This is a rather depressing summary of a new book that focuses on women and parents in academia. One sample quote from one of the book’s authors: “Certainly our most important finding has been that family negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, early academic careers. Furthermore, academic women who advance through the faculty ranks have historically paid a considerable price for doing so, in the form of much lower rates of family formation, fertility, and higher rates of family dissolution.” I warned you that it was depressing!
Last year I suggested that the ESA annual meeting should have Science Cafes. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought so. This year the ESA has partnered with local Minneapolis science cafe program Sip of Science to do a science cafe on Wed. Aug. 9 at the Aster on the Minneapolis riverfront. And rather than just going with somebody who’s already well-known for doing outreach-type events, they are holding a contest to pick the speaker! You have until June 23 to enter the contest. Kudos to ESA for having a go at this, I think and hope it will be a great success.
Ace science blogger Athene Donald reviews E. O. Wilson’s new book, Letters to a Young Scientist, from which Wilson’s recent and much-discussed editorial on math was drawn. She compares it unfavorably to a similar 1979 book, Nobel Prize winner Peter Medawar’s Advice to a Young Scientist. Whatever you think of Wilson (and I’m guessing that to many of you he’s a hero, or at least someone you greatly respect), you really ought to click through. Athene began Wilson’s book with high hopes, based on positive reviews it had received elsewhere. She ended up very negative, in ways that I think are very insightful and astute. The problems with Wilson’s book go way deeper than his dislike of math or his tendency to overgeneralize from his own example.
Speaking of advice to young scientists, here’s advice from Zombie Marie Curie. An oldie but goodie.
When is it ok to do a regular ol’ least-squares linear regression with a binary (0,1) response variable? If you said “never”, you are wrong. As Brian has noted more than once, routinely insisting on complex procedures (here, a logit or probit model), without bothering to consider the purpose of the analysis, is the hallmark of people who think they know more about statistics than they actually do. (HT The Monkey Cage) UPDATE: Ace statistician and blogger Cosma Shalizi pops up in the comments to note his own disagreement with the linked post. I’m a fan of Cosma’s work so I’m flattered he stopped by. And while I found the linked post interesting and provocative (my own training was of course to always use logistic regression with binary response variables), I freely admit I’m not a statistician. So I could be mistaking “way off base” for “interesting and provocative” here. Cosma’s views here certainly are going to be better-grounded than mine, so if you want to just pick someone to believe rather than clicking the links and deciding for yourself, you ought to go with Cosma rather than me. :-)
John Bruno publishes and discusses the reviews one of his papers received from marine ecology journals. He also suggests that sloppy, biased, and overly-critical peer reviews are much more common at specialized journals (in his case, marine ecology and coral reef journals) than at leading general journals like Ecology and Ecology Letters. Do you agree? I have no idea, since I don’t have the option of publishing in specialized journals (there aren’t any for the sort of work I do).
Andrew Gelman asks about the statistical properties of the “smartest person you know” network. That is, if you asked every one of a large number of people “Who is the smartest person you know?”, and then drew an arrow from each person to the smartest person they know, what would the resulting network look like? He notes that you could do the same thing with any referral network. So, who wants to do this for “Who’s the best ecologist you know?”
Carnival of Evolution #60 is now up.
The ultimate univariate probability distribution explorer. Great free resource from the makers of Mathematica (HT Economist’s View)
Frequency of beards among Nobel Prize-winning economists. An amusing riff on the stereotype that economists all have beards. Someone should do a similar analysis for MacArthur Award-winning or Mercer Award-winning ecologists. (UPDATE: In the comments, Brian crunches the numbers and finds that MacArthur Award winners are indeed significantly more likely to have beards than the general population!)
Extinct For A Reason: a funny compendium of invented extinct species. Behold, the neapolitan zebra! Some of these creations are reminiscent of the sidehill gouger. Then again, are you so sure these animals would be “evolosers”? Because actually-existing species are every bit as implausible.