Recommended reads #121


Things that are useful to know when you’re teaching with active learning

What I’ve learned from my 4 year old (By the way, I’m psyched that Viet Thanh Nguyen is now a contributing opinion writer for the NYT, I’ll be keeping an eye out for his future pieces)

Citation vacuums

Writing with a point of view vs. writing to discover a point of view (my experience is usually writing to discover a point of view, but if I start with one, it often evolves as I write)

The pitfalls of expertise: “The hardest part… was coming to grips with the simple (but not easy) insight that the purpose of higher education is not to demonstrate my expertise to students but rather help them build their own expertise [emphasis mine]. To do that effectively, I had to let go of authority, of the concept that I am the exclusive purveyor of content they need and cannot get without my tutelage (an obsolete concept anyway). I had to give up power. And as much as I thought of myself as an egalitarian, informal, ‘cool’ professor, this was really hard to do.”

If you read one link from me about teaching this semester, I suggested the preceding entry on the pitfalls of expertise. This letting go of the idea that I’m supposed to be the primary source of content and expertise is something that I feel like I constantly need to deal with.

Are you a biomedical researcher and you want the peer review process sped up, especially for you? Well, here you go, it’ll cost you a few thousand bucks. No joke.

This piece in Bioscience is a useful lesson in applied ethics, one of the not-hideous things to emerge from Pyrongate.

There’s no excuse for not getting a woman scientist’s input anymore.

It’s the 60th anniversary of Explorer 1. It’s worth learning more about it, and this page from NASA is engaging.

“A leading organization has said that sexual harassment is scientific misconduct. Where are the others?”  From the editors of Scientific American.

A paean to Ursula LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthseaby David Mitchell.

A delightful biography of Ursula LeGuin from The New Yorker.

🔥 from Sarah Myhre in the pages of Newsweek: Science should be a feminist institution, but we aren’t there yet. We have been silenced by a culture that tells us to divest ourselves from ourselves, for the sake of apolitical objectivity. Everywhere in our society, but doubly so in science, we are told to remain calm, play nice and keep our head down. As if our silence and complicity, indeed our docility, will be rewarded. This is a lie. There is no reward in acquiescence, only subjugation. We deserve better, and we’ll get it. The feminist reckoning is here, and it is coming for science.”

The past week saw the provost of the University of Arizona step down, in light of a history of sexist comments.

It’s a bad idea to start going around calling yourself a “male feminist” when you’ve got a documented history of sexual harassment.  As UC Berkeley’s Terry Speed just learned.

The case against

It’s hard to study if you’re hungry

For 10 years, John Lawton wrote a series of 27 essays in Oikos, which you can essentially think of as very good blog posts, before blog posts were a thing. They’re now nicely compiled for us.

diversity initiatives in the academy: some thoughts

What was liberal education?

The RAND Corporation issued a report about “truth decay,” which they conducted by comparing our moment in time to other moments in history. Instead of folks waving hands and saying “people are now just making up their own facts and it didn’t used to be like this,” now there are data to address such a a claim.

“But how, I wondered, can Elsevier continue to make such big profits from science publishing? Now, I think I see. The company thinks that there will be one company supplying publishing services to scientists—just as there is one Amazon, one Google, and one Facebook; and Elsevier aims to be that company. But how can it make big profits from providing a cheap service? The answer lies in big data.”

Forget that google app that compares your photo to images in museum art collections — these matches are unimaginably uncanny

California does it again – it turns out to increase vaccination rates, you just need to require it.

This email from the curator of the Guggenheim is pure gold.

After about three media cycles of the Aziz Ansari thing, I think this one made put it into perspective quite well.

From the inimitable Elizabeth Kolbert: “In the decades to come, one can hope that many of the Trump Administration’s mistakes—on tax policy, say, or trade—will be rectified. But the destruction of the country’s last unspoiled places is a loss that can never be reversed.”

Apologies in advance, the last two things are things that came out this week, though ripped straight up from my high school years. First, Rebecca Schuman’s last piece for The Awl (because they’re shutting down!) is a masterful meditation comparing the German and the English versions of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom.” And then, the following tweet really messed with my head. I remember being in high school when the Traveling Wilburys were doing their thing. My main thought about them was, “Wow, that’s a bunch of old guys.” And now, I’m precisely their median age at that time. Apparently, I’m as ancient to high school students now, as those guys were to me back back then?! And I look at that photo, and I think “wow, they’re so young-looking!” I’ve been aware that time flies, but, wow.

Have a great weekend.