Arguments against anti-science arguments

In the best titled blog post ever “Scientists aren’t Stupid, and Science Deniers are Arrogant” the anonymous author Fallacy Man openly confesses:

“Debating those who reject scientific facts has been a hobby of mine for several years now. It’s not a very rewarding hobby, and it comes with high stress levels and periodic fits of rage, so I don’t particularly recommend it.”

This in and of itself would make me love this post. But he then goes on to talk about how the biggest problem with science deniers is their arrogance. They genuinely believe that they know more than people who have years, and sometimes decades of experience studying science. While this makes my blood boil, the more important part of post for me was an outline of different arguments that science deniers have made, and good peer-reviewed sources to respond. 

Read it here!



As a peer-reviewer are you gatekeeping or editing?

In academia, sometimes you need to be a gatekeeper, sometimes you need to be an editor. But knowing when to play either role is important, and can really make a difference to the student/young scientist/person whose work you are editing.

In their ongoing discussion of the role of peer review, Dynamic Ecology has an excellent blog post addressing this distinction.


The battle between global health charities and open access mandates

Global health charities are funding more and more scientific research (as NIH and NSF funding rates are scarily low).

However, one prominent charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have an open-access policy stipulating that any research that they fund must be available open-access.

Which conflicts with Science and Nature policy. So at the moment any research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation cannot be published in two of the top journals for science.


Read about it here. 


Make America Informed Again

One thing that sprung out of the 2016 Presidential Election is the role that fake news played in the spread of misinformation, and potentially lead to the current disastrous result.

Sometimes this is because the editorial staff has a slant on an issue that they are actively pushing. But sometimes there’s simply bad reporting because it’s easier to do and can make you more successful than good reporting does. Even when addressing something as objective as science.

Think about it: a new study comes out, with a sweeping groundbreaking conclusion. There’s a press release that accompanies the study, if you’re a journalist do you:

  1. Only write about it if you, yourself, are an expert in the field, capable of digging into the details and evaluating it in the context of everything else known yourself?
  2. Consult with a slew of experts, assuming you’re not one yourself, to ensure you evaluate the release properly — as best you can — before you craft your narrative?
  3. Call a few people to interview them, writing down quotes, so that when you write about the study and its conclusion, you can add in either affirming or dissenting opinions from experts?
  4. Or do you simply write a catchy headline designed to highlight the new, spectacular conclusions, and base your story entirely on the press release?

Forbes wrote an article addressing this exact problem. 

Or if you want the TL;DR version watch this Last Week Tonight clip, where John Oliver explains how important it is to understand science.

Who will be first author? Flip a coin

Over at Dynamic Ecology Megan Duffy just did an awesome blog post about how to determine authorship. From alphabetical ordering to a coin flip, to the current status of the British Pound vs. American Dollar, and my personal favorite, authorship was determined by a twenty-five-game croquet series, things are not as straightforward as they may seem.

Read about it over at Dynamic Ecology!



Science writing STYLE!

My mother is an international lawyer of some renown and she is also my editor, and BOY am I lucky to have her (She recently asked me if commas had hurt me as a child…).

But if  you’re not lucky enough to have a world class writer editing your work, here is a list of Top Ten style checks for PhDs or creative non-fiction writers: Ways to assess your paragraphs or sentences over Medium. Not all of them are gold, but one sample:

5. Are you using active verbs with real subjects?[good] Or passive verbs, whose subjects are abstractions, reifications or anthromorphized concepts? [bad] Word and other equivalents will identify every passive formulation in the Spellchecker facility — go through and change them all over.

Well worth the read!


Opening up open access

At a conference a few years ago I spoke with a friend who said “when I talk to people who say “I’m going to publish 5 papers this year, even though I haven’t submitted any” and it’s July I smile inside. It takes so long to publish papers there is no way they will be able to publish 5 by December”. It’s true, it takes forever to publish (after the writing and submitting part, which for me takes awhile too).

But some scientist, even Nobel Prize laureates, are publishing things online before even submitting it for review in an “official” publication. Not only does this cut out the journals who are arguably making a ton of profit off our free labor (see here and here), but it gets your work out to the scientific community faster.

Read about it over at the New York Times!