My friend Chris Gainor, who is a historian of space exploration and the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, has written a thoughtful blog post about the Covid-19 pandemic, and its effect on the “pale blue dot on which we all live.” You can read his post here.
This is a great explanation of why scientific research projects, and the results of those projects, are not as definitive or as linear as writers like Malcolm Gladwell want us to believe.
Scientific progress is a tricky thing. Despite what you might think, the direction of science is not always forwards – sometimes as a species we can unlearn things which then take us hundreds of years to re-discover. Sometimes this is simply from ideas not being publicised enough and it slips through the cracks. But more…
The anonymous peer review process that’s used to determine whether academic research articles are published or presented is supposed to be a neutral process. But research on peer review has revealed many problems with the process, such as biased outcomes, and excessive lengths of time to get articles accepted. This week, there was a stunning example of another problem with the process – sexist reviews. (more…)
A very insightful post about the media’s reliance on a few individuals to comment on science and scientific research, and why this is a problem.
Richard Dawkins is at it again. This isn’t the firsttime he’s made inappropriate or offensive comments, and this infographic nicely illustrates the perpetual cycle of eye-rolling and submission as the people who call him out get fed up and ultimately disengage. What frustrates me so much about Dawkins is that he has this incredible platform– numerous popular books, frequent speaking engagements, nearly a million Twitter followers– and yet, to me, he’s doing more harm than good when it comes to outreach about science. Racist and sexist comments are not only offensive, they contribute to the lack of diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
Dawkins’ comments also bother me for another reason, which is what I’m going to focus on in this post: Richard Dawkins is one of the handful of living scientists that Americans can name. This means that he’s something of a spokesperson for science, and for scientists. Whether I like it or not, he…
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It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) occupations. There’s several possible reasons for this: not much encouragement for girls or women to take courses in these subjects, lack of visible role models, and lack of support in the workplace. But a set of studies documented in a new article in Administrative Science Quarterly raises another potential problem for women in STEM occupations: gender-related discrimination in co-workers’ evaluations of their expertise.
Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath is on both the New York Times bestseller list and the Amazon bestseller list – and since I’m number 15 on its waiting list at my local public library, there’s clearly an eager audience waiting to read it. However, the book has received some less than positive reviews, even from admitted Gladwell admirers, and has also been the subject of some harsh criticism. The most widely read critiques are probably this article by dyslexia expert Mark Seidenberg, contending that there are significant factual errors in the book’s discussion of dyslexia, and this article by psychologist Christopher Chabris challenging some of the book’s reasoning and research. Chabris’ article generated this response from Gladwell himself, which was unfortunately more of a personal attack on Chabris (and his wife) rather than a response to Chabris’ criticisms.
A couple of themes have arisen in discussions of the book. I want to (more…)
DN Lee received a request to write for a blog – for “exposure”, not compensation – and when she refused, the blog contact wrote back calling her an “urban whore”. Her video response is brilliant!! Kudos to her for standing up not only against blogs that expect contributors to work for free, but also against such inexcusably rude treatment.
And check out Isis The Scientist’s following post, in which she discovered that DN Lee’s post about her experience mysteriously disappeared from Scientific American‘s website after DN publicly told her story. Kudos to Isis as well for bringing this ridiculousness to our attention.