Posts Tagged ‘science’

During World War II, natives on Pacific islands saw something most unusual. Strange men appeared, cleared long strips of land and built structures decorated with flags. Some of these men wore large cups over their ears, while others waved sticks and, almost magically, machines appeared from the sky carrying valuable cargo.

After the war ended, the men left and the supplies stopped coming. Some of the natives formed cargo cults which copied many of the the rituals the soldiers performed. They marched in formation, wore cups over their ears and waved sticks around. Alas, no airplanes ever came.

Clearly, the idea was patently absurd. Anybody who thinks that waving sticks will cause airplanes to appear is missing some basic principles about how air travel works. Yet many modern executives also believe by mimicking the tactics of others they will somehow achieve the same results. These “cargo cult strategists” don’t do much better than the islanders.


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“Few books risk such damage to the public understanding of science as those by Oliver James. Inexplicably popular despite their scientific illiteracy and mediocre writing, they are promoted widely by James’s regular, shriekingly aggressive media appearances. A glance at the studies shows the absurdity of the extreme blank-slate position advanced in Not In Your Genes: environments clearly matter, but so does DNA, and the perversity of denying this becomes ever more acute with each new genetic discovery. Truly understanding human psychology and helping those with psychiatric illnesses requires us to have a realistic view of the causes of differences between people. That realistic view is Not In This Book.”  (excerpt)

Source: On genetics Oliver James is on a different planet to the rest of us | Spectator Health

“I’ve been getting lots of tweets and email from folks linking to a slick-looking video, a computer animation showing the motion of the planets around the Sun as the Sun orbits around the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s a very pretty video with compelling music and well-done graphics.

“It’s wrong. And not just superficially; it’s deeply wrong, based on a very wrong premise. While there are some useful visualizations in it, I caution people to take it with a galaxy-sized grain of salt.”

I recognize that this could politicized, and that’s not my intention for sharing this. Educators, after all, work best when they approach educating with an open mind (or open mindset) and flexibility. This is a reason education is both an art and a science. On the other hand, we should be careful about being “early adopters”. We should explore new ideas and tools, but we should approach these explorations with awareness and with special attention to measuring (somewhat objectively) what we hope to achieve against what was actually achieved (somewhat objectively).


The Neurocritic: Against Initiatives: “don’t be taken in by the boondoggle”.


Here’s Professor Leah Krubitzer, who heads theLaboratory of Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Davis:

“From a personal rather than scientific standpoint, the final important thing I’ve learned is don’t be taken in by the boondoggle, don’t get caught up in technology, and be very suspicious of “initiatives.” Science should be driven by questions that are generated by inquiry and in-depth analysis rather than top-down initiatives that dictate scientific directions. I have also learned to be suspicious of labels declaring this the “decade of” anything: The brain, The mind, Consciousness. There should be no time limit on discovery. Does anyone really believe we will solve these complex, nonlinear phenomena in ten years or even one hundred? Tightly bound temporal mandates can undermine the important, incremental, and seemingly small discoveries scientists make every day doing critical, basic, nonmandated research. These basic scientific discoveries have always been the foundation for clinical translation. By all means funding big questions and developing innovative techniques is worthwhile, but scientists and the science should dictate the process.”


Insight treasure trove in one paragraph here…Mind blown!

This is a powerful insight in the article and it needs to be shared:

“So, in offensively broad terms, I’d say the scientist is fairly obsessive about precision, and wants to at least identify – if not absolutely control – all variables.  They strive to be comprehensive and worry about what they’ve left out.  I think some of them live in mortal fear of being seen as superficial, especially among their colleagues, so more information is almost always a better thing.  Their vocabulary is off-putting to the uninitiated, but it can be super-precise, just the way they like it.  And after many years, I started to recognize this huge difference in cognitive style between scientists and the rest of us: they are really comfortable spreading out and labeling all of the pieces of the puzzle before they get down to figuring out what it might represent.  Most folks like to study the box to know what the picture is first!”

via The Art of Communicating Science | Psychology Today.

This is yet another article exploring the needs for the social sciences to improve peer review and replication.

“A lot of people have made much of the difference between the natural sciences and the social sciences,” Makel said. “I do not associate science with a content area. I associate science with a process. I believe that a great many researchers in the education field would view themselves as doing science.”An understanding of education research as a science is fairly new, said Plucker, his co-author.

via Almost no education research is replicated, new article shows @insidehighered.


It’s amazing how political education research can be. Is it simply an orientation problem where education researchers don’t view their research as scientific? why else wouldn’t a researcher honor requests so that studies can be replicated? “Replication can lead to bruised feelings, however. The failure of a group of researchers to replicate a study by Simone Schnall, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, led to dueling blog posts. Brent Donnellan, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, wrote that he and his team, in attempting to replicate Schnall’s study, “encountered an epic fail.” Schnall shot back with a blog postof her own, writing that the stream of requests for her data made her feel “like a criminal suspect who has no right to a defense.” Commenting on her post, Daniel Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard, wrote: “Simone Schnall is Rosa Parks — a powerless woman who has decided to risk everything to call out the bullies … The replication police need to apologize.”

Plucker said that “there’s always going to be hurt feelings.” Researchers just need to handle replication requests professionally and fairly. And if replication were more common, a request for data would not feel like an attack, Makel added.



Transformational teachers create experiences in their classrooms, melding the art and science of any subject and making their students care about learning.


See on Scoop.iteducational implications

In 2011, Emmanuel Nnaemeka Nnadi needed help to sequence some drug-resistant fungal pathogens. A PhD student studying microbiology in Nigeria, he did not have the expertise and equipment he needed. So he turned to ResearchGate, a free social-networking site for academics, and fired off a few e-mails. When he got a reply from Italian geneticist Orazio Romeo, an inter­national collaboration was born. Over the past three years, the two scientists have worked together on fungal infections in Africa, with Nnadi, now at Plateau State University in Bokkos, shipping his samples to Romeo at the University of Messina for analysis. “It has been a fruitful relationship,” says Nnadi — and they have never even met.


See on Scoop.itScience, Technology, and Current Futurism

More than a century after their discovery, we still don’t really know what blood types are for. Do they really matter?


See on Scoop.itScience, Technology, and Current Futurism

“What I thought quite unique was the idea that astrocytes, traditionally considered only guardians and supporters of neurons and other cells, are also involved in the processing of information and in other cognitive behavior,” says Verma, a professor in the Laboratory of Genetics and American Cancer Society Professor.


excerpt: “It’s not that astrocytes are quick—they’re still slower than neurons. But the new evidence suggests that astrocytes are actively supplying the right environment for gamma waves to occur, which in turn makes the brain more likely to learn and change the strength of its neuronal connections.”

See on Scoop.itScience, Technology, and Current Futurism