Friday links: dance your statistics, ecological theory then and now, and more (link fixed, and UPDATEDx2)

From Meg:

This info-comic on why, really, you weren’t bitten by a brown recluse spider is entertaining. This reminded me of this old post from Chris Buddle on this topic. (ht: ESA and Terry McGlynn)

After Ada Lovelace Day, every female Royal Society member now has a Wikipedia page. Excellent! (ht: Wikimedia UK)

Those who are on twitter or who follow science blogs in general are presumably already aware of the completely unacceptable treatment of DNLee, and the revelations of equally unacceptable behavior by Bora Zivkovic. There are too many posts to link to, and the issues are too complicated to adequately address in Friday links. But I did think this article that resulted from how Danielle Lee was treated is particularly interesting and valuable to read, as it summarizes some of the struggles of women of color in science. DNLee herself said that this is a good summary of what she has experienced. I think it’s an important read. And there’s this cartoon, which I first learned of from Jacquelyn Gill, and which I think it does an excellent job of summarizing the difficult position women tend to be in in this situation. (Brian adds: this link provides a quick complete update for people not immersed in the twitterverse; it’s perceptive on what people need to take away.) (Jeremy adds: I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said elsewhere, and I think Meg and Brian have highlighted some of the best summaries of and reactions to these incidents. So let me just say that DNLee was treated badly, that Bora Zivkovic’s behavior was well over the line, that it was brave of DNLee and two of the women Bora harassed to speak out as they did, and that it was heartening to see many thoughtful responses online to both incidents).

From Jeremy:

Kew Gardens opened its fungarium to the public this week for the UK’s National Fungus Day. Kew also is hosting an outdoor exhibition of amazing larger-than-life sculptures of edible fungi. BBC News video here. I lived within walking distance of Kew as a postdoc and have fond memories of it, even though I’m a terrible plant ecologist and taxonomist and basically treated Kew as an unusually-diverse decorative garden. Which of course it is, but it’s much more than that. Kew pursues an extraordinary range of plant-related activities, including but by no means limited to ecological and evolutionary research.

Speaking of great ecology-related things to look at in the UK, the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition exhibits the prize-winning photos every fall. The 2013 exhibition of the winning photos goes on display today. I loved attending this exhibition every year when I lived in the UK, it’s absolutely brilliant. If you can’t attend, you should be able to navigate from the link above to a gallery of the winning photos. A couple of teaser photos are up already as I write this. (UPDATE: One of the best things about living in the UK and getting to see the exhibition in person was not having to deal with the incompetently-designed online photo gallery. Three clicks to get to the winning image?! Seriously?)

Brembs et al. (open access) present lots of interesting new data on the value and use of impact factor, patterns of publication bias and retraction in relation to impact factor. Includes analysis and discussion of how any “hierarchy” of journals both affects and is affected by scientists’ choices about where to submit their papers and what papers to read and cite. They argue for a radical proposal: abandoning journals altogether in favor of a library-based scholarly communication system filtered by computer algorithms. Provocative. I haven’t yet read it closely enough to have an opinion myself, but I’ve skimmed it enough to determine that it’s worth a close read.

BioDiverse Perspectives continues their interview series by talking to conservation biologist Claire Kremen.

The central limit theorem, illustrated by cartoon ecologists studying rabbits and dragons. Cute video.

Another way to illustrate statistical concepts: modern dance. Still trying to decide what I think of these, as pedagogy and as dance. I found the correlation one too obvious to be very interesting. But others seemed effective in something like the way over-complicated figures can be effective. Forcing the viewer to spend a bit of mental effort figuring out how the dance illustrates the statistical concept in question obliges the viewer to think about that statistical concept, and tests the viewer’s understanding of that concept in a novel way. I do wonder if the explanatory text in the videos is essential. If it were edited out, would you still be able to figure out the mapping from the dance to the statistical concept? I’ve watched very little modern dance and never studied it, so don’t have any intelligent comments to offer on these dances as dances. Except to note that, because the dances are aiming for a pretty “literal” possible illustration of statistical concepts, it might not be fair to judge them as creative art. Now, how do you dance “statistical machismo“? 🙂 (HT Scholarly Kitchen)

My friend Greg Crowther suggests a way to detect subtle plagiarists, who are careful not to copy exact phrases: compare sequences of references. He notes that this is analogous to a BLAST search (a standard technique for matching related nucleotide and amino acid sequences), and links to others who’ve independently implemented the same idea.

Ben Haller is surveying ecologists on their opinions and experiences regarding the interaction between theoretical and empirical work. Go fill it out, I did! I love attempts to get data on topics on which everyone has strong but totally anecdotal opinions. (Brian saw this one too, but he wasn’t quick enough, I’d already claimed the link as mine!)

While Ben is surveying what ecologists think about theory now, Sam Scheiner has surveyed what they’ve thought about theory in the past (link fixed) He’s gone back through old issues of Ecology, Ecology Letters, American Naturalist, Oikos, Evolution, and Journal of Evolutionary Biology, scoring paper introductions for how much they involved theory (not at all, some, or strongly), and how they involved theory (tested it, developed it, reviewed it). Interesting data–as I said, I love it when people compile data on this stuff. Your reaction to the results will depend on how important you think engaging with theory is. Sam thinks it’s hugely important. So while the percentage of papers engaging with theory in some fashion has shot up since the 1960s, Sam’s dismayed that current percentage isn’t higher, and that testing theory isn’t more common compared to theory development. And let me just say that Sam Scheiner takes a backseat to no one when it comes to deliberately-provocative titles! UPDATE: In the comments, Sam reveals that credit for the title goes to Judie Bronstein, who saw him give a talk on this work. So, Judie Bronstein takes a back seat to no one when it comes to provocative titles!

A compilation of advice for aspiring academics, from my friend Owen Petchey at the University of Zurich. Tips on everything from presentations, to writing and reviewing journal articles, to job hunting, to using Twitter. Includes advice aimed at postdocs as well as graduate students.

How should universities accommodate students with learning disabilities? Thoughtful post (reaching no firm conclusion) from Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.

Hoisted from the comments:

I know lots of you read Brian’s great post on exploratory statistics. But did you read the comment thread too? If not, go check it out right now; it’s great too! Very good conversation on various topics. How would one actually bring about the culture change Brian argued for? Would there be drawbacks to that culture change? What constitutes an “interesting” exploratory analysis? There’s also discussion of statistical techniques to (partially) correct for “model selection bias”. And stick around until near the end for Steve Walker’s joking (?) suggestion that we all be forced to test each other’s hypotheses. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Friday links: dance your statistics, ecological theory then and now, and more (link fixed, and UPDATEDx2)

  1. Hi Jeremy, the link for the Scheiner paper takes me to an authentication page for the U of Calgary website. Any chance of pointing to the preprint / article on the journal home page?

    Thanks for a another great list.

  2. The manatee/reef fish link took me to a sea turtle and pink stuff (and then it took me 8 clicks to get to the winner! Very badly designed).

  3. Credit for my provocative title goes to Judie Bronstein (U Arizona, eidtor-in-cheif of Am Nat) who suggested it after my talk at ESA where I presented these data.

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