And of course it had to be XKCD. Here’s that page (don’t miss the rest)!
Focusing on media. Wow. They should try that in biology too. No Darwinism. Just facts.
At The Scientist: With the potential moves against Marcy and Ayala, “We are watching social change happening in front of our eyes,” says Nancy Hopkins, an NAS member and emeritus biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It has been a long time coming.” …
Chaitin: I have a pessimistic vision which I hope is completely wrong, that the bureaucracies are like a cancer — the ones that control research and funding for research and counting how much you’ve been publishing. I’ve noticed that at universities, for example, the administrative personnel are gradually taking all the best buildings and expanding. So I think that the bureaucracy and the rules and regulations increases to the point that it sinks the society.
Chaitin, best known for Chaitin’s unknowable number: “Some mathematics, I think, is definitely invented, not discovered. That tends to be trivial mathematics … But other mathematics does seem to be discovered. That’s when you find some really deep, fundamental mathematical idea, and there it really looks inevitable. “
From an interview with John Staddon we learn that constructive criticism is more useful than cheerleading when one’s game needs work. One outcome of the problems Staddon describes is that “trust the science” is becoming something of a joke in a broad variety of areas and that is not good news.
Rob Sheldon: There was nothing either unethical or inaccurate in the paper. The conclusions were wrong. This is true of over 50% of papers in the literature. Further papers show why the conclusions were wrong. No one retracts a paper because the data was interpreted improperly. For example, Newton’s conclusion that the universe was unstable. Einstein’s conclusion that a cosmological constant could stabilize it.
Remember this shameful episode when faced with bureaucrats huffing “Trust the science!” It appears that the science doesn’t trust the science. And if not, why should anyone else?
The bottom line is that—in a move worthy of an existentialist writer like Kafka—Cancel Culture has succeeded in making actual issues around mentorship dangerous to discuss. The big loser is equity, of course, because if one can’t discuss actual issues (like guys are higher in the hierarchy at present), then one can’t propose useful approaches. But there is always, of course, a bureaucrat out there (many, actually), quite ready to conduct a seminar, etc., which will change nothing because no one can afford to be honest.
Okay. Some say the signs were there all along. One scientist asks, “Who will believe us again? A better question is, maybe, why?
Behe: The authors imply that since no reason is known why, say, DNA should be synthesized discontinuously on the lagging strand, then no good reason in fact exists. Yet not long ago the same sort of fallacious argument from ignorance was made concerning “junk DNA.”
We are informed that all science Twitter is in a ghastly rage over an open access paper in Nature Communications which seems to show that female scientists benefit more from male mentors than from female mentors. To a layperson with some life experience, that wouldn’t be a surprising outcome at all. In a system that has been male-dominated since forever, more guys would be higher up on the pole. And if you want to get ahead, it pays to know Top People… But, of course, the Outrage Mob is sharpening the guillotine. Their final enemy is, after all, reality in any of its forms.
Our intrepid narrator had reason to wonder when the badly written letter soliciting papers had an odd attachment: “The editor who sent it to me had, inexplicably, attached a handbook on Covid-19 hospital protocols, a document that detailed at length the precise mechanism of sealing the dead in a “leak-proof corpse wrapping sheet.”
A Cornell U psych prof warns against letting the career lardbellies know in so many words that you plan to shake things up a bit.
Dr. Hesselmann’s probably right but how depressing. In a world where so much research that doesn’t involve fraud fails replication, it’s just a fact that most published research papers in many fields are probably wrong or at least sloppy. So why bother with fraud? But not exactly a good look for science.