Also this week: Jeremy really leans into the whole “better late than never” thing, Modern Monetary Theory vs. the Price equation, Rich Lenski vs. creationism, questioning “Insectageddon”, great animal behavior cartoon, and more. Lots of good stuff this week, only some of it very old!
Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex fame with a lengthy explanation of why he shut down a subreddit that originally grew out of his blog’s commenting forums. Read the whole thing, especially if all you know about Scott or Slate Star Codex is what you’ve heard n-th hand on social media. Worth a read as a case study in the toxicity of much online discussion these days.
I’m late to this, but here’s Joern Fischer on what kind of hope we should have about climate change and its effects. Jeff Ollerton comments. Closely related to Meghan’s recent post (and associated excellent comment thread) on whether instructors teaching about climate change should try to leave students feeling hopeful or empowered.
I’m very late to this, but I just became aware of Ecology For The Masses, an ecology blog by three PhD students plus some guest authors. They have a podcast too. Recent posts and podcasts cover everything from gender equity in ecology, to communicating scientific uncertainty to policymakers, to the ecology of movie monsters. If you like Dynamic Ecology, you will probably like Ecology For The Masses too, so check it out! (ht Meghan)
Tim Poisot has moved his blog a few times, but if you weren’t aware (as I wasn’t until just this week, to my embarrassment), he’s been at Armchair Ecology for a while now. Here’s a recent Armchair Ecology post asking whether ecology can still be said to have theoretical and empirical schools of thought. Related old post of mine. See also.
I’m even later to this (as in, my lateness was born, grew up, went to college, and is now an architect in Chicago), but I just discovered Errant Science. Blog posts about day-to-day lab life, illustrated with amusing stick figure cartoons. Can you tell that I’ve decided to start seeking out new sources of reading material?
Hey, I’m only slightly late to this one! Manu Saunders with a very good post straightfowardly pointing out the serious technical flaws with the “Insectageddon” study that was all over the news recently. Manu also straightforwardly summarizes what conclusions the existing literature establishes, and what conclusions it doesn’t.
Rich Lenski read creationist Michael Behe’s new book so you don’t have to. Better him than me; his comment thread got filled with creationists, to whom he took the time to reply politely and at length.
Time series data on how much you have to publish to get hired at, and tenured at, top US sociology departments since the early 1990s. (ht @kjhealy). You should definitely not jump to the conclusion that a similar analysis for ecology would come out the same way. For instance, the top young ecologists and evolutionary biologists who win the ASN Young Investigator Awards do not publish any more often now than they did decades ago. And recently-hired TT ecology faculty vary so much in their publication records that I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t detect an upward trend in the median over time against the background of all that variation. Hmm…I should look into this and do a post!
I’ve been reading articles and blog posts about “Modern Monetary Theory” (example). I share this only because it’s gotten me thinking about the art of making good use of partitions (what economists call “accounting identities”). I think partitions are super-useful in ecology and evolution. But misunderstandings of them definitely run to type. I’ve found it interesting to read criticisms of MMT that echo longstanding criticisms of the Price equation in ecology and evolution. And found it interesting that (as best I can tell) those criticisms are justified in the case of MMT but not justified in the case of the Price equation. That is, in the case of MMT it seems to be the proponents of the partition who’ve misunderstood it, whereas in the case of the Price equation it seems to be the critics who’ve misunderstood it.
Um, does anyone else know anything about this? As an R user, how worried should I be?:
I should’ve linked to this before the Oscars, but whatever. Meghan totally needs to add Oscar-nominated animated short “Animal Behaviour” to her list of videos for teaching ecology (alternative link for US readers; not sure if it’ll work). 🙂 In the
totally unbiased opinion of this Canadian biologist, this is the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE. Best line is a tough call between “Clearly sexual cannibalism is, for some, still a taboo”, “No, that’s not anything like pie”, and “Oh, um, I think this is yours”. 🙂 Vaguely related: our old posts on the best movies about scientists, and best movie/tv scientist lines.