Recommended reads #66


Short answers to hard questions about climate change. This is the best short summary of the state of our knowledge that I think I’ve read lately. Definitely built for sharing.

A conversation about writing, between Osita Nwanevu and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

A conversation about space and science between Chris Hadfield and Randall Munroe.

A conversation about climate change between Bill Clinton and Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is good stuff.

“Here’s the secret to being a male feminist: supporting women is great, but what I really need is for you to worry about men.

Do you know about Adriaen Coenen’s Fish Book, finished in 1580? Part natural history, part cultural history, part outsider art, it’s nuts.

There are a few folks out there that are not including the names of the journals from their publication list. Claus Wilke thinks this stinks.

Giving students powerpoint from class doesn’t change attendance, but it does alter exam performance — for the worse.

The h-index is a lie.

On academic pandering.

The great mismatch. This is the one thing I’m pointing to about the Affirmative Action thing that’s happening in the US right now.

This story is almost too hilarious and crazy to be true. Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album is allegedly epic. Also, they’ve produced only a single copy, accompanied with a detailed contract about how copies cannot be sold. (In theory, the owner can release it for free, or just sit on it and deprive the world of the album.) It sold, apparently for a couple million dollars. The owner has yet to listen to it. Who is the new owner? Perhaps one of the worst people in the world, Martin Shkreli, the guy who bought the rights to an inexpensive but rarely-used drug needed by HIV patients and raised the price by 4000%. Here’s the full account. Entertaining and worthwhile.

An sidenote to the Wu-Tang album affair is that the band is contractually allowed one attempted heist or caper to reclaim the album from the buyer, which will allow the band to reclaim ownership of the album. This heist may also be undertaken by Bill Murray, but nobody else. I imagine they’d be hiring Wes Anderson to film the caper.

This is one of the most insightful things I’ve read about understanding how new media has changed legacy media. If you’re trying to get a handle on what’s happening to TV, newspapers, and old school websites as social media is allowing people and organizations to make their own news on their own, this is great. On one hand, it might make you want to quit the internet. On the other hand, it might make you want to be the one that makes news.

15 things I learned about Islam and British values being a gay boy living opposite a mosque.

This is cool – people in San Diego can now fly in and out of the Tijuana airport without having to mess with the hours-long ordeal of the border crossing. If your destination is San Diego, then flying in and out of Tijuana might make more sense, financially and hassle-wise.

Here’s a stunning visualization from NASA showing carbon dioxide cycling in the atmosphere throughout the year. If you’re teaching the carbon cycle, I imagine this could be really enlightening.

California governor Jerry Brown and his mission for progress in climate talks. Proud to be a Californian.

The Executive Editor of Journal of Ecology talks with the former president of the Ecological Society of America about the ESA’s new publishing deal with Wiley.

The “ghost boats” floating away from North Korea to Japan are a mystery. Why and how did all of these people die?

The loss of risky research is problematic.

We can save atheism from the New Atheists. Yes, more of this please.

Did you know that the US had a Fossil Cycad National Monument, that was so looted and vandalized so badly that nothing was left, and it was eventually delisted? My gosh. I had no idea.

Sometimes prose elevates itself to poetry. The human flock.

A historian reads the American Girl books and discovers that they’re not hideous.

Why it’s so hard for Californians to get admitted to their public universities. (It’s still quite easy to get into mine, but ours doesn’t offer the social capital that you get from the UCs and some other CSUs.)

Four tough things columnists should do before writing about universities. This is a great response to yet another op-ed about higher education by a person who doesn’t really understand higher education.

Everyone is an internet scientist now. The internet has arrived as part of academics and if you publish a paper that is of interest (or if you are a Nobel prize winner, or if you dispute a claim, etc.) you will see discussion of that paper within a day or two on the blogs. This is now a fact of life.”

Here are the numbers from the NSF Division of Environmental Biology from 2015. Lots of numbers. It turns out that, for one year, primarily undergraduate institutions were getting funded as the same rate as everybody else. That was just a fluke, though. By the way, if you’re applying to NSF Bio, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be reading their highly informative blogs.

Why so many minority millennials can’t get ahead.

If you’re an ecologist, and haven’t been on an OTS course, here’s something to consider:

Have a great weekend, presumably a lot of us will be grading.

One thought on “Recommended reads #66

  1. “Giving students powerpoint from class doesn’t change attendance, but it does alter exam performance — for the worse.” The major concern that I have with using any pedagogy research to inform my teaching is that I am skeptical of the quality of the research itself. So It’s probably easy to cherry pick results that conform to one’s opinion/experience. Can we conclude that PowerPoint is bad for students from this study? Well, first, Fisher emphasized over and over that we haven’t discovered knowledge from the P-values of a single study. Setting that aside, and looking at the results, the exam scores in the semester that students had access to PPT slides were HIGHER (not worse) for all three units. But because the differences were not “significant” the authors incorrectly concluded “Access to partial slides did not result in greater academic achievement”. The authors also compared scores between students who took PPT notes to class v. those that did not and found that the group taking PPT notes had a lower average for all four units, two of which were “statistically significant.” In addition to many other problems in design and analysis, in neither comparison did the authors control for obvious confounders such as baseline differences in exam scores. So the most generous (and statistically naive) conclusion from this study is that while access to PPT slides does not alter exam performance (a conclusion conveniently omitted from the abstract) using printed PPT slide handouts to take in-class notes results in lower exam scores.

    I would love to use evidence-based teaching practices but I don’t have the time to vet the pedagogy literature and am not aware of a resource that does this or even of papers that have critically looked at the field as a whole. Which is too bad.

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