Recommended reads #99


We are never just scientists.

Rethinking my exams: “Why do we even do exams in college, anyway?”

This site with interactive animations for basic statistical concepts is just about the best thing ever.

There’s this company that sells clothes to people who hate going shopping. I’m quite familiar with their service, and it is kind of amazing how they send folks the clothes that they’ll actually like. Here’s a virtual tour of the data science behind their clothes matching algorithms.

Why do New Atheists hate group selection?

(By the way, there’s now a link on this site for posts related to mentorship.)

George Saunders on what writers really do when they write. And, as Stephen Heard points out, as scientists, we are writers.

In the morass of disagreement about the how/what/why we are having a March For Science on April 22nd, Ed Yong distills out all of the good reasons we have for marching. Not much later, the organizers of the march came out with a home run of a statement of purpose and inclusion.

You may want to marry my husband. Heads up, reading this might just crush you emotionally for a while.

Imposter syndrome is definitely a thing

For a good long while, UC Berkeley has been producing and disseminating a huge number of video and audio educational materials that aren’t meeting standards for accessibility, and not compliant with ADA guidelines. So, to comply with the law, they’re not making them accessible – they’re just removing them so that they’ll only be available to people who have university access. Some folks think this is crazy, but then again, if people who produce material that isn’t ADA compliant are allowed to distribute their stuff on a massive scale when it isn’t accessible to the disabled, then the ADA is just a piece of paper that we can ignore (just like our congress is ignoring the Constitution, for that matter).

The most effective methods for ensuring student success are not widely practiced in higher education.

Recent work suggests that the liberal political inclinations of university faculty aren’t converting conservative students into progressives — it’s just that learning more about the world has this effect.

Her Scientific Discovery: Support

The Four Harassers of the History Department

I Made That Bitch Famous“: A brief history of men getting credit for women’s accomplishments.

A story about extraordinary levels of corruption by a scientist at Ohio State came out in the New York Times. This has it all — misappropriation of funds, data fabrication, plagiarism, throwing lab members under the bus.

Here’s some equally shady financial dealing between a wealthy biotech dude who laundered money through a “donation” to the University of Utah.

Jeff Rouder is a scientist who is volunteering his time investigating a case where he thinks someone was wrongly convicted using very old DNA evidence, and using some reasonable Bayesian priors, his analysis suggests that a guy has been wrongly convicted. Check out this short write up describing the situation (with links to more detailed information if you want to get into the details), and his appeal for help.

Here’s a short review of Lower Ed, the new book by Tressie McMillan Cottom, about all the bad stuff associated with for-profit universities. She knocked it out of the park on the Daily Show, worth a watch.

“…We hypothesize and test in both field and laboratory samples that ethnic minority or female leaders who engage in diversity-valuing behavior are penalized with worse performance ratings; whereas white or male leaders who engage in diversity-valuing behavior are not penalized for doing so…”

Here’s a rather insubstantial and poorly composed argument: “Science is elitist for a reason.

Retraction Watch wrote a piece about some apparently unethical experiments, which were reported to have passed ethical review through the Chinese equivalent of IRB.

The animated graphic here from the New York Times, showing the early onset of spring in the US, is top notch. (It looks like it was based on this USGS graphic that I had bookmarked a few days earlier.)

“Penrose is still defining the way we see the universe. But, in today’s world of ultra-specialised science, could a thinker of such breadth ever emerge again?

The fracas resulting from this open data competition is mildly humorous.

You would think that advocates for more open dissemination of scientific papers would be happy that ResearchGate is jailbreaking papers that otherwise would be hidden behind paywalls. But nope, these folks don’t like it, because this is mere incrementalism that fails to fully embrace the open access gospel.

The resistance is futile, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here is a nice obituary for Dresselhaus, the Queen of Carbon: “She was the first woman to secure a full professorship at M.I.T., in 1968, and she worked vigorously to ensure that she would not be the last.”

Engaging in policy advocacy doesn’t hurt your reputation as a climate scientist.

From 1975 to 2011, “Full-time tenured/tenure track faculty increased by a mere 23%, while part-time contingent faculty increased a dramatic 286% and full-time non-tenure track faculty (NTFF) by 259%.  Full-time non-faculty professionals, or the administrative class, increased 359%.”

What do we call the last of a species? Martha? George?

Speaking of which George and Martha is top-notch reading for preschoolers, if you’re in the market for a present like that. And everything else that James Marshall did too.

After his interactions with our rogue Customs and Border Protection force, a French scholar (ironically, a historian of Vichy France) asks, “Is the United States is still the United States?”

A Nigerian software engineer was entering the US on a valid visa and got an absurd and unjustified grilling from CBP. They apparently didn’t know believe he was a software engineer, so they googled up some question that they thought they could ask him to prove that he was a software engineer. Not that they even understood the questions.

Jedidah Isler got name-checked by the daughter of our thief-in-chief, and was having none of it. In a classy kind of way.

Why did the house science committee overlook NASA’s former chief scientist?

I didn’t catch this, because I was doing other things Wednesday, but perhaps one of the most epic comebacks ever in soccer/football just happened, and the article in the New York Times captures this really well. And it does involve Lio Messi.

I was very excited to have in my hands a copy of Schadenfreude, the new book by higher ed (and more) writer Rebecca Schuman. My spouse got to it first, and based on the volume and frequency of the chuckles involved, I’m excited to carve out the time for it.

A well-researched piece about deforestation in Amazonia, and how a drop in the rate of forest loss was short-lived.

A well-known law school in Boston decided they needed to diversify, and that using the LSAT was getting in the way of this goal. So now they’re accepting the GRE in its place. Which is also a really biased test. Hmm.

Here’s a paper testing whether six different journals are experiencing “reviewer fatigue” — that is, whether it’s been getting harder to land reviews over time. Some journals have problems, others don’t. It’s interesting, if this kind of stuff is interesting to you.

And, a book about how to teach science at the university level. It goes over a range of approaches that work, how to teach efficiently, anticipate pitfalls, and help your students learn — but without (much) educational theory or jargon. I’ll give you the bad news before the good news: I don’t think such a book exists yet.

And here’s the good news: I’m writing that book! Stay tuned for The Field Guide to College Science Teaching, which should be coming out next year. One thing I’m really excited about is the low price, about 20 bucks. If you happen to appreciate what I say about teaching and working with students on this site (which, since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you do), then I’m planning for you to absolutely love this book.

Since this book isn’t supposed to be about me, me, me, I am now scheduling (email) interviews with science faculty in a variety of disciplines and kinds of institutions. If you’re interested in taking maybe 15-30 minutes to answer a set of questions, and wouldn’t mind being quoted by name/institution in the book, please send me an email. (If I don’t reply promptly to your email, it’s only because I’m heading tonight off to Costa Rica to help teach a course about Neotropical Social Insects. Which will be wonderful.)

Have a restful weekend, and please, don’t forget to engage in acts of resistance.

One thought on “Recommended reads #99

  1. You absolutely hooked me with the description of the book on how to teach science at the university level and I eagerly scrolled down to find out what it was called so I could get my hands on. So now I’m waiting with bated breath for your book 🙂

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