Also this week: how much would we have to pay you to research something else, faculty jobpocalypse, Excel vs. English public health, and more.
The 2020 MacArthur Fellows (colloquially known as the “genius grants”) include evolutionary geneticist Nels Elde.
Wow: Brown University Economics is suspending all graduate admissions for the 2021-2022 academic year due to Covid-19. (ht Marginal Revolution) UPDATE: the link has been taken down. Thank you to a commenter for pointing this out. I do not know if this means the suspension has been lifted, or if there was never a suspension in the first place (e.g., maybe somebody at Brown prematurely announced a policy option that was under discussion but hadn’t actually been decided upon?)
This looks interesting. Here’s the abstract:
This paper identifies the degree to which scientists are willing to change the direction of their work in exchange for resources. Data from the National Institutes of Health are used to estimate how scientists respond to targeted funding opportunities. Inducing a scientist to change their direction by a small amount—to work on marginally different topics—requires a substantial amount of funding in expectation. The switching costs of science are large. The productivity of grants is also estimated, and it appears the additional costs of targeted research may be more than offset by more productive scientists pursuing these grants.
I haven’t read it yet, just passing it along in case you want to check it out.
Sticking with the topic of why scientists operate as they do, here’s a long New Yorker piece on philosopher of science Michael Strevens’ new book The Knowledge Machine. Sounds very interesting. One question I have after reading the linked article: sounds like the book mostly draws on the same small set of famous cases that philosophers of science have long mulled over. Continental drift. Eddington’s solar eclipse observations. Spontaneous generation. Etc. Are philosophers of science misled about whether/how/why science works by focusing on those famous cases? We asked in an old post how many model systems ecology needs. Analogously, how many focal case studies does philosophy of science need?
Athene Donald speculates on why women applicants tend to apply for, and receive, smaller UKRI grants than do men. I was most struck by this passage:
As a final remark, I’d like to highlight one of the steps the EPSRC are apparently congratulating themselves on, namely that they have increased the number of women on panels and as panel chairs. It sounds good but having 30% of women on panels plus 31% acting as panel chairs when they are only at 17% in the pool of researchers, means women are expected to give up – on average – twice as much time as men to this community service. There is no doubt that sitting on panels is wonderful experience (although I sometimes used to think I learned more about what a bad grant looked like, rather than a good one, which only used to throw me into paralysis when writing my own).
It is great that more women are being given the opportunity to see how the system works. But, simultaneously, they are also being asked to give up time to this service when they could have been writing their own grants. If the evidence supported the view that having more women on panels led to fairer decisions the case would be stronger. But all the evidence I saw during my time at the ERC** showed, across the board of all disciplines, a larger proportion of women on a panel tended to lead to women being more disadvantaged rather than less. I fear that sticking more women on panels may smack more of doing something that looks like a quick fix rather than resolving the issues the current data is showing up.
Varieties of black political philosophy. Useful introductory-level roadmap to lines of thought that underpin much political discussion, online and off.
kids English public health agency, there’s an upper limit to the number of rows in an Excel file. 😦 (ht @kjhealy)
Assume a spherical
cow bear. 🙂