous phenomenon, is it not? Yeah, well when I started graduate school there was no email*.

I have also, I confess, waxed slightly critical of the execution of online paper discussion. Although I mostly bash NPG because they leave so much tasty chum lying in the water, I am generally critical; PLoS hasn’t really managed to do much better than the NPG titles when it comes to consistent online discussion.

Science blogs are slightly better at generating robust discussion of an article which in some cases feels a little more like journal club. This latter is a touchstone target for this behavior, IMNSHO. Science blogs suffer, however, from a lack of focus and a lack of comprehensive coverage. Researchblogging.org is a focal portal to select the journal article discussions out from the cacophony of a typical blog but again, it tends to suffer from coverage issues. The audience is presumed to be a general audience by most science bloggers and therefore they tend to select topics of general interest.

This brings me to a new internet creation: The Third Reviewer

ThirdReviewGrab.png

The first thing you will notice is the list of journals which publish scientific articles in the neurosciences in the tabs at the top. The site grabs a Table of Contents feed and lists each article as a commentable link/entry. The comprehensive coverage problem is solved.

The site allows anonymous commenting. This is huge. It solves what I think is the major problem with the approach of publishing houses to this topic. Like it or not, people are less likely to openly comment on papers in a way that could come back to nail them. Yes, even if they are totally and completely polite, their criticism is on the up and up and 80% of the field agrees with it.

The snooty nosed types allege that anonymous commenting will make such an effort descend into meaningless drivel, ad hominem attacks and nastiness. Those of us who actually discuss papers in online venues that permit anonymous commenting allege that such risks are vastly overblown and that a light hand of moderation, plus social tone-setting, takes care of any problems that might arise.

The Third Reviewer will test these competing hypotheses. And you know I’m excited about that!
__
*yes, it had been developed but it was not in widespread academic use at that point.

N.b. Tragically, the owners of the movie Downfall have gone after many of the YouTube mashups, including the one from which “The Third Reviewer” derives. Has anyone seen it pop up on another host?

[ 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.