Also this week: Kim Stanley Robinson vs. climate change, the latest data on representation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in US science and engineering, and more.
Another accusation of serious scientific fraud in ecology, this one against University of Delaware professor Danielle Dixson. Some of the accusations relate to work dating from Dixson’s time as a PhD student in the lab of Philip Munday. Other researchers had previously been unable to replicate Dixson & Munday’s high-profile results on the effects of ocean acidification on fish behavior. On its own, a replication failure in ecology wouldn’t raise concerns about possible fraud. But now it’s been revealed that there are anomalous chunks of duplicated data in two of Dixson’s papers, which were confirmed as anomalous by independent investigators commissioned by Science (as an aside: that’s a good bit of investigative reporting by Science). And several past members of Dixson’s lab have come forward with accusations of fraud, based on their observations and experiences in Dixson’s lab. Part of the broader context here is that another past PhD student of Munday’s, Oona Lönnstedt, turned out to be a fraudster who has had multiple high-profile papers retracted (see also). Speaking as an interested but impartial bystander to all this, who has extensive experience investigating accusations of scientific fraud in ecology, but who only knows what’s in the linked Science article, it sure seems to me like there is sufficient cause for an investigation here. It sounds like there is a formal investigation underway, though it’s not clear from the Science article who is investigating. That formal investigation needs to be thorough and fair, obviously. UPDATE: see this report and associated blog post by one of the investigators commissioned by Science, Nick Brown. I just read it, and…hoo boy. Those are indeed very serious anomalies. I hope there’s an explanation. /end update
Here is NSF’s 2021 report on women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Lots of important data here.
Retraction Watch covers various issues relating to ecologist Denon Start. Nothing new here for those who have been following those issues.
Good in depth popsci piece from The Scientist on whether single celled organisms can learn.
You might think of people who ignore Covid-19 public health measures, don’t want to get vaccinated, etc. as refusing to “follow the science”. But what about people who demand greater public health precautions than public health officials recommend? Are they also failing to “follow the science”? What does it mean to “follow the science”?
Crooked Timber is running a series of blog posts from various authors, discussing Kim Stanley Robinson’s new climate change novel, The Ministry For The Future. I haven’t read it, but I pass this on in case it’s of interest to you. Crooked Timber book discussion seminars are always good.
So, the Alberta government finally published its higher education strategy. Alex Usher comments on what Alberta got for the $3.5M it paid to McKinsey. There’s a 217 slide PowerPoint deck, apparently. The governance proposals actually sound good, to my surprise; they move away from provincial micromanagement. As for the 30+ extremely specific “flagship” projects that are supposedly going to happen in the next 18 months: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAno. Here at UCalgary, we’ve cut a ton of administrative and support staff over the last couple of years, the faculty are exhausted from a year of online classes, we’re trying to figure out if/how to return to in-person classes in the fall, we’re doing all this while working from home, and you think we’ve got enough bandwidth to implement a bunch of additional reforms and new initiatives? /end vent
And finally, this mashup of Every Breath You Take and (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles works surprisingly well. (Well, surprising to me; maybe to the more musical among you it’s obvious that those two songs would make for a good mashup.) The mashup turns EBYT into an affectionate love song. I like covers that put a new spin on the original. 🙂