Want to become a better teacher? Here’s an idea: pay a thoughtful, experienced undergrad to sit in on your class and critique your teaching. Political science prof Henry Farrell tried it and says it worked wonders for him.
A woman in Oklahoma has twice had her house destroyed by a tornado. When something like this happens, our first reaction often is to say “Wow–what are the odds of that?” Stats blog Normal Deviate asks, well, what are the odds of that? It’s actually not easy to say, in part because you have to be careful exactly how you pose the question. It occurs to me that this could be a good question to pose in undergrad statistics classes.
Is there such a thing as an optimal level of civility in writing? If so, what is it?
After the people who are developing MOOCs get done disrupting higher education, maybe they’ll move on to…disrupting organ transplants. Very funny satire.
Finally, can’t imagine this will be of interest to anyone but me, but it’s so cool (for “late-night-college-dorm-room-discussion” values of “cool”) that I have to share it. Ace philosopher of biology Samir Okasha, author of an important book on the levels of selection, has a new(ish) paper. In it, he points out an analogy between the notion of a “veil of ignorance” in Rawlsian political philosophy and…fair meiosis! Basically, fair meiosis, an evolutionary device to ensure that all genes work for the “common good”, is a real-world analogue to the “veil of ignorance”, a hypothetical device to ensure that individuals choose the political, social, and economic arrangements that work best for all. Okasha argues that recognition of this analogy sheds light on both philosophical and biological issues.
Emilio Bruna maintains a great list of apps for smartphones that may be of use to field biologists. ht: Karen Lips via Twitter
Hoisted from the comments:
This old post of mine arguing that ecologists should do more research in model systems has a great comment thread, covering all sorts of issues. What makes for a good model system? What are ecology’s best model systems? How many model systems does ecology need? What are the advantages and drawbacks to “question-first” vs. “system-first” approaches to research? If you haven’t read this comment thread, you should.