Friday links: de-extinction (of board games about extinction), and more

Also this week: lessons for science communication from 1918, syllabi vs. terms of service, and more.

From Jeremy:

A rare example of a successful adversarial collaboration. Related old posts here, here, and here.

Ken Hughes reviews what science was like in the ol’ days, and asks what aspects of science today will someday be viewed as bizarre. Back in the old days of this blog, Meghan answered Ken’s question. She met Jim Crow, has sequenced DNA by hand, got what may be the last NSF grant for allozyme sequencing, has given a talk using a slide carousel, has submitted paper copies of a manuscript, and made figures in CricketGraph! No word on whether she’s made dynamite in her garage, or performed surgery with equipment purchased from a hardware store (to pick out two of the more striking bits of old school science from Ken’s post). But none of you are allowed to make fun of Meghan for being old, because I’m older less young than Meghan, and I refuse to be considered old non-young. 🙂

Sam Perrin on how the current board game renaissance seems like a good time to revive On the Brink, a board game about saving endangered species. While we’re at it, I think somebody should bring back SimLife, modified so that willow trees are not a superspecies that invariably takes over the world, and so that something besides plants can sustain a population.

Science profiles epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers.


This seems apropos:

3 thoughts on “Friday links: de-extinction (of board games about extinction), and more

  1. We played a good deal of SimEarth in the day, mainly focusing on the “terraform Mars” subgame. It was buggy (the temperature etc. readings never worked) but more fun than the main game.

    A standard failure mode with Mars, though, was developing an ecosystem in which forests would grow, oxygen would rise, then the forests would burn worldwide and oxygen would drop: you could get a regular cycle of that kind which went on indefinitely. Right now, going into our fifth day of unbreathable outside air, that cuts a bit too close to home….

    • I’m aware of that. But I don’t think it’s helpful to just publicize counts of papers by author X that have PubPeer comments.

      My view on this issue is more or less the same as Am Nat EiC Dan Bolnick’s. If you have serious concerns about a paper, you should bring those concerns to the attention of the journal EiC (even if it was an anonymous PubPeer comment that prompted your concern). You may also wish to share your concerns with colleagues, whether privately or publicly.

      But if you haven’t looked closely enough at concerns raised on PubPeer to form your own opinion of them, then I think you should be very hesitant to say publicly “hey everybody, there are PubPeer comments about author X!”. Publicly sharing the existence of PubPeer comments about the papers of author X, without further context, is going to read to others like an endorsement of those comments. Or even as a veiled, implicit–but public–accusation of scientific misconduct. Do you really want to do that unless you’re confident you agree with the substance of the comments you’re sharing? I’ve looked closely at many PubPeer comments on the papers of various ecologists. Some of those comments raise very serious concerns. Some of them raise very minor concerns. Some of them identify features of the data that are slightly puzzling but have many potential explanations. And some indicate that the commenter didn’t read the paper carefully, lacks sufficient expertise to evaluate the paper, made a mistake, or is malicious. I wouldn’t venture to estimate the frequencies of those categories (my experience is not a random sample…), but I’ve seen examples of them all.

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