My awesome new postdoc

cover_smThis is just a quick post to announce that I have started a new postdoc with Sarah Mathew in the ABC&S group at ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

I will be further developing our evolutionary theory of large-scale warfare as well as fieldwork with Turkana warriors in northwest Kenya. There is a ton of new and exciting work at ASU on human evolution and behavior and I am very excited to join the team!


A month or so of links…

Title IX- A STEP BY STEP GUIDE at Tenure She Wrote. I think this a must read for any current or future academic.

The aching desire for regular scientific breakthroughs by Andrew Gelman.  A very excellent post.

The Mission Bay Manifesto on Science Publishing by  Michael Eisen in It is NOT Junk.

Gender Inequity at the University of Tennessee. A dramatic poster recently presented by NIMBioS director emeritus Lou Gross at UT’s diversity summit.

Sperm whales’ language reveals hints of culture by Jane J. Lee in National Geographic.

Hey—guess what? There really is a hot hand! by Andrew Gelmen.  Oh snap! The old way of detecting hot hands was biased!

Remember your old graphing calculator? It still costs a fortune — Here’s why by Jack Smith IV.

World’s first all-female patrol protecting South Africa’s rhinos by Jeffrey Barbee in the Guardian.

The best defense is a good bee-fence by Caleb O’Brien & Sammi Dowdel in  Mongabay WildTech. This seems made-up, but if it is real it is pretty awesome if it works.

Here’s what actually gets terrorists to tell the truth — and it’s not torture by Peter Aldhous.

Good science communication means never calling them “retard” – even if you’re Nassim Taleb.  Taleb gave one of the most terrible, disrespectful, openly and unnecessarily hostile academic talks I have ever witnessed. His arguments may or may not have been sound, but he utterly failed to communicate them – and his behavior made much of his audience disinclined to trust whatever he had to say.

Fun (in that internet sort of way)

You draw it: How family income predicts children’s college chances by Gregor Aisch, Amanda Cox and Kevin Quealy at TheUpshot.

Tearful anthropologists discover dead ancestor of humans 100,000 years too late at The Onion.

More links than you might care to shake a stick at…

A New Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution. I am now a “founding  member” of this new society.  You might want to be one too!

John Gray: Steven Pinker is Wrong about Violence and War in the Guardian.

The Big Kill by John Arquilla in Foreign Policy takes a similar view.

Army’s Anthropology Experiment Ends in Defeat by Tobin Harshaw. The Army is ending its “Human Terrain System” program which aimed to recruit anthropologists and other social scientists to help soldiers better understand Afghan culture.  It had mixed results and a lot of push-back from anthropologists who, as a profession were not too keen on the idea.

The Science of Ending Conflict by David Berreby in Psychology Today.

9 Women Who Changed Anthropology by Caroline Ervin in stuff mom never told you.

The Little Boy Who Should’ve Vanished, but Didn’t by Robert Krulwich about a 12 year-old slave who “solved a botanical mystery that had stumped the greatest botanists of his day.”

How silence can breed prejudice: A child development professor explains how and why to talk to kids about race by Brigitte Vittrup in the Washington Post.

Next time someone says women aren’t victims of harassment, show them this at RobotHugs.

Fuck Nuance by Kieran Healy. This is about theory in sociology but seems (based on my social media) to have struck a chord with math theorists across the disciplines (e.g., biology, political science, anthropology). I sometimes find myself the only one in the room suggesting a researcher remove complexity from their model (almost everyone else wants them to add more).  Worth a read.  Maybe a good paper for a intro modeling class with students who can handle the F-word.

A theoretical lens for the reproducibility project by Paul Smaldino.  This is about a neat and important model he recently published with Richard McElreath about the role of reproducability in science.

To understand the replication crisis, imagine a world in which everything was published.  A related post by Andrew Gelman.

The most common way to fish for statistical significance in ecology by Jeremy Fox at Dynamic Ecology.

Exploring genetic causation in biology by John McLaughlin in Scientia Salon.

