Recommended reads #87


A ban on bans against laptop bans. Or something like that.

Folks often think their grades are bimodally distributed when they actually are normally distributed.

It’s not Powerpoint’s fault.

Is it a problem that changes in our media landscape can bring a lot of attention to critiques of newly published research?*

Is academia waking up to the problem of sexual harassment? This interview with Kate Clancy provides some quality perspective and insight.

A carefully written piece in Nature describes income inequality among scientists in the US.

Here’s a great idea: If you’re a grad student, when you’re dealing with folks outside academia, don’t call yourself a grad student. Might as well to call yourself a research assistant, or a teaching assistant, or a something else, which has more meaning to (most) people, who mistakenly think that grad school in science is not a job.

Women 1.5 Times More Likely to Leave STEM Pipeline after Calculus Compared to Men

A very simple assignment can substantially change students’ self-identity as scientists.

Do you know about the World Nomad Games? I didn’t, until I saw the image (below), and then I read up on them.

Another paper is getting some press showing that student teaching evaluations have nothing to to with how much students learn.

If you’re teaching the evolution of plant reproduction in introductory biology, don’t trust your textbook. Here’s a paper in Bioscience that sets the record straight.

Solid arguments for genuine research experiences for all undergraduates.

An easy guide to writing the great American novel. (This takes a piece of hide out of Jonathan Safran Foer, which I don’t know if is justified as I haven’t read it. Regardless, it’s entertaining and hard to argue with a lot of the cliches that pervade the novels that come from a certain demographic. Or is it about Jonathan Franzen? Or Jonathan Lethem? It doesn’t matter, now does it?)

“The five things no one will tell you about why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color.” This is so spot on. I think it’s a critical read if you’re on a search committee. The title of the piece is off, of course, because people are probably telling you these things often, but if you’re not listening, then you don’t hear it. (The titles of pieces like this are not the fault of the authors, and the mismatch between the title of a piece and its content is usually by design of the editor, who is picking a title to get traffic rather than to actually represent the piece.)

A recent research paper found that sometimes folks can’t distinguish computer-generated peer reviews from the real thing. (I found about this through a story in Times Higher Education that someone shared. But THE has a habit of not paying their authors even though they have a lot of advertising revenue, so why the heck should I link to them?)

A perfectly well-reasoned piece came out in the NY Times about how we should stop grading students on a curve. Okay, great point. Now, who grades on a curve? This is really a problem?


image: J-P Kärnä

Do you live one near of the few remaining flying saucer homes? Looks roadtrip worthy to me!

Stephen Heard explains why you should keep an extraordinarily detailed master CV with everything on it. And when something happens, change the CV before you forget. It feels dopey to update your CV all the time, but it’s even dopier to not have stuff on your CV that you should because you forgot to add it.

How to keep bicycles from getting damaged during the delivery process? Put a picture of a TV on the side of the box. I thought this was an interesting fact.

What can I do today to create a more inclusive community?” It’s written for computer science, but much of it can be generalized.

Ooooh! We have a new metric for research impact! RCR, the relative citation ratio! I’m sure this metric will fix ever single one of the problems that have come from using earlier metrics.

The sugar industry paid for favorable research.

The video that shows you the evolution of antibiotic resistance as it evolves is stunning. This has really made the rounds but you might not have seen it yet.

A professor from the University of St. Louis just won substantial damages against the university, as a jury found that she was denied tenure because of gender bias, and that the university related against her because she spoke out against a hostile climate on campus.

The movie that I shared the trailer for two weeks ago just got reviewed in the New York Times. Starving the Beast. About the defunding of higher education in the US.

538 talks college tuition.

Are big conservation groups like the IUCN still relevant?

Five things related to this asteroid approaching our planet which we desperately hope may narrowly miss that is the upcoming US election:

Hillary Clinton’s concrete shoes. It’s by Garrison Keillor. Yeah, I know, but read it anyway.

The crisis at the New York Times.

“On your way to the camps, I just want you to know…

Ta-Nehisi Coates fact-checks assertions about the Trump campaign and describes what is going on, and not going on, in our media about this election.

An eight point brief for lesser-evil voting: “8) Conclusion: by dismissing a “lesser evil” electoral logic and thereby increasing the potential for Clinton’s defeat the left will undermine what should be at the core of what it claims to be attempting to achieve.” The second author on this is Noam Chomsky. Just sayin’. If you have liked other arguments of Chomsky, and are planning to not show up and vote for Clinton, please please read this with an open mind.

If you read any of those five  pieces above, you can cleanse mind with this refreshing and heartwarming piece, “Welcoming Omar Khadr to The King’s University.”

Have a great weekend! I’m currently off to the International Congress of Entomology. If you happen to be there, please do say hi! (I might be in my women-in-science shirt.)



*I think, sort of yes-ish in certain circumstances. There is clearly a disparity in the visibility of critiques that may be independent of the quality of the critique. Some people are positioned to launch major critiques that would have low validity but get lots of attention, and other people might have very substantial critiques that might fail to gain attention not based on the quality of the argument but because of the visibility of the platform. That’s a problem. But is it a good thing that critiques of clearly flawed work are more capable of reaching the scientific audience? Of course that’s good.

2 thoughts on “Recommended reads #87

  1. “Now, who grades on a curve? This is really a problem?”

    When I was an undergrad math major at Yale (2008-2012), most of my math classes were graded on curve, no matter the size of the class or the ratio of undergrads (typically taking it for the first time) to grads (typically taking it for the second time, to prepare for their exams). It epically sucked. My understanding from my chem major friends was that their classes were also graded on a curve, at least at the intro and intermediate levels. Princeton used to grade all classes on a curve, but that policy was reversed in 2014, according to Google at least. I’m certainly glad this issue is being discussed!

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