Monthly Archives: June 2015

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.