I am a mere first year in a Ph.D. program and am a bit older than the other students. I am wholeheartedly committed to the program I am also considering the seemingly traitorous act of having a baby.
Do you think it's essential to wait until ABD status?
Archive for: February, 2008
At 6.5 and 8.5 years of age, the Free-Ride offspring sometimes seem more comfortable expressing their understanding of various ideas with drawings rather than just with words. I sometimes wonder where they pick up their visual vocabulary. For example, the younger Free-Ride offspring provides a picture to accompany the discussion of mutants posted two weeks ago:
All the cool kids were doing this particular round of navel-gazing yesterday and the day before, while I was either dreadfully ill and out of commission or somewhat better and working. (Today was also quite full of work stuff.) However, it's not an unimportant set of questions, and possibly you're curious about the answers, so let's give it a go:
1. Why do you consider this blog a science blog?
Coming on the heels of my basic concepts post about the norms of science identified by sociologist Robert K. Merton , and a follow-up post on values from the larger society that compete with these norms, this post will examine norms that run counter to the ones Merton identified that seem to arise from within the scientific community. Specifically, I will discuss the findings of Melissa S. Anderson  from her research examining how committed university faculty and Ph.D. students are to Merton's norms and to the anti-norms -- and how this commitment compares to reported behavior.
There's another development in Aetogate, which you'll recall saw paleontologists William Parker, Jerzy Dzik, and Jeff Martz alleging that Spencer Lucas and his colleagues at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS) were making use of their work or fossil resources without giving them proper credit. Since I last posted on the situation, NMMNHS decided to convene an ethics panel to consider the allegations. This ought to be good news, right?
It probably depends on what one means by "consider".
A while back, I offered a basic concepts post that discussed the four norms identified by sociologist Robert K. Merton  as the central values defining the tribe of science. You may recall from that earlier post that the Mertonian norms of science are:
- Organized Skepticism
It will come as no surprise, though, that what people -- even scientists -- actually do often falls short of what we agree we ought to do. Merton himself noted such instances, and saw the criticisms scientists made of their peers who didn't live up to the norms as good evidence that the tribe of science was committed to the norms. Many of the forces Merton saw pulling against the norms of science came from outside the tribe of science. However, it's just as reasonable to ask if there isn't a set of countervailing norms -- or "anti-norms" -- that come from within the tribe of science.
In this post, I consider the forces Merton saw as working in the opposite direction from the norms. In a follow-up post, I will discuss the findings of Melissa S. Anderson  probing how committed university faculty and Ph.D. students are to Merton's norms and to the anti-norms -- and how this commitment compares to reported behavior.
... instead of writing "QED" at the end of proofs, I think we should all start writing "pwned." I want this change to be my legacy to philosophy.
In pondering the effects of nature versus nurture, the Free-Ride parents have become painfully aware that a large part of their offspring's environment is provided by the kids at school. This is how the sprogs came to be aware of the existence of The Disney Channel, whose offering seem to grate on the parental units as much as they delight the offspring.
At Casa Free-Ride, the price for choosing a television program your parent does not care for is engaging in some critical thinking about its subject matter.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, so explain That's So Raven to me. What is the deal with Raven and those "visions"?
Elder offspring: She's a psychic.
Younger offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: A psychic, eh? What exactly does that mean?
Yesterday I published a post with suggestions for ways junior scientists could offer some push-back to ethical shenanigans by senior scientists in their field. While admittedly all of these were "baby-steps" kind of measures, the reactions in the comments are conveying a much grimmer picture of scientific communities than one usually gets talking to senior scientists in person. For example:
[N]one of your suggestions above would work. Those are all things that we tried. But when the people in a position to do something about it are being rewarded either by their silence or by their complicity, all of the things you suggest have effects ranging from nothing to career suicide.
My experience, sad as it sounds, is that as a junior person in a corrupt research area has two choices: accept the fact that they're going to get screwed, or find a different field.
So now, I'd like to have a word with the senior scientists.
Where the hell are you?!