Archive for: June, 2006

Friday Sprog Blogging: a map of the Earth.

Jun 30 2006 Published by under Kids and science

Younger offspring: I drew this picture of the Earth!
Dr. Free-Ride: Wow, that's quite a picture. Will you tell me what's going on in it?
Younger offspring: Yes, but first scan it in.
Dr. Free-Ride: Hmm. Is it maybe not a coincidence that you're bringing home a picture like this on a Thursday night?

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I can't stop laughing at this result.

Jun 29 2006 Published by under Passing thoughts

Coming up on a long holiday weekend, you all are ready for another internet quiz, right?
I can't help wondering whether the "Birth Order Predictor" quiz is not well-grounded in the sociological facts, or whether there really isn't any such coherent set of sociological facts, or whether I'm just a weirdo.
Because it's hard to imagine this result being any more off base:

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Don't do the misconduct if you can't do the time.

Jun 29 2006 Published by under Current events, Misconduct

A long time ago, I blogged about Dr. Eric T. Poehlman, formerly of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He's no longer there because he was caught falsifying and fabricating data in the "preliminary studies" sections of numerous grant proposals submitted to federal agencies and departments.
Today comes the news that Dr. Poehlman will be doing some time for his crimes. From the Burlington Free Press:

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Using "Angels" to patch leaks in the pipeline.

Interesting news from Japan: Tohoku University has decided to launch an outreach effort to encourage more girls to pursue science. Rather than relying on secondary school science classes to whip up enthusiam for science, the university is recruiting its own women graduate students in the sciences to serve as role models and mentors.
From the Yomiuri Shimbun:

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Last leg of Sb/DonorsChoose drive: maximizing our impact.

Jun 29 2006 Published by under Philanthropy

It's been two weeks since we kicked off our first ever ScienceBlogs/DonorsChoose drive to raise money for math and science classrooms. In that time, 172 generous readers have donated a total of $13,685.14 and SEED has kicked in $10,000.
But there are three days left of the drive, and I know you all have some greatness left in you.
Here's the deal: Of the 19 blogs participating in this drive, only Pharyngula reached its challenge goal. This would be no big deal if we were just concerned with interblog bragging rights. But, there's more at stake here: the good people at DonorsChoose are kicking in another 10% of the funds raised for each compeleted challenge. The Pharynguloids raised $6257.51, so DonorsChoose is giving PZ $625.75 to fund more teachers' proposals.
In other words, for the last three days of the drive, we need to focus on the bloggers with challenges that are closest to completion so we can get additional money from DonorsChoose and do even more good.
Details of the strategy (plus some current stats) below the fold.

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A few words about Ward Churchill.

I'm not going to do this to death, partly because others will and partly because Churchill isn't a scientist. But, given that I'm working the ethics beat at ScienceBlogs, I ought to give you the ethical crib-sheet:

  1. Plagiarism is bad.
  2. Self-plagiarism (that is, recycling stuff you've written and published before without indicating that you're recycling it) is bad.
  3. Ghost-writing pieces for other "scholars" in what purports to be a scholarly anthology might be acceptable under some possible set of circumstances, but it's fishy enough that it's probably best presumed bad.
  4. Citing pieces you've ghost-written for such an anthology in other works you've produced without indicating that you're actually citing yourself is bad.
  5. Citing pieces you've ghost-written using the author of record's name as support for a point you are trying to establish (by making it look like other authors agree with your analysis of the facts) is very, very bad.
  6. The badness in these behaviors lies in their deceptiveness. Essentially, they are all different ways of lying to your audience and the community of scholars trying to build good knowledge in your area.
  7. Universities, as institutions charged with maintaining academic integrity, have a right to cut loose professors who engage in this kind of bad behavior. Indeed, if a professor habitually engages in these bad acts, the university probably has a duty to fire this bozo.

Beneath the fold, I approvingly quote Eugene Volokh. (Yeah, I'm surprised too.)

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Practical advice: irreproducibility.

I just got back from a 75 minute ethics seminar for summer researchers (mostly undergraduates) at a large local center of scientific research. While it was pretty hard to distill the important points on ethical research to just over an hour, I can't tell you how happy I am that they're even including ethics training in this program.
Anyway, one of the students asked a really good question, which I thought I'd share:
Let's say you discover that a published result is irreproducible. Who do you tell?
My answer after the jump.

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Biological knowledge and what humans value.

Following up from yesterday's post about how knowledge about the biological basis for X doesn't tell us whether X is to be valued or pathologized, I need to put a few more points (including some questions) on the table.
First, in the comments thread to the Feministing post that prompted my post, a common (and frustrating) misunderstanding of claims from evolutionary biology has reared its head:

I wouldn't put the clitoris in the same catagory as the male nipple by any means. The clitoris is not a by-product, and by the way neither is sex. And "liking sex that does not result in reproduction" could be applied to heterosexuality as well. ...
Why do most of you not assume that homosexuality is a product of evolution? A direct product (not a by-product) of being human? If it wasn't a desirable trait in some way then it would have been eliminated through natural selection.

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My ethical style (according to an internet quiz).

Jun 27 2006 Published by under Ethics 101, Passing thoughts

Chad thinks it's a good point in the week for internet quizzes. So, since I saw it at Arbitrary Marks, I took a quiz to determine my ethical style. (No, "bossy" isn't one of the possible results.)
What the quiz says about me after the jump.

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Why I have no interest in any possible biological bases for homosexuality.

Jun 27 2006 Published by under Scientist/layperson relations

Jessica at Feministing notices the BBC reporting on a study that conditions in utero may play a causal role in men's sexual orientation. But, as the title of this post suggests, I do not care what the biological bases for sexual orientation might be, nor indeed whether there are biological bases for sexual orientation. Jessica makes a comment that starts to capture my own non-interest here:

... naturally the larger question with all these why-are-you-gay studies is why do we have to know? I'm terrified that once someone targets a "reason" they're just going to try and find a way to do away with it.

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