I want to bring up a discussion about what I perceive is a dangerous trend in neuroscience (this may be applicable to other areas of science as well), and that is what I will term “scientific collectivism.” I am going to split this into two separate posts because it is so long. This first post is the weaker arguments, and what I see are the less interesting aspects of scientific collectivism-however, they deserve a discussion.
What will you be? and the related Friday Poll: Tinker, Tailor, Biologist, Researcher. So, how do you call yourself when you are introduced to a stranger?
A little muddled (especially in not making sufficient distinction between peer-reviewed Journals and pop-science magazines), but an interesting look from the outisde in: The High Cost Of Science:
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are interested in science and you want to learn more about it. Maybe you’re tired of creation vs evolution debates and you want to do the research yourself, or maybe you just want to become a more informed citizen. Whatever your reasons, you have a few options but none of them are all that appealing.
Intellectual property, copyright, creative commons, copyleft, open access… These are all terms high on the science and other agenda these days. For example, public-funded scientists the world over are calling for research results to be available free to them and their peers for the public good and for the good of scientific advancement itself. Librarians likewise are also interested in the fullest dissemination and sharing of knowledge and information, while user-creators and the new breed of citizen journalists that are the result of the Internet Age are also more liberal in their outlook regarding the proprietary nature of creative works.
What has been found over the last few years is that these neutral mutations occur in networks. That means that there are little fleets of genotypes, all of the same “fitness”, that have overlapping series of neutral mutations. Most of these fleets are small, but a few are larger, and its the larger fleets of genotypes that the researchers in this study focused on. The large networks tend to be adjacent to a pretty large number of phenotypes. So you have all these little neutral mutations, next to RNA with a wide variety of phenotypes. Do these little neutral mutations influence evolution after all?
We’ve had a terrible year. Obvious problems remain, along with whatever else lurks beneath the waterline. Wall Street showed some optimism about the future yesterday, but we’ve still got a long way to go. A lot of this boils down to arithmetic. Pay more attention to the numbers and less to ideologues on teevee or the web who try to tell you different.
Print-on-demand publisher Lulu (which offers an OA option for content providers) and document sharing site Scribd are partnering, according to ReadWriteWeb. Lulu will begin making some of their OA content available in Scribd’s iPaper format (a “sort of a YouTube for PDFs”), including utilizing iPaper’s ability to embed AdSense ads within the documents.
The underlying assumption, of course, is that issues matter, that voters are fundamentally rational agents who vote for candidates based on a coherent set of principles. In other words, they assume that my political preferences reflect some mixture of ideology and selfish calculation. I’ll vote for the guy who best matches my geopolitics and tax bracket.
The problem, as political scientist Larry Bartels notes, is that people aren’t rational: we’re rationalizers. Our brain prefers a certain candidate or party for a really complicated set of subterranean reasons and then, after the preference has been unconsciously established, we invent rational sounding reasons to justify our preferences. This is why the average voter is such a partisan hack and rarely bothers to revise their political preferences.
I Like My Facts Well Done and Humorless. The funny take on Sizzle.
PhysioProf rants and raves on Feministe for a couple of weeks or so. Check the tribal wars in the comments!
A pierced scientist? AKA, I need a mentor:
It occured to me yesterday that I have a lot of questions to ask and nobody to go to for answers. I really need a mentor of some kind. I mean, I have an academic advisor, but he’s an old white man who doesn’t make any attempt to engage me in conversation. He’s very standoffish and business-oriented whenever I meet with him, which I think has been once a year for the last three years. I doubt he knows my name. And I have Dr. Calhoun, my research advisor, who I’m starting to warm up to a little bit but I’m not really at the point where I can ask him the kinds of personal questions that are the most burning. I doubt I’ll ever be able to not be intimidated by him, especially since I found out he’s the chair of the graduate admissions committee.