Recommended reads #45


This video clip showing aggressive mimicry by the Persian Horned Viper is amazing.

University Signs Slavic Languages Professor to Five Year, $52 Million Contract

Here’s a tremendously useful Guide for Scientists on Giving Comments to Journalists.

The Emu War:

The machine-gunners’ dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month…. If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world…They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop.

It’s a problem when people don’t understand (or choose to not bother to understand) mathematical models of evolution.

“A perverse focus on research cash and high-impact publications threatens academics’ careers and the aims of science itself.” Well, duh. But it’s nice to see this in Times Higher Education, regardless of its obviousness to those who are scienceing.

Do brilliant things occur to you while you’re washing the dishes? If so, here’s the job for you: Associate Dean of Eureka Moments.

Three kinda famous-ish people (who I’ve barely heard of, who are known from making youtube videos), interviewed the President of the United States. One of them wrote about the experience, and it puts “legacy media” vs. emerging media in perspective.

Following that thread, Adrian Smith just had a paper come out about fertility signaling in ants. When the paper came out, he released a 4-minute youtube video that explains the paper for a broader audience. It’s quite good. You might know Adrian from such podcasts as The Age of Discovery, previously mentioned in these pages.

Also on the same theme: A science communication course. In the rainforest. I have worked with the people doing this course from various encounters over the years, and I can only imagine this will be a great learning experience. This is no surprise as OTS courses have a reputation for excellence. If you have the time this upcoming summer and you’re interested in “science communication,” check it out.

I owe it all to Chabot College,” says Tom Hanks. (He’s a well-known movie actor, if you’re more of a Hank Green kind of person.) If you ever look down your nose at the community college in your neighborhood, please read this piece and then, please reconsider. By the way, the movie inspired by his time at Chabot College (Larry Crowne) was filmed on my campus. Yes, people were very excited that Tom Hanks was on campus at the time. Even if he does live just 30 minutes up the road. LA is weird that way.

The citation revolution will not be televised: the end of papers and the rise of data. This is more of a wish than a description of the future. But it does show a model of how, if people make it happen, that people can get credit for data. The end of papers? Umm.

A reading seminar where every student reads, writes and contributes to the discussion in class. Unlike the preceding link, this isn’t about a utopia, and is a lot more pragmatic.

Does the myth of the solo genius scientist contribute to imposter syndrome?

Holy moly, rice has a lot of arsenic in it. As people eating predatory marine fish should be worrying about Hg, it looks like maybe those of us eating rice might want to think about As. Brown rice has more dietary fiber, yes, but also a lot more As. Tradeoffs are everywhere, aren’t they?

What’s a “publication power-of-attorney,” and why should you have one?

A bunch of Australian journal editors got together and wrote a document explaining how there needs to be some kind of credit, someway somehow, for doing peer review.

Did you know that when Behavioral Ecology switched to double-blind review, it increased the proportion of female first authors? This makes me want to think more consciously every time I write a review, and every time I consider reviews as an editor. What are the specific forms of the anti-female bias in the reviewing process? Is this because the reviews are targeting the credentials of the author rather than the quality of the work, or because the perceived quality of the work is lower because of the gender of the first author? I am also curious if American Naturalist will have the same results years from now.

Why journals sometimes are slow processing papers: look in the mirror.

Do you know about Software Carpentry bootcamps? Here’s a reflection from an instructor. I don’t really know the people who do this personally, but they look like they’re doing amazing and effective work with the pure intention of empowering people with useful tools. If I had a critical mass of participants, I’d be all over this.

Darwin’s hypothesis about inbreeding depression is tested within Darwin’s own pedigree.


For links, thanks to Lee Dugatkin, Russell Graham, Nate Sanders, and a comment from the previous recreads post.

One thought on “Recommended reads #45

  1. You might be pleasantly surprised about the amount of demand for a SWC workshop! We just hosted a Women in Science and Engineering one. When we were organizing it, Pat Schloss and I had no idea how much demand there’d be. As Christie wrote in her post, we ended up filling all 70 spots in 8 hours. And, as it was wrapping up, people were already asking us when the Data Carpentry workshop would be!

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