Friday links: text mining the ESA meeting, the rise and decline of the US (Forest Service), and more

Also this week: Shark Week jumps the shark, salmon cannon (really?!), depressing data on the gender gap in tenure decisions (in some fields), no we shouldn’t shut down all comment sections, and more. Oh, and Google Maps vs. the Proclaimers.

From Jeremy:

Noam Ross text mined all the ESA meeting abstracts from this year and last year to figure out what we’re talking about. “Species”, apparently. Actually, the results are kind of hard to interpret. Though I’m surprised that “functional” and “trait” are nowhere to be found. (ht Small Pond Science)

For more conventional ESA summaries, see The EEB and Flow and the Journal of Ecology blog.

Here’s Francis Fukuyama’s big picture think piece on the history of the US Forest Service. The bits of specific interest to ecologists are at the beginning. The piece goes on to use the Forest Service example in support of an argument about what’s wrong with US governance, but I’m just linking to it for the Forest Service bits, which were interesting and new to me. (ht Marginal Revolution)

Ben Haller has a new paper in BioScience reporting results of his survey of ecologists and evolutionary biologists on the interplay of theory and empiricism. The headline result is a mutual lack of trust and understanding between empiricists and theoreticians, along with a mutual desire for more interaction and understanding. Some background and comments from Ben here.

A new, as yet unpublished study says that, controlling for research productivity, female assistant profs in sociology and computer science are much less likely than male assistant profs to earn tenure at US research universities. The gender gap is much smaller and not statistically significant in English. See this old post for some haphazard data from other fields, which overall are more reassuring. (ht @hormiga)

The price of new college textbooks continues to skyrocket.

This Week in Overgeneralization: Everyone and their cat seems to be linking approvingly to this piece arguing that all comment sections should be shut down, thereby restricting trolls and idiots to their own blogs, which the rest of us could easily avoid. Which, I guess if your comment section sucks (or you don’t want to moderate sucky comments), sure, shut it down. But if it’s awesome like ours, why on earth would you shut it down?

The Discovery Channel lied to scientists to get them to participate in fake Shark Week documentaries, and twisted their words with deliberately-misleading editing. Have to say I’m surprised to see one of the scientists who was hoodwinked nevertheless recommends participating in Shark Week as long as you ask lots of questions first and are careful about what you say. Frankly, I don’t see how you can possibly ask enough questions and be careful enough about what you say to prevent your words from being twisted by a film editor who wants to twist your words. And if you think you have been sufficiently questioning and careful and then find out you were wrong, what are you going to do? Sue the Discovery Channel? Go to a blogger or reporter, whose writeup will be read by many fewer (and different) people than those who watch Shark Week? And if you somehow did manage to ensure it was impossible for them to twist your words, they’re simply not going to use your words at all. So there’s no way for you to “make a difference” by “being involved” with Shark Week. This is nothing like dealing with honest reporters and documentary film makers whose goal is to tell the truth.

Question for our fisheries biology readers: is this salmon cannon a real thing that is seriously being considered as a way to help salmon navigate upstream?

And finally, this week in Good Questions That Have Nothing To Do With Ecology: Where the hell were The Proclaimers actually walking to? And did they fall down at the door–or surface for air? 🙂

2 thoughts on “Friday links: text mining the ESA meeting, the rise and decline of the US (Forest Service), and more

  1. “The gender gap is much smaller and not statistically significant in English.” This sentence baffled me for a minute. (If I do a “Prueba de T” rather than a T test, p > 0.05? What if I orally present the results in English, but with a German accent?)

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