Friday links: comedy wildlife photography, phones vs. pedagogy, and more

Also this week: wildlife biology career advice, wildlife biology cautionary tale, why saving the planet doesn’t mean stopping economic growth, noted wilful p-hacker retires, and more.

From Jeremy:

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf…researcher? NY Times deep dive centered on Rob Wielgus, until recently a tenured wildlife ecologist at Washington State. Worth your time. Let’s just say I’m glad/fortunate/spoiled/self-indulgent that I work on species and questions with no political salience. (ht @dsquareddigest) UPDATE: and the see the comments for links to some of the papers referred to in the story. Note that I haven’t read any of the papers myself and have no view as to the scientific truth here.

In case you aren’t too discouraged by that last link (which does concern an extreme situation), here’s Stephanie Schuttler’s advice for anyone thinking of a career in wildlife biology. (ht @CommNatural)

Why saving the planet doesn’t mean stopping economic growth. Twitter thread version here.

Dan Bolnick lists the top 10 professional mistakes he’s ever made. Way ahead of you, Dan. 🙂

Nutrition researcher Brian Wansink has resigned from Cornell, effective at the end of the academic year at which point he will retire. Until then has been removed from all teaching and research so that he can focus on cooperating with Cornell in its ongoing review of his previous work. He has had to retract 13 papers and correct 15 others. Last year, publication of emails between him and his trainees revealed him systematically telling trainees to p-hack and engage in other inappropriate research practices in order to drum up media interest in the lab’s work. His retirement comes in response to a Cornell investigation which found him guilty of “academic misconduct”, including “misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.” I wonder (and this is total speculation on my part that might well be completely wrong) if behind the scenes he and the university reached an explicit or tacit mutual agreement to let him resign/retire, rather than Cornell having to fight to fire him. Serious cases of academic misconduct don’t always end with such a clear public outcome or with appropriate consequences for the guilty party. Hopefully such outcomes will become more common in future. Further coverage from Retraction Watch.

Updating pedagogy for the smartphone era.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography award finalists have been announced. The rhino standing in front of the peacock is a once in a lifetime shot. And who knew black skimmers could be so…disturbing? (ht Matt Levine)

This has nothing to do with science, but as a former bad cross country runner I just have to say I’m stunned by Eliud Kipchoge’s new marathon world record. He ran over 26 miles at a pace that, in the best shape of my life, I could’ve maybe matched for 400 m. People are frickin’ amazing.

6 thoughts on “Friday links: comedy wildlife photography, phones vs. pedagogy, and more

  1. Re: the times story about wolf research out of Washington. Apropos to this excerpt:

    “So Wielgus was already feeling persecuted when, in early 2016, researchers at the University of Washington and Kathmandu University published a study that contradicted Wielgus’s 2014 findings. Tweaking the statistical models, they determined that killing a wolf one year decreases the number of cattle and sheep killed the next year. To his opponents, the rebuttal study was support for their case that Wielgus was biased and doing shoddy work in the service of his prejudice. Wielgus saw it as part of a political vendetta against him — a rival university prompted to do a hit job.”

    I would strongly encourage anyone interested in this story to read the papers in question from Plos One:

    The original paper:

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

    And the rebuttal paper. Here be sure to look at the comments thread as well, which includes a number of replies from Wielgus himself:

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148743

    There is now a second paper that also refutes the conclusions of the original.

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187264

  2. Interesting link on growth/energy. I’ve always been puzzled by “environmentalists” who propose to save the planet by preventing people from using energy. It’s the exactly wrong approach – a larger market for *all* energy means a larger market for “clean” energy, which gives its providers more opportunity to innovate and refine, as well as to tap economies of scale – ultimately bringing the price down. Restricting energy use, however, drives buyers to the lowest cost option – existing technology – aka fossil fuels.

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