Also this week: read ALL the Terry McGlynn things, ice ages vs. the Slutsky-Yule effect, grad student mental health, the null hypothesis for p-hacking, and more!
Thanks to Terry McGlynn for pointing me to this great post by Nash Turley (in the comments of my post on academics as humans). In it, Nash argues that mental health issues present the greatest barriers to success among grad students, and gives suggestions on how to acknowledge and address those problems. I agree with Nash that this can be a major barrier for students. Colleagues from many different universities have said this is an important issue they face in their graduate programs.
Speaking of Terry, he had a really important, thought-provoking post this week on the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, and how they perpetuate privilege and end up being a barrier to diversifying STEM. This is not an issue I’d considered before, but I’m glad Terry made me start thinking of it!
Here’s a call to “rewild our language of landscape”, to add back in words related to nature. It includes this passage:
The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.
As someone who loves words and nature, I loved reading this piece! I particularly liked this line:
to use language well is to use it particularly: precision of utterance as both a form of lyricism and a species of attention
Long, but beautifully written! (ht: Jacquelyn Gill)
Here’s an interesting blog post by an evolutionary biologist, John Stanton-Geddes, who has decided to leave academia for a career as a data scientist. (My only quibble: starting academic salaries are definitely negotiable at least in some cases.) ht: Titus Brown
I also enjoyed this post from BiochemBelle about changing her plans to follow an academic path (which is often seen as the default) to a non-academic path. She talks about the fears and anxieties and doubts associated with that decision, but also about the pride and gratification she gets from following her own path.
Charley Krebs points us to two recent reviews of the surprisingly weak evidence for alternative stable states, regime shifts, and tipping points in ecology. Yup. Frankly, even in microcosms it’s hard to find decent examples, and that’s not for lack of trying.
Following up on last week’s post on evidence for widespread p-hacking, this old post from Daniel Lakens (commenting on a study I’ve linked to previously) argues that p-hacking should not be expected to increase the frequency of p-values just below 0.05. I’ll continue to follow this discussion with interest.
How come the college-level textbooks in any given field all use the same “classic” (in the sense of “really old”) examples, have the same organization, etc.? Doesn’t this have the effect of preserving the field in aspic? I’ve complained about this in the past, now Terry McGlynn takes up the call for truly new textbooks. And see the comments in both posts, where Markus Eichorn reveals that he is on it.