Also this week: using Title IX for harassment, nobody else cares what you think their research priorities should be, Nature TTL photography competition winners, review of the new Marie Curie biopic, and more.
The terrifying story of a lesbian academic who was subjected to a Title IX investigation for sexual harassment, based on completely fabricated anonymous accusations. It cost her and her wife their dream jobs at another university, tens of thousands of dollars, and severe stress. And although they managed to identify the liar, they aren’t legally permitted to publicly name the individual, who could do the same thing to someone else tomorrow.
Preregistered experiments aren’t much help for fundamental research in the absence of theory, and they can even be a net negative in the presence of weak theory. I really like the quote from Greg Francis: “you don’t get much value from preregistering guesses”.
The winners of the new Nature TTL photography competition. Some truly outstanding images. The last image is a picture of me from earlier this week, doing social distancing. 🙂 (ht my dad)
There’s little evidence that research prioritization papers (e.g., “The identification of 100 ecological questions of high policy relevance in the UK”) actually have any effect on ecological research priorities. I’m not surprised.
Nature reviews the new Marie Curie biopic Radioactive. Sounds like a fairly disappointing film. Like, why have Pierre Curie go off to Stockholm to accept the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics while Marie is left at home to be “just a wife”? In reality, Pierre Curie refused to accept the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics unless Marie was awarded the prize as well. That seems like a dramatic real-life incident that would fit well with the movie’s story arc, and isn’t improved by messing with it. But I dunno, I haven’t seen the movie. Have you seen it? What did you think of it?
One of the least-important negative effects of COVID-19: creating fertile ground for fake viral stories about wild animals roaming locked-down cities.
Another of the least-important negative effects of COVID-19: making smart people say (more or less), “I predict that the coronavirus outbreak will force society to permanently change in…whichever way I find desirable, thereby proving I was right about everything all along.” (ht Sean Trende) In particular, I was struck by the multiple smart people in the linked piece predicting that the coronavirus outbreak will stamp out anti-science, anti-expert sentiment. To which, good luck with that. Like Sean Trende, I appreciated that Theda Skocpol used her contribution to the linked piece to highlight the huge, already-ongoing consequences of the outbreak for the many people who have lost their jobs and lack much financial cushion. Rather than making “predictions” that are just wish-fulfillment fantasies.
Some of you who are Twitter users may be interested in this: a browser extension that hides all metrics on Twitter. (ht Ezra Klein)
A huge longitudinal study of why US college students major in psychology. Basically, it comes down to (i) exposure to psychology in high school, and (ii) the perception that psychology is easier than STEM majors. Students who get poor marks often transfer into psychology from STEM fields, whereas students who get good marks often transfer out of psychology into STEM fields. I would be curious to see similar studies of ecology and adjacent fields, such as fish & wildlife. (ht Jeffrey Sachs)
And finally, the Ode to Joy in a time of social distancing. I needed this and I bet you do too. 🙂