Why Science Is Not Necessarily Self-Correcting by John Ioannidis in Perspectives on Psychological Science (gated?)

Decoding the Remarkable Algorithms of Ants an interview with Deborah Gordon by Emily Singer at Quanta. I have read both of Deborah Gordon’s books about ant biology and both are very good.

The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South by Bill Finch  in the Smithsonian. My wife was just telling me about this very issue about a week ago. The perceived invasiveness of Kudzu is exaggerated because it grows best in places that are most visible to humans so we have a very biased sample.

Neuroscience: The hard science of oxytocin by Helen Shen in Nature. (gated)

First Peoples: It’s Complicated. Razib Kahn reviews the PBS documentary.

What Use Is Population Genetics? by Brian Charlesworth in Genetics.

One explanation to rule them all? Clark Barrett reviews Speaking Our Minds by Thom Scott-Phillips.

The Social Rules Project.  I haven’t explored this fully, but it looks like a neat idea.

Fun (in that internet sort of way):

A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem Solving by David Leonhardt in the NYT.

If the Moon Were One Pixel

Tiny Data, Approximate Bayesian Computation and the Socks of Karl Broman at Rasmus Bååth’s Research Blog

The Red Queen’s Race: An Experimental Card Game to Teach Coevolution by Amanda  Gibson, Devin Drown and Curtis Lively  in Evolution: Education and Outreach.  I use playing cards a lot when teaching game theory.  This is an interesting way to teach host-parasite coevolution.

A piping hot batch of links – 20150619

The unseen women scientists behind Tim Hunt’s Nobel prize by Helen Cahill.

What is code? by Paul Ford.

The truth about our norm core by Tim Harford at the Undercover Economist. Three of the most famous experiments in social psychology actually showed much less conformity than is commonly reported.  h/t Jason Collins

The real lesson of the Stanford prison experiment by Maria Konnikova in the New Yorker.  A closer look at common misunderstandings about the Stanford Prison Experiment.

The five roads to generality in ecology by Jeremy Fox at Dynamic Ecology.

Baboon-trackers herald new age of animal behaviour research by Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

The distributed brainpower of social insects also by Ed Yong.

Fun (in that internet sort of way):

Biologist parents comic by Adam Gaylord.

The pharaohs of Silicon Valley: My journey through Google headquarters by Wyatt Dixon at Clickhole.

The famously difficult green-eyed logic puzzle. A video by Alex Gendler.

The Naked Mole Rat! A video by Emily Graslie

Why is there so much hate for the word “moist” by Jim Davies at Nautilus.


A more recent batch of links – 20150603

Heritability: a handy guide to what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and that giant meta-analysis of twin studies by Jonathan M. Kaplan in Scientia Salon.  This is very important information for anyone interested in how to interpret heritability studies.

If we are all cultural Darwinians what’s the fuss about? by  Alberto Acerbi.

Admixture, cultural and biological by Razib Khan.

Watching and wondering: what we can learn from Fredrik Barth by Ståle Wig at Savage Minds.

Dr. Mary-Claire King at the World Science Festival via The Moth. Where she “battles through a series of heartbreaking and unbelievable events to secure the grant that enables her discovery of the inherited breast cancer gene.”

The when and who of social learning and conformist transmission by Michael Muthukrishnaa,  Thomas J.H. Morgan, Joseph Henrich  in Evolution and Human Behavior. [ungated preprint]

Four political camps in the big data world by Cathy O’Neil at mathbabe.

John Bohannon’s chocolate-and-weight-loss hoax study actually understates the problems with standard p-value scientific practice by Andrew Gelman.

Was it right to fool millions of people into thinking chocolate helps you lose weight? Simon Oxenham at Neurobonkers discusses the ethics.

Why Pret A Manger gives away so much free food to customers by Roberto A. Ferdman in the Washington Post.  Will this sort of less formal institution catch on?

Will computers redefine the roots of math? by Kevin Hartnett in Quanta Magazine.

