Also this week: menstruation and field work, babies and field work, philosophy vs. dinosauroids, Rees Kassen vs. the Canadian government’s science policy, and more
Rees Kassen on what the new Canadian government needs to do to take science seriously. It’s to their credit that they immediately picked low-hanging fruit like restoring the long-form census and unmuzzling government scientists. But now they need to do harder things. One interesting suggestion: increasing the ability of the foreign service to use scientific information.
A while back Jeff Ollerton and Angela Moles did a great guest post arguing against the zombie ideas that species interactions are stronger and more specialized in the tropics. They’ve now expanded it into a peer-reviewed paper in Biotropica. They even managed to get the phrase “zombie ideas” into the title! You can look forward to a follow-up guest post on this from Jeff, Angela, and Biotropica EiC Emilio Bruna sometime later this year.
Derek Turner with a nice post on counterfactual evolutionary history and how we can evaluate the truth (or at least plausibility) of counterfactual claims. Think of Gould’s famous claim that humans almost certainly wouldn’t evolve again if you “reran the tape of life” from the time of the Cambrian explosion. Related: my review of Peter Bowler’s Darwin Deleted, a counterfactual history of evolutionary biology. What if Darwin had died on the Beagle voyage?
Last week, Anne Hilborn ran the @realscientists twitter account. Someone asked her how she dealt with her period while in the field, which ended up leading to a long twitter discussion about the logistics of dealing with menstruation in the field, with many people contributing (and Anne doing a great job leading the discussion). It had lots of useful tips, including for people (including men) who coordinate field programs. Fortunately, it was Storified by Carina Gsottbauer.
The lesson here is that with a bit of child-care support in place, and flexible attitudes, anything really is possible. If we freed up funds for this, it wouldn’t just be for the privileged few.
If, like me, you missed watching the 2016 Women in Science Summit hosted by the California Academy of Sciences while it was happening, here’s a link to the recording of it on youtube.
And, finally, Acclimatrix at Tenure, She Wrote had a powerful post on how universities respond to cases of sexual harassment and assault. I appreciated that she pointed out that it is not the responsibility of young women academics to figure out how to solve this problem. We need people in positions of power at universities and societies to respond strongly and clearly. That said, messages like this one from Melissa Wilson-Sayres are important, too: You are worthy. It is essential that students know they are supported.