Archive for: May, 2008

Why philosophy of chemistry?

Over at Philosopher's Playground, Steve Gimbel asks why the philosophy of chemistry is such a recent discipline given how long there has been serious activity in the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of physics.

He floats a few possible answers -- as it happens, the same options those of us who actually do philosophy of chemistry encounter fairly regularly. After responding briefly to these possible reasons for thinking that there shouldn't be a distinct philosophy of chemistry, I'll offer a brief sketch of what a philosophy of chemistry might be about.

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SVP Ethics Education Commitee conclusions on 'Aetogate'.

A week ago, while I was busy grading and being tenured, the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology released its report on the allegations that have come to be known as "Aetogate" (about which I've posted here, here, here, and here). ReBecca was kind enough to forward the Statement from the Executive Committee (PDF) and the accompanying "Best practices" document (PDF). Also, you should read what Brian and Chris have to say about the decision.
Since I'm finding myself with a lot to say about these documents, I'm going to break it up into more digestible pieces. This post will examine how the SVP Ethics Education Committee responded to the two sets of allegations it was considering. A second post will discuss what the committee identifies as the "lessons learned" from this investigation. A third post will then consider the "best practices" proposed by the committee.

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Friday Sprog Blogging: what we found by the bay.

May 30 2008 Published by under Kids and science

Last weekend, while I was still in the throes of grading, my better half decided to take the Free-Ride offspring on a hike (or, in the Free-Ride vernacular, a "death march"). The younger Free-Ride offspring reports back on some of the salient details.

Salt-rock.jpg
Dr. Free-Ride: Can you tell me what you saw on your death march by the bay?
Younger offspring: We saw lots of cool things. One of them was a snake skin. And we saw lots of pickleweed, which we tried.
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, you tasted it?
Younger offspring: Uh huh. I only like the salty bits.

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A few thoughts on female academics and children.

Since I read it last Friday I have been meaning to say something about this article in Inside Higher Ed about why female academic appear to have lower birthrates than male academics and than female professionals in other fields. Of course, between work and family obligations (and grinding fatigue) it's taken me until now to get to it.
Is this a clue of some sort?

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The facts aren't always pretty: doctored images in scientific journals.

In today's Chronicle of Higher Education there's an article about the methods journal publishers are deploying to detect doctored images in scientific manuscripts. From the article:

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Who are you calling funny looking?

May 24 2008 Published by under Academia, Passing thoughts, Pop culture

Fanime2.jpg

Yesterday, heading out to lunch with some colleagues, I noticed some of the other people out on the street were ... oddly attired. We saw these folks as we were passing by a cinema, so our first thought was, "Maybe this has something to do with the Speed Racer movie?"
And then we remembered the banners, and last year's Memorial Day weekend in downtown San Jose.

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The letter.

May 23 2008 Published by under Academia, Personal

In my faculty mailbox today:

After a review of the tenure evaluations and recommendations of the appropriate committees and administrators ... I am pleased to inform you that your service to the University merits the award of tenure. I am also pleased to inform you that you have been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, effective August 21, 2008.

One less thing to worry about while working through the grading.

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Friday Sprog Blogging: extra-terrestrial life.

May 23 2008 Published by under Kids and science

Elder offspring: Since soccer season is over, you should take us someplace fun on Saturday.
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, Saturday morning I'll be at commencement, and I think I'll need to spend at least part of Saturday afternoon grading.
Younger offspring: Aww, do you have to go to commencement?
Dr. Free-Ride: Yes, I have to. This year I'm a commencement marshal.
Younger offspring: A commencement Martian?! Oh no!
Elder offspring: Do you get to carry a ray-gun?

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Sympathy for exam-takers (at least, in some cases).

Another dispatch from grading Hell (fourth circle), in which the reader gains some insight into circumstances which evoke my sympathy, and circumstances which do not.
I have this pedagogical strategy where I try to make my students think more than they have to write. One way this strategy manifests itself is in how I deal with case studies on finals exams.

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Strategies for grading fairly.

May 21 2008 Published by under Academia, Personal, Teaching and learning

I am in grading Hell. I expect to be here until at least Memorial Day (Monday), and possibly through Tuesday. (Does that mean I'm actually in grading Purgatory? Please advise.)
Anyway, in a private communication, PhysioProf asked,

As you get grumpier from grading, do you grade harsher?

If I did, that would be an unfortunate situation for those whose papers I get to last, wouldn't it?
Thankfully for my students, I make serious efforts to apply a uniform level of harshness (or leniency) across the whole pool I'm grading. Here are some of my strategies:

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