On academia:

How to respond to reviewers by Andrew Hendry at the Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics blog.

Writing a response to reviewer comments by  Meghan Duffy at the Dynamic Ecology blog.

Fun (in that internet sort of way):

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Standardized Testing.  Good stuff (though his quips about the use of statistical methods developed for breeding cattle struck me as about as scientifically illiterate as Sarah Palin’s denouncing biological research on fruit flies.)

A new batch of links from some weeks ago – 20150328

I started putting these together at the end of March and never posted them:

Ten simple rules to achieve conference speaker gender balance – Jennifer L. Martin in PLOS Computational Biology.

The trouble with Evolutionary Psychology: A progress report – A number of short pieces on evolutionary psychology and Evolutionary Psychology introduced here by D.S. Wison at the Evolution Institute’s Social Evolution Forum. I highly recommend Clark Barrett’s The Shape of Thought: How Mental Adaptations Evolve for separating baby from bathwater.

Genetic testing and tribal identity – Rose Eveleth at the Atlantic explains Native American concerns about genetic testing. This is interesting to think about in terms of identity conditioned on genetic vs cultural inheritance.

Rogers’ paradox: Why cheap social learning doesn’t raise mean fitness – Marcel Montrey at Theory, Evolution and Games blog summarizes one of the foundational models of gene-culture coevolution.

Hypothesis testing: Fishing for trouble – tobias at R-bloggers.

Too good to be true – Scott Alexander on the state of psychological research at Slate Star Codex.

Surely our first response to the disproof of a shocking-but-surprising claim should be to be un-shocked and un-surprised, not to try to explain away the refutation – Andrew Gelman

Consequences of spatial expansions on population functional diversity – A video of a great talk by Laurent Excoffier at NIMBioS on “gene surfing” explaining why deleterious alleles (bad genes) tend to accumulate in rapidly expanding populations.

Himba color perception – Mark Liberman at the Language Log.  The video about Himba color perception being strongly influenced by language, sadly, overstated/fabricated. I’ve heard that the video is shown in a lot of undergraduate courses.

Believe it or not, “learning styles” don’t exist – Simon Oxenham at Neurobonkers.  Also at the NYT blog.

Looking for the roots of terrorism – a [gated] news article by Sara Reardon in Science about recent work by anthropologist Scott Atran.

Language (culture) and genes evolve differently – Razib Khan at the Gene Expression Blog.

Three posts by Charles Goodnight on Andy Gardner’s take on multilevel selection.  These are worth reading.  I will post any reaction from Gardner. Gardner’s theory of multilevel selection: Where he goes wrong and why; Parsing the Model; The Discussion.

I Changed My Mind… distinguished political scientist Stephen M. Walt in the Foreign Policy Journal on opinions he used to hold, but no longer holds. Important to me is:

No. 6: The Role of Culture... I used to have a certain contempt for cultural explanations of political phenomena. Whenever somebody invoked “culture” to explain some aspect of political behavior, I thought it was a lazy catchall category one could invoke to account for something one didn’t really understand. I now regard my youthful dismissal of culture as mostly just plain dumb, and I have become more sympathetic to explanations that employ well-specified definitions of culture.

Relatedness, conflict, and the evolution of eusociality – Xiaoyun Liao, Stephen Rong, and David Queller in PLOS Biology. The newest twist in the fallout from the kin selection “debate.” I think every lab whose email list I lurk on simultaneously scheduled a lab meeting to discuss this one.

Inclusive Fitness Theorizing Invokes Phenomena That Are Not Relevant for the Evolution of Eusociality. Martin A. Nowak and Benjamin Allen comment.

Some Agreement on Kin Selection and Eusociality?   Queller, Rong,  and Liao respond.

Entertaining, in that internet sort-of-way:

Calculating Pi with darts – A video by Physics Girl that was mostly interesting to me as an allegory for our difficult in generating and recognizing truly random patterns. When I taught introductory biology lab, it was very easy to spot the lab groups that actually used the random number table to pick sampling sites and those who tried to faked it. (Except for that one group who used the random number table to randomly pick the group member who would non-randomly pick the next sampling location.)

