Also this week: learning from dishonest signals (book blurb edition), what to get the paleontologist who has everything, Slate Star Codex is back (?), Anthony Fauci vs. pitching, and more.
Jonathan Pruitt has lost yet another paper to retraction. This time it’s Holbrook et al. 2014 Animal Behaviour. The retraction is for duplicated sequences of data across different spider colonies that were purportedly independent of one another. Pruitt collected the data, and agreed to the retraction. For background, see here and links therein. (ht @KateLaskowski)
A recent high-profile Nature paper on a hummingbird-sized dinosaur preserved in amber is being retracted. Paleontology isn’t my field, but from reading commentary from paleontologists and talking to a paleontologist friend, I too wonder if the main reason for the retraction is different than what’s stated in the retraction notice. Like, I really do wonder! By “wonder” I mean “I don’t know and would be curious to learn more”, not “I have a strong suspicion that I’m insinuating”. I also wonder whether it would be better for the full story to come out, or for idly curious bystanders like me to have to keep wondering. Just speaking generally, there are contexts in life in which “polite fictions” are fine, or even desirable. Is this one of those contexts? I dunno; just musing out loud. That’s the way my brain works: specific incidents often get me thinking about some broader issue, even though it’s not clear if/how that broader issue relates to the specific incident that got me thinking about it.
This is from 1996 but it’s still worth your time: mathematician Gian-Carlo Rota on “10 things I wish I had been taught.” Discuss: how much of it is still good advice, and how much of it is specific to mathematics? Re: Rota’s claim that every mathematician only has a few tricks, see this related old post on how “techniques aren’t powerful, scientists are“. ht Hal Caswell, via the comments.
Stephen Heard on what you can learn from book blurbs–and reference letters–even though the people who write blurbs, and reference letters, are selected to be positive and have incentives to exaggerate.
Discussion of how Anthony Fauci has balanced politics and science throughout his career, arguing that his approach won’t work with Trump. But there’s no alternative approach that would work better, is there?
Speaking of Anthony Fauci, I sure hope his first pitch isn’t an omen. 🙂
Not from an ecology journal, but this cover art is excellent: