Also this week: the latest bad news at PLOS, multilevel selection vs. university budgets, the most 2019 story of 2019, mimicry in
butterflies political philosophy, and more.
Should PLOS authors start to worry that PLOS is going to go under? Phil Davis looks at their latest financial statements, which reveal they ran a $5.5 million deficit in 2018 on $32 million in revenue. PLOS hasn’t broken even or run a surplus since 2015, and at their current burn rate they’ll burn through all their remaining savings in just a few years. And the number of papers that PLOS One publishes continues to decline at about the same (rapid) rate it has every year since 2013. I link to this solely because of an admittedly-parochial concern, one which I’m guessing some of you share. I’ve published two papers with PLOS; what I should do to ensure those papers continue to exist? I feel like I ought to hedge my bets on this now, rather than waiting until PLOS successfully implements a turnaround plan, or announces it’s shutting down, or just suddenly vanishes from the intertubes, or whatever. At a minimum, I guess I should make sure I have pdfs on my hard drive and backed up on the cloud? Any other suggestions? Also, just speaking personally, and recognizing that others will feel differently, I’m definitely not going to submit any more papers to PLOS in future.
I’m very late to this, but here’s Charles Goodnight using multilevel selection theory to explain why “incentive based budgeting” is a terrible idea for any institution. As he points out, and as I’ve pointed out in various old Friday linkfest items, this kind of budgeting contributed to the demise of Sears.
This looks like it could be a good example for classes on mathematical modeling and statistical prediction as well as climatology: a new paper evaluating the performance of past climate model projections. Past climate models–even those from as far back as the 1970s–did very well at predicting future climate warming. And most of their errors were due to mistaken forecasts of how much greenhouse gas humans would pump into the atmosphere, rather than getting the climatological bits wrong.
Athene Donald muses on the importance–and difficulty–of avoiding gendered descriptions of others in casual conversation. The difficulty is because so many words are used more often to refer to people of one gender than another. It’s also because there’s substantial contextual variation (e.g., among different scholarly fields) in which words are used more often to refer to people of a particular gender.
As a connoisseur of weird analogies between other fields and ecology, I was amused to read a political philosopher reaching for an eco-evolutionary analogy.
In a randomized experiment (link goes to an unreviewed preprint that I’ve merely skimmed), people who were assigned to quit Facebook for a month before the 2018 US midterm elections were a bit less informed about politics, a bit less politically polarized, a bit happier, and used Facebook a lot less after the experiment ended. Sounds like a good trade-off to me, which makes me glad I never joined Facebook (YMMV, of course). Somebody should do the same experiment for Twitter.
Of course you can use your coding skills plus logistic regression to completely automate a popular Instagram feed and also automatically turn it into…more free meals at New York City restaurants than one person could ever eat. Now that you know this, please answer the following question:
If David Attenborough narrated The Apprentice. Because, due to a technical glitch, he did! “But they still have to learn to swim.” 🙂 “Young, fully developed octopus pop out.” 🙂 🙂 🙂 You should totally click through, the whole thread is hysterical! Now I want to see a David Attenborough documentary narrated with lines from The Apprentice.