Weekend diversion: The math of Powerball – Ethan Siegel at Starts with a Bang goes, exhaustively, through the odds of winning Powerball.

The American presidents—Johnson to McKinley – Tim Urban at Wait But Why writes a surprisingly entertaining piece about our most boring string of presidents.

Why do Luna moths have such absurdly long tails? – Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science. No spoiler alerts here.

How Big Are The Biggest Squid, Whales, Sharks, Jellyfish? – Ed Yong, again.

The wedding industry’s pricey little secret – A short article by Will Oremus in Slate giving an example of how it is often better to use the median than a mean. I still remember my dad teaching me this when I was a small person

Bearded Wonders of the animal world.

A fortmonth of links – 20150122

Try not to think too hard about what a “fortmonth” is.

Psychology, anthropology, and a science of human being by Scott Atran in the Social Evolution Forum.

Culture: A scientific idea “ready for retirement”?  by  Alberto Acerbi in LSE’s Culture and Cognition blog.

Two thought-provoking posts on race and racism and anthropology at the Savage Minds blog:

Nothing like #Ferguson to reveal those closeted racists (in anthropology) by Dick Powis

Racism is real, and colorblindness is racism: Truths from a Black Feminist anthropologist by Carole McGranahan.

Scientists instil new cultural traditions in wild tits by Ed Yong.

What book changed your mind: How culture evolves. Behavioral economist Colin Camerer in the Journal of Higher Education.

Mating market theory: the math of one-night stands and long-term relationships by Ryan Schacht and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder on their recent research.

How common myths about the human brain can be dangerous at Neurobonkers.

One does not need to be a scientist to develop good public policy by Mark McPeak.

My Vassar College faculty ID makes everything OK by Kiese Laymon.

Scientists are not that smart by Chad Orzel.

Two reactions to a recent paper about economists in academia:

Economists aren’t ‘superior’ just because by Henry Farrell.

Notes on the floating crap game (economics inside baseball) by Paul Krugman.

Entertaining (in that internet sort-of way):

Africa, uncolonized: A detailed look at an alternate continent a map by Nikolaj Cyon shows what a map of Africa may have looked like without European colonization.

How Americans die.  An awesome interactive infographic at Bloomberg.

Genetic algorithm walkers. Like QWOP, except played by evolution.

Inside a hamster’s cheeks. (I recommend this with the sound off)

Great Adaptations – A children’s book about evolution. An awesome book that was funded through Kickstarter featuring many of my favorite evolutionary biologists.

It’s 2015, and You’re in the Future by Tim Urban at Wait But Why.

A fortnight of links – 20141110

Why aren’t women advancing at work? Ask a transgender person – Jessica Nordell at the New Republic.

Males exist.  Does it matter? – Hanna Kokko giving a talk at NIMBioS tomorrow (11 November), that you can stream it here at 3:30 EST.

Does reciprocity explain human cooperation? – Robert Boyd giving a talk at NIMBioS next week (18 November), that you can stream it here at 3:30 EST.

Brilliant impersonators – Kat McGowan in Aeon on why imitation makes us human.

Big Data needs Thick Data – Tricia Wang at Ethnography Matters. A potentially useful way of framing the need for context.

Darwin was wrong about a lot of things – Mark McPeek at Enallgma. That Darwin was wrong about some things concerning evolution is not some black mark against the science of evolution itself.

As species decline, so does research funding – Terrie M. Williams in the LA Times. The author’s work was listed in Tom Coburn’s Top 5 most wasteful scientific projects funded by the government. She discusses the importance of her work beyond the talking point.

Off the Market – by Jordon Weissmann in Slate.  The problem of over-fitting in models of stock market behavior.

CoreEcon – “Teaching economics as if the last three decades have happened.” A new approach to teaching undergraduate economics.  It looks pretty neat!