Friday links: lessons from a recent NSF panelist, have a Secchi day, and more

Also this week: lowering rethinking the bar, against the usual advice for avoiding gender bias in reference letters, one of the more unusual “alt-ac” jobs you’ll ever see, what to get Meg for her birthday, Jeremy’s New Year’s resolution, and more

From Meg:

I really liked the thought exercise/analogy in this tweetstorm by Sara Mauskopf. It’s relatively short, so I screen-capped it:


Staying on twitter, I want this blanket:

Continuing on the theme of amazing gifts: Secchi disk pint glasses from the Wisconsin Center for Limnology. Start your day with a Secchi disk mug from the Society of Canadian Limnologists, spend the middle sampling a lake with a real Secchi disk, play some ultimate with a Secchi disc after school/work, then have a drink from a Secchi disk pint glass. Perfect day, eh?

From Jeremy:

Terry McGlynn recently served on a couple of NSF panels. Here are the lessons he took away from the experience.

Ambika Kamath with a rant against the usual advice for avoiding gender bias in reference letters. I’m not sure that I agree with all of it, but it made me think.

Sticking with people who are Angry On The Intertubes: Andrew Hendry says f**k replication, f**k controls. His points are familiar, but it’s a useful entry point into the age-old debate between rigor vs. “realism”. Related posts from me and Brian. See in particular that old post of mine; unfortunately it’s only a short step from Andrew’s defensible stance on “realism” to a rather more extreme and less-defensible one. Coincidentally, Andrew Gelman has a new post on the same topic from a social science perspective. It’s amusing that in many social sciences, the same basic debates play out, but between different parties. In ecology, people who do field work–both observational and experimental–are probably the ones most likely to complain that the sort of microcosm experiments I do are “unrealistic”. But in many social sciences, the field experimentalists and field observationalists are on opposing sides of the rigor vs. realism debate.

Margaret Kosmala reflects on the first year of her blog. Also, I take her report that Dave Tilman “definitely doesn’t read blogs” as a personal challenge. My New Year’s Resolution is to get Dave Tilman to read Dynamic Ecology. Get ready for a long series of posts on Things Dave Tilman Is Really Into. (Just kidding, obviously. πŸ™‚ )

John Ioannidis is famous for his argument that most published scientific claims are false, and more broadly for pushing for more rigorous study design and statistical practice. So it’s surprising to see him repeating a strange fallacy about frequentist statistical tests.

Psychology textbooks report “urban legends” uncritically and do not alert students that controversial fields and ideas are in fact controversial. (ht Vox) This is a particularly bad look given that psychology is Ground Zero for the “replication crisis.” I’m proud to have had some small influence on how ecology textbooks cover one particular controversial idea.

And finally, some of you probably already knew about this (I did), but in case not:

We have an old post on ecologists who are awesome at things besides ecology. Apparently we should expand it to “mathematicians who are awesome at things besides mathematics”. Or “NFL players who are awesome at things besides American football.” πŸ™‚ And before you all start commenting with examples of other super-smart elite athletes: everyone already knows about Moe Berg. πŸ™‚ (Meg adds: We at Michigan are proud of Microbiology & Immunology grad student Amanda Elmore, who won a gold medal in rowing at the Olympics this past summer. πŸ™‚ )

Hoisted from the comments:

I said earlier this week that fewer people were commenting and our comment threads weren’t quite as great as they used to be. Our commenters clearly took this as a challenge. πŸ™‚ Witness the terrific discussion of whether quantitative metrics can predict whether you’ll get an interview for a faculty position. Includes useful advice on how search committees actually work.

4 thoughts on “Friday links: lessons from a recent NSF panelist, have a Secchi day, and more

  1. Defining “rigor” came up recently:

    More than Controls and replication in experimental design, the idea of intellectual honesty and accountability for your data and overall quality of science should always be stated. I took some ethics courses over the years and am of the (humble) opinion that ethics should still be incorporated into many different courses – not just science.

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