Superstar artist Ai Weiwei wrote a piece about how censorship works for the New York Times — gosh knows he’s had plenty of opportunity to gain expertise. It’s revelatory, and relevant for those of in the US more than ever.
The founders of the field of cryptanalysis, William and Elizabeth Friedman, had a cipher on their tombstone. Which was just solved.
When you study arctic glaciers that are rapidly melting away, and your samples at the Ice Core Archive melt away because of a freezer malfunction at your university.
File this under, “No shit, sherlock”: A study finds that women do more departmental service than men, and that this harms career progression.
One hundred baby! Woo hoo!
Why is it when we talk about science outreach and science education/communication, it’s always focused on kids? The adults are also where it’s at.
This short piece about how and why scientists use social media fits just perfectly in with my perspectives and experiences.
Rethinking my exams: “Why do we even do exams in college, anyway?”
Five practical ways you can help a first generation student succeed. If you’ve ever thought positively about anything I’ve written or shared on this topic, I bet you’ll really appreciate this piece by Abigail Dan. I bow to its wisdom and excellence.
Obsessed with smartness, by James Lang. I love this almost as much as the preceding piece.
Why facts don’t change our minds, by the inestimable Elizabeth Kolbert.
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.
I feel a bit guilty that I came upon some cool reads, in the precise moment that my country stopped being a proper democracy. This list is more decline-of-democracy-related than usual. But still even if you’ve had enough of this, there’s enough in here about other things I hope it’s worth your time. In part, because there’s a link in here about how to keep on keepin’ on while still doing your best to resist the the new authoritarian government that has taken over the US.
But I do have things to share, some of which aren’t even about our brave new world.
Just in case you didn’t know, academia.edu is a for-profit venture that exists primarily to gather our information and sell it. Ungood. I’ve stayed away from it for this reason – this article explains how they ended up with a .edu even though they’re not a .edu.
America’s great working class colleges. This is such a great piece of journalism (admittedly I think this in part because it says things I try to say here often and get it better than I could). Here’s the interactive feature that accompanies the article, which I really suggest you play around with – if anything to get an idea about how the institutions that you are personally familiar with compare to others in ways that you might not have seen visualized before. It was an education for me, surely.
This is a good visualization of gerrymandering. Which (I don’t argue here) is specifically how we got into this hideous mess.
A friend asked the other day about recommendations for good popular books about ecology. Initially, I kind of drew a blank. Which surprised me.
In the United States, a woman died a few months ago of a bacterial infection. This microbe was resistant to all antibiotics available in the US that we were capable of throwing at it.
A paper came out this week, looking at predictors of publication rates among 280 graduate students accepted and enrolled into a biomedical grad program. And — shocker, I know — grades and standardized test scores didn’t matter. The best predictor was the content of the letters of recommendation. You want to know which undergraduates have the greatest research potential? Listen to their undergraduate mentors. Here’s a drugmonkey post about this paper.
An argument for the funding of basic research makes it into the Wall Street Journal.
One way to teach critical thinking is to take a historical issue (in history, science, whatever) and look at the debates surrounding the issue by the people of the time, and then asking, “Who was right?” (I found this via Tavish Bell’s twitter account, where I see consistently interesting stuff about higher ed.)
Caring isn’t coddling: “While I’m not without gallows humor and can enjoy an ‘it’s in the syllabus’ joke as much as the next person, I also feel deeply that the best teaching arises in faculty-student relationships that are mutually respectful and that mutually honor the worth each side is bringing to the table.”
A shark that was (maybe) choking on a massive chunk of moose was (maybe) saved by a couple guys.
A couple truly spectacular reads have already made the rounds in social media in the last week, but in case you haven’t caught them, be sure to do so:
First, the Washington Post published a long-form piece about Derek Black, former media star of white nationalists who grew to repudiate his views. How did this happen? The free exchange of ideas and mutual respect found in higher education. If you’re looking for a defense of a liberal arts education (which can be found in potentially any university), then this might be as great as it gets.
Second, the Arizona Republic editorial staff received many death threats because they endorsed a particular presidential candidate. (Okay, a let’s all take moment to breathe, to absorb this fact.) The response from the publisher is powerful and important.
How you might change as a professor as you get older.
The terrorist inside my husband’s brain. This piece by Robin Williams’s widow, written for practicing neurologists, is an important read for all of us.
Why people wince at talk of “flipping classrooms.” This phrase has pretty much lost any specific meaning or utility, and that’s why I haven’t really used it. I’m a fan of active learning approaches but not a fan of flipping sensu stricto.
In 10 years, Harvey Mudd (an exclusive STEM-focused college in the LA area, one of the Claremont Colleges) went from 15% women students to having a majority of women. Here’s how they did it.
“What I learned as a hired consultant to autodidact physicists” Or, what happens when a trained physicist takes crackpots (and their money) seriously.
Are you familiar with the work of the Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group? I applaud their dedication and excellence in chronicling the diversity and natural history of this unappreciated yet widespread taxon. This is where the line between science and art is invisible.
“Women are woven deeply into the history of science, stretching back to ancient Egypt, over 4,000 years ago. But because their contributions often go unacknowledged, they fade into obscurity—and the threads of their influence today aren’t as apparent as they ought to be.” I’d like to call this one early: We’ll be looking back at Dr. Emily Temple-Wood as the person who rewrote the history of scientific discovery.
Racism in the research lab. This post, from two scientists from prestigious institutions, is important.