Also this week: A leading ecology journal goes to double-blind review, the EPA vs. environmental scientists, the scariest scientific jack o’lantern, and more.
Turns out I’m not the only person to have a paper rejected by Ecology, then published by AmNat:
The US EPA is disqualifying anyone who receives EPA funding from serving on its three main scientific advisory panels. On the grounds that receiving EPA funding creates a conflict of interest. This opens the door for those panels to be staffed by people who work in the industries EPA regulates. Which is totally not a conflict of interest.
In what qualifies as good science policy news by 2017 US standards, former talk radio host and non-scientist Sam Clovis has withdrawn his nomination as USDA chief scientist. Clovis has been implicated in Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election. More commentary here, focusing on how Clovis was only one of many senior administration nominees or appointees lacking even a semblance of relevant expertise.
Global Ecology and Biogeography (where our own Brian McGill is EiC) will be going to mandatory double-blind review as of Jan. 1. Here’s the editorial explaining why, and how it will work.
Andrew Gelman on why most people vastly overestimate the proportion of gays and lesbians in the population. Got me thinking back to how ecologists as a group seriously underestimate the proportion of women among recent N. American tenure track faculty hires. I’m not convinced the root problem is availability bias, or people routinely overestimating small proportions, or whatever. I wonder if the root problem is simply not knowing the answer. When asked “What proportion of X is Y?” without being given the option to respond “I have no idea”, people are either going to know the answer, or else they’re going to make some wild guess based on nothing much. Basically nobody who doesn’t know the answer is going to try to Fermi estimation, much less do it well.
Interesting piece by David Wootton on whether the Reformation caused the scientific revolution, or whether the two shared a common cause. Not mutually-exclusive hypotheses, of course. I found this interesting because I’m on a long-term mission to learn more about history of science by working my way backwards in time and outwards geographically from Charles Darwin. So far I’m back to the Romantic period in Britain (and a bit in France). The linked piece gives me a start on the 16th and 17th centuries.
Speaking of Darwin, I want this shirt, but with Charles Darwin rather than Max Weber. Unfortunately, none of the canonical images of Darwin have quite the right facial expression, so it might require a bit of photoshopping.
Clerihews. I’d write one myself, but nothing rhymes with “Darwin”. 🙂 +1000 Internet Points for anyone who writes a clerihew about an ecologist in the comments.