Recommended reads #97


Alan Townsend wrote an op-ed that I think you really need to read: Science might save my daughter. Don’t kill it. (And in his blog, which I absolutely love and have linked to on previous occasions, he explains why he wrote the piece.)

Science censorship is a global issue – a short letter to Nature written by three Aussie ecologists.

Unlearning descriptive statistics. I thought this was really interesting. It makes the case that a lot of the descriptive statistics we use are there essentially because they’re the ingredients for parametric tests that we use, and themselves might not have the utility that we ascribe to them. What do they really describe? This stuff is elementary, but it’s also not the way a lot of people think and teach on a day to day basis.

The New York Times has a piece explaining how more universities are using analytics to conduct student advising. (For what it’s worth, my take on this is that it’s kind of like flying a plane. If you have someone in the pilot seat who isn’t an expert, you’ll want to turn on the autopilot. But then again, if you have someone up there who is really knowing what they are doing, they will benefit from being informed by the flight computer but probably can land more safely and smoothly than the machine. From the student perspective, getting bad academic advising can be a real disaster: financially, emotionally, academically. So I think there is a place for analytics — like my university has recently adopted — because let’s face it, plenty of places don’t have very experienced people advising.)

The New York Times discovers that universities have students aren’t from big cities like New York. No sh*it, Sherlock.

Richard Lenski explains, and demonstrates, how he responds to emailed inquires about how his Long Term Evolution Experiment can help explain evolution.

Don’t like the March For Science? You must be Reviewer 2. Just because it’s not happening the way you think it should happen, doesn’t mean it should happen.

Neuroscience needs behavior: correcting a reductionist bias

The president of the most creationist and fundamentalist university in the universe (which is 14 billion years old, by the way) is now is running the regime’s task force on higher education. (Okay, there might be some other planet out there with something that resembles higher education, but I doubt they pronounce it “university.”)

Why would a tenure-track professor find himself selling his plasma to make rent?

Kylie Soanes has a nice blog post about the arc of her academic journey that resonated with a bunch of people.

This isn’t shocking news, but it is news: The woman whose story resulted in the lynching of Emmett Till admitted to lying about it. Here’s an interview with the author who tracked her down after all of the years and wrote a book about it. Don’t know the story of Emmett Hill? If you’re from the US, it’s an important part of our history, and also, a reflection of what continues to this day.

Why scientists need to go to the barricades against The Regime — for the humanities.

A very handy and important tool developed by 538 lets you track how members of Congress are, and aren’t, voting to support The Regime. It’s pretty clear that Republicans in Congress absolutely love everything about their new leader. And nearly all of them do.

Some good news is that we’ve seen substantial growth in the number of faculty unions.

Most US colleges enroll students who aren’t ready for higher education. Comparing the writing, critical thinking, and quantitative skills of of US students to newly enrolled students in developed nations other than US, it’s hard to disagree that we’ve fallen way behind. (And dismantling public schools in favor of charter schools, which the Regime is planning, can’t improve the situation and most assuredly will make it even less equitable.)

How to read and not read the 9th Circuit opinion.

Steve Bannon is the President.

This piece by Kurt Eichenwald puts a very neat and tidy pin in the Supreme Court nomination. It explains the situation in just enough detail for folks who aren’t following, and for those who are, I imagine you’ll find it’s a well argued piece that crystallizes what is wrong with the circumstances. This is, I imagine, the kind of thing that if a conservative or Republican (because really, there are no Republican conservatives any more, though there some might still claim to be) asks you why you think what you think, perhaps this could be one thing you might point to. If you think like this, of course.

A compelling piece from Venezuela explains the challenge that we have in confronting The Regime in the US. In the current circumstance, with a divided country and with the evil person holding the reins, he’s going to win as long as he has a domestic enemy to use as a foil. We can’t be that domestic enemy, we must work for unity. “Don’t waste your time trying to prove that this grand idea is better than that one. Ditch all the big words. The problem, remember, is not the message but the messenger. It’s not that Trump supporters are too stupid to see right from wrong, it’s that you’re more valuable to them as an enemy than as a compatriot. Your challenge is to prove that you belong in the same tribe as them.”

The Regime isn’t 1984, it’s Brave New World.

Here’s a set of pragmatic security tips if you’re involved in organizing activism on social media with an account that doesn’t use your own name.

So how do I feel three weeks in to this disaster of our eroding democracy? I am absolutely heartened by the robust response of USians, and I really hope that we are in this for the long fight. And it looks like a lot of us might be, which means we still have a fighting chance to not have to see the destruction of the rule of law. But we’ve got to stay vigilant, and keep up the same spirit we’ve had for the past two weeks. It’s not easy to stay politically active on a consistent basis, but right now, we need all of us to do so. Especially in places where it’s against the prevailing trend. For starters, have you installed the 5 Calls app on your phone?