Also this week: the latest on Plan S, Gresham’s Law vs. simulated pandas, fractals vs. David Foster Wallace, and more.
Here’s Greg Wilson’s handy new open access paper on 10 tips for teaching programming. (ht a colleague)
Data Colada critiques a recent PNAS paper finding that people have a general aversion to policy-oriented experiments. I linked to the paper when it first came out, so I wanted to link to this critique as well.
An interview with Daniella Rabaiotti, who has written three popular science books while doing an ecology Ph.D.
The latest on Plan S and the state of open access publishing more broadly. Momentum behind Plan S seems to be stalling.
Insights into the economics of open access publishing from the publication choices of, and open access fees charged to, Gates Foundation-funded researchers. One tidbit that slightly surprised me: fully OA journals from for-profit publishers and non-profit publishers charge similar fees on average. (though it’s not clear if this result would hold for a broader sample of researchers, submitting to a broader range of OA journals)
I don’t know anything about the psychological idea of ego depletion, which has been tested in many, many experiments. But this graph showing a steady linear decline in the effect size of ego depletion studies over time, from massive effect sizes in the late ’90s to basically zero today, is striking. The creators of the linked graph argue that study design has gradually improved over time, leading to less upwardly-biased estimates of effect size. Casual googling turns up various other cases of declines in estimated effect sizes over time in various social science fields (e.g., Gong & Jiao 2019, Rodgaard et al. 2019, but see Stephens 2016 for examples of increasing effect sizes over time). Anyway, all this had me thinking back to all that discussion of the “decline effect” a few years ago. I wonder what you’d find if you systematically went through a bunch of old ecological meta-analyses and plotted the effect sizes of individual studies vs. the years the studies were published? I mean, maybe you wouldn’t find anything interesting, but it wouldn’t be that hard to check. I’m sufficiently curious about this that I think I’ll do it… (UPDATE: in the comments, Tim Parker points us to a 2002 study of the decline effect in ecological meta-analyses. 2002 was a while ago, and many more meta-analyses have been published in EEB since then. Seems like this might be worth revisiting. Our commenters are the best!)
Did you know that Charles Darwin’s notebooks contain other sketches of evolutionary trees besides the iconic one? And that he never called any of them a “tree”? Indeed, next to one early sketch he wrote “tree not a good simile – endless piece of sea weed dividing”.
Any connection between fractals and, um, David Foster Wallace novels sounds pretty vague and superficial to me, but this post nevertheless contains the best brief explanation of fractal dimensions I’ve ever seen. I assume it’s a standard explanation that I just happened across for the first time, but still, it’s great. Before I only had the general idea of what fractal dimensions are but had no idea how they were calculated or how to interpret them. Now I do!
As someone who grew up in a family of small town grocers, and who thinks that ideals aren’t always best pursued by, well, idealism, I really enjoyed this.
And finally, this seems like as good a summary of 2019 as any: “grinding out millions of [warthogs] is the only hope you’ve got“. Hukuna matata!/it means no
worries pandas! (ht Matt Levine, who notes that this is a hilarious example of Gresham’s Law.)