Philosopher of ecology Jay Odenbaugh argues that ecological theory doesn’t need to make accurate predictions to be successful science, and that you’re misunderstanding the purpose of theory if you think otherwise. The paper’s a few years old, but you probably missed it at the time and it’s still relevant. Speaking of predictions, I predict a counterargument from Jeff Houlahan in the comments in 3..2…1… 🙂 (ht Ben Kerr)
In 2003 Wellesley College implemented a policy to combat grade inflation. Here’s a rundown of the effects it’s had since then. It’s an interesting study in part because the policy wasn’t campus-wide–it only affected 2/3 of the departments (most of the science departments, and economics, weren’t affected by the new policy because grades in those departments ran lower). Briefly, the policy worked–the marks that were supposed to drop, dropped, and by just enough to comply with the new policy. Students’ choices of major shifted, at least within the social sciences, in such a way as to suggest that previously students were choosing their majors in part out of a desire for high marks. Students in the affected departments gave their profs poorer course evaluations. And there were other effects.
In the future, everyone’s papers will be cited for 15 minutes. (ht Retraction Watch)
To make up for the paucity of reading material this week, here are some funny pictures I found by googling “ecology meme”: