• Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Is it game over for a cartoon of Trump’s face in baboon feces? A journal issues an editor’s note for “unusual aspects”

    If you’ve been anywhere near Twitter this week, you have probably seen a paper from Scientific Reports that appears to contain a likeness of a certain U.S. president in a cartoon of baboon feces. It was “one of the greatest scientific Easter eggs in a long time,” according to Jonathan Eisen of the University of … Continue reading Is it game over for a cartoon of Trump’s face in baboon feces? A journal issues an editor’s note for “unusual aspects”

    in Retraction watch on December 15, 2018 04:31 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Weekend reads: Tenured professor in Illinois fired; should journals publish CRISPR babies paper?; retracted vaccine-autism paper reappears

    Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance. The week at Retraction Watch featured a retraction for a prominent psychologist at Cornell, more … Continue reading Weekend reads: Tenured professor in Illinois fired; should journals publish CRISPR babies paper?; retracted vaccine-autism paper reappears

    in Retraction watch on December 15, 2018 03:14 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Two years after he shared a draft of a “random brain fart side-project,” an astronomer sees a version published — without his name

    In 2015, Peter Yoachim became interested in how long astronomers remained active astronomers or, more to the point, how long they continued publishing in astronomy. Yoachim, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle, dug into some data, “did a burst of work in late 2015/early 2016, then fizzled out by 2017 when I … Continue reading Two years after he shared a draft of a “random brain fart side-project,” an astronomer sees a version published — without his name

    in Retraction watch on December 15, 2018 01:41 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    New research may upend what we know about how tornadoes form

    New data on the birth of tornadoes suggest that the twisters don’t form from the top down.

    in Science News on December 14, 2018 07:06 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Endangered northern bettongs aren’t picky truffle eaters

    Without the northern bettong, the variety of Australia’s truffle-producing fungi could take a hit, a new study finds.

    in Science News on December 14, 2018 06:21 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Political scientist asks for correction, gets flip-flop

    You’d think that if an author asked a journal to correct a modest mistake, the journal would oblige. After all, many researchers have to be dragged kicking and screaming to correct the record. But for Ryan Enos, a political scientist at Harvard, self-correction of a paper he had published in the Proceedings of the National … Continue reading Political scientist asks for correction, gets flip-flop

    in Retraction watch on December 14, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Counting the breaths of wild porpoises reveals their revved-up metabolism

    A new method tracks harbor porpoises’ breathing to collect rare information on the energy needs of the marine mammals.

    in Science News on December 14, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Counting the breaths of wild porpoises reveal their revved-up metabolism

    A new method tracks harbor porpoises’ breathing to collect rare information on the energy needs of the marine mammals.

    in Science News on December 14, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The everyday experiences that make us feel loved

    GettyImages-618427870.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    Psychologists, philosophers and poets have devoted many years reflecting on the meaning of love for another. A less-explored question – the focus of a study to appear in the January 2019 issue of Journal of Social and Personal Relationships – is what makes us feel loved by others?

    More specifically, the study investigated whether there is widespread agreement about the everyday experiences, romantic and non-romantic, that lead us (or US citizens, at least) to feel loved. Some of the results are obvious – many participants agreed that making love, being hugged, receiving compliments and gifts, make us feel loved. But there was even stronger agreement that mundane yet touching gestures make us feel loved, such as our pets being happy to see us, a child snuggling up to us, or someone showing us compassion.

    Employing an approach known as “cultural consensus theory”, Saeideh Heshmati at Penn State University and her colleagues presented nearly 500 online participants (men and women aged 18 to 93 selected to be representative of the US population as a whole) with 60 everyday scenarios, and for each one asked them to indicate whether it was true or false that most people would feel loved in that situation (or to pass if they didn’t know).

    Other scenarios for which there was particularly strong agreement that the situation would provoke felt love included being cared for when sick; being told “I love you”; spending time with one’s children; being made to feel special; and spending quality time with someone.

    There was far less agreement around whether situations that do not involve other people prompt feelings of being loved or not, such as the sun shining or eating one’s favourite food.

    In terms of the everyday situations that do not provoke feelings of being loved, there was striking agreement that this is the case for any behaviours by others that imply they are being overly controlling or possessive, such as wanting to know where you are at all times, or wanting to spend all their time with you. The researchers speculated this might be a reflection of the individualistic culture in America with its celebration of personal liberty, and that findings in other cultures may differ.

    Another angle on their results the researchers looked at was whether there are particular groups who are more at odds with the consensus on felt love than others. They found that men seemed less attuned to the consensus than women. Perhaps, they suggested, this is a reflection of men’s greater focus on passionate, sexual love (as revealed by earlier research) and the fact women may have found it easier to reflect on the everyday, nonsexual love explored in the current study. Also, people currently in a romantic relationship showed more awareness of the consensus on felt love (perhaps because they experience the emotion more often, the researchers surmised), as did white people (perhaps because, being the ethnic majority, their beliefs formed more of the consensus).

    In terms of personality, participants higher in trait agreeableness were more in tune with the collective views on felt love, which seems intuitive, but so too were participants higher in neuroticism (i.e. with low emotional stability, who are known to go through more relationship difficulties on average), which is harder to explain. This last finding may reflect that “individuals high in neuroticism still experience love, they simply do not have lasting love experiences…,” the researchers said.

    The main take-away from the research, Heshmati and her team added, is that “people feel loved in a range of settings much wider than just romantic relationships ..”, and “although knowledge of love can differ between people, there is a consensus within the US culture about which scenarios elicit love in most people.”

    An important caveat to remember when interpreting these results is that participants  were sharing their beliefs about the times they believed “most people” feel loved – they weren’t actually reporting their own experiences (though they may have extrapolated from their own experiences to make inferences about people in general). It would be intriguing to see how the results might differ if participants were simply asked to report their own experiences. For now this fascinating research lays the groundwork for future investigations to explore felt love in other cultures and to see how it interacts with other psychological traits not measured here, such as attachment style.

    This is our final post of 2018. With our blog receiving over 5.5 million page views this year to date (compared with 3.2 million last year), you’ve certainly made us feel loved at BPS Research Digest. Thank you to our talented staff writers, guest writers and to you our readers for visiting, and sharing and commenting on our stories. We’ll be back in the New Year with more fascinating psychology for you to feast on. Happy Festive Holidays!

    What does it mean to feel loved: Cultural consensus and individual differences in felt love

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 14, 2018 09:49 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Big data reveals hints of how, when and where mental disorders start

    The first wave of data from the PsychENCODE project holds new clues to how and when psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia emerge.

    in Science News on December 13, 2018 07:49 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Corn domestication took some unexpected twists and turns

    A DNA study challenges the idea people fully tamed maize in Mexico before the plant spread.

    in Science News on December 13, 2018 07:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Here’s a rare way that an Alzheimer’s protein can spread

    Amyloid-beta found in vials of growth hormone can move from brain to brain, a mouse study shows.

    in Science News on December 13, 2018 04:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Dutch universities and Elsevier agree on 6-month extension to current license agreement

    The extension allows for the continuation of discussions

    in Elsevier Connect on December 13, 2018 03:39 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    50 years ago, armadillos hinted that DNA wasn’t destiny

    Nine-banded armadillos have identical quadruplets. But the youngsters aren’t identical enough, and scientists 50 years ago could not figure out why.

    in Science News on December 13, 2018 12:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Lessons learned and best practices from the Polio Eradication Programme in Nigeria

    The Polio Eradication Programme in Nigeria is making positive strides towards interruption of wild poliovirus (WPV). The past two decades were marked with surges in WPV cases that saw Nigeria accounting for almost half of the global burden of WPV in 2005. During 2003-2013, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) faced a serious challenge with resurgence of polio virus originating from Nigeria in twenty-six previously polio-free countries in sub Saharan Africa and beyond.

    WPV cases increased from 202 in 2002 to a peak of 1,122 in 2006 following suspension of immunization campaigns in northern Nigeria due to unfounded rumors of oral polio vaccine (OPV) safety. Through an aggressive effort, the suspension was lifted and the campaigns reinstated.

    Another surge in WPV cases was recorded in 2012 with 122 cases, up from 63 cases in 2011. In 2012, the Nigerian government launched the national polio eradication emergency plan (NPEEP) to intensify efforts to interrupt WPV transmission. A progressive decline in WPV1 cases was thereafter achieved from 122 in 2012 to 0 in 2015.

    The strong leadership of the program by the Government of Nigeria at Federal and State level, the engagement of the traditional institutions, establishment of an Incident Management System through Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) to coordinate all efforts of government and partners at Federal level and in high risk states, and the localized innovative strategies to address the outbreak were some of the major contributing factors to the progress registered.

    The program came close to marking two years without WPV1 in 2016. After twenty-three months without detection of WPV1, four cases were detected from areas that had not been accessible to the program for over three years due to insecurity in Borno state, north eastern Nigeria. Genetic sequencing of the viruses revealed the closest known link to a virus last detected in Borno in 2011, indicating prolonged undetected circulation for over four years.

    At the time of publishing this supplement in 2018, the country has marked just over two years without WPV1.

    While the resurgence of WPV1 in 2016 paused a major setback to the country and regional progress, it provided an opportunity for the program to stretch its innovative capacity to mount a response in a complex environment. The outbreak in Borno demonstrated the necessity of ensuring accessibility, particularly for surveillance to rule out any undetected presence of the virus.

    Innovative strategies for surveillance and vaccination, and strengthening of partnerships with non-traditional actors have been instrumental to the progress registered so far in the response to the 2016 outbreak. At the time of publishing this supplement in 2018, the country has marked just over two years without WPV1. However, an estimated 70,000 under-five children remain trapped in insecure areas of Borno state, and therefore the progress is acknowledged with caution. Nigeria still remains among the three WPV endemic countries globally, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    This supplement presents some of the innovations, lessons learned and best practices that the Nigerian government and its polio partners implemented during 2014-2016 towards interruption of WPV transmission. The programmatic interventions described here include innovative strategies such as directly observed vaccination (DOPV), addressing unmet needs of non-compliant households, use of mobile hard-to-reach teams, focus on nomadic groups and engagement of security personnel to interrupt polio virus transmission in polio sanctuaries in northern Nigeria, along rivers of interest and security compromised areas respectively.

    Ensuring sensitive and quality surveillance to detect any suspect viruses is a key aspect of the NPEEP. Initiatives to intensify surveillance at field level, evaluate the quality of documentation and profile of polio compatible cases have been implemented in Nigeria. Furthermore, innovations such as Auto-Visual AFP Detection and Reporting (AVADAR), and use of mobile technology for monitoring program performance have facilitated reporting in real-time for decision making and timely action.

    In line with the strategic focus of the Global Polio End Game Strategy and Plan, the switch from tOPV to bOPV was successfully implemented in April 2016 and some lessons from the field have been documented. In addition, laboratory containment activities, in conformity with the Global Action Plan III, were implemented.

    We believe that these public health interventions, among other activities, have contributed to the progress registered for far in the polio eradication program in Nigeria and will further enable Nigeria achieve and sustain polio-free status. The ongoing effort to utilize the lessons learned and assets available to improve routine immunization, integrated disease surveillance and response, and primary health care will be maximized to ensure a smooth transition towards certification of polio eradication. It is our hope that these interventions and experiences will be of interest to public health and other stakeholders.

    Read the supplement here.

    The post Lessons learned and best practices from the Polio Eradication Programme in Nigeria appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on December 13, 2018 11:13 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Anversa cardiac stem cell lab earns 13 retractions

    Two months after Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital said they were requesting the retraction of more than 30 papers from a former cardiac stem cell lab there, two American Heart Association journals have retracted more than a dozen papers from the lab. Yesterday, Circulation retracted three papers, and Circulation Research retracted 10. All 13 were … Continue reading Anversa cardiac stem cell lab earns 13 retractions

    in Retraction watch on December 13, 2018 10:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The physiological stress response is larger in the morning than evening

    GettyImages-973701300.jpgThe real-world implications are far from clear and the result needs to be replicated with larger samples

    By Emma Young

    When’s the best time of day to give someone bad news? First thing in the morning or early evening? Yes, if it’s in the morning, they have longer to work out what to do about it, but you might be better off plumping for the evening because according to a new study, published open-access in Neuropsychopharmacology, they’re likely to suffer less of a physiological stress response at this time. 

    If a threat – whether physical or psychological – doesn’t quickly vanish, communication between a trio of brain regions – the hypothalamus, the pituitary glands and the adrenal cortex (known collectively as the HPA axis) – causes, among other things, an increase in levels of the hormone cortisol, which triggers the release of glucose, for energy, into the bloodstream. This stress response effectively provides our muscles with extra fuel to fight or flee. 

    However, there’s also a daily pattern to our baseline levels of cortisol production – healthy people typically experience a spike around waking, and a steady decrease in levels throughout the day. 

    All kinds of other factors also influence an individual’s cortisol levels at any given time, including age, sex, sleep/wake time preferences, exercise patterns and general stress levels. This raises the possibility that how we respond physically to stress might vary depending on the time of day. 

    To find out, Yujiro Yamanaka at Hokkaido University and colleagues recruited 20 male and 7 female healthy young subjects with similar typical sleep durations and average wake/sleep times (in other words, they were not “larks” or “owls”); also none of them had a history of hormonal, psychiatric or sleep problems. The participants first gave saliva samples every two hours for one day, so their typical daily cortisol levels could be assessed. 

    They were then randomised to undergo a stressful experience either two hours after they typically woke up, or ten hours afterwards. For the stress experience, the researchers used the widely-used Trier Social Stress test, which requires people to give a presentation and perform mental arithmetic in front of interviewers, while being videoed. Saliva samples were collected from all the participants before their test, immediately afterwards and then every ten minutes for half an hour. 

    The researchers found that the group that were stressed in the morning showed a statistically significant increase in their cortisol levels after the test, compared with before (a sign of a large stress response). In contrast, the cortisol increase in the evening group was smaller and did not reach statistical significance. 

    The researchers said it seems that the HPA axis “has a powerful response to acute psychological stress in the morning rather than in the evening”. Animal research suggests that this might be because the adrenal cortex typically becomes less sensitive to ACTH, the hormone produced by the pituitary gland that triggers the release of cortisol, as the day wears on. 

    What are the implications of all this? 

    Given all the factors that affect an individual’s cortisol levels and their response to stress, the real-world impact of experiencing morning vs. evening stress is far from clear. There’s another complication – the researchers explained that if stress in the evening doesn’t significantly hike cortisol levels, and so does not increase glucose availability, we might in fact be more vulnerable to any threat, because we might find it harder to mount a useful response. On the other hand, if that stressor is something we can’t immediately combat, and we’re frequently stressed, arguably it might be better to have a lower cortisol response, because chronically elevated levels of cortisol are associated with ill health. In other words, the short answer to the question of whether to share bad news in the morning or evening is: “it depends!”.

    Meanwhile, for other researchers interested in stress, these new results (while they need replicating with larger samples) also have implications: the time of day of experiments investigating stress could, it seems, affect the results in important ways. 

    Hypothalamic‐pituitary‐adrenal axis differentially responses to morning and evening psychological stress in healthy subjects

    Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 13, 2018 09:48 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe survived its first encounter with the sun and is sending data back to Earth.

    in Science News on December 12, 2018 10:49 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Hybrid rice engineered with CRISPR can clone its seeds

    New research has created self-cloning hybrid rice, raising hopes of higher food production.

    in Science News on December 12, 2018 08:52 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Babies born in opioid withdrawal have unusually small heads

    Infants born dependent on opioids had heads that were smaller than babies whose moms didn’t use the drugs during pregnancy.

    in Science News on December 12, 2018 08:25 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Indiana University paper about lung transplantation retracted after misconduct finding

    After a finding of data manipulation, the corresponding author of a 2014 paper by a team of researchers at Indiana University has retracted the work. Here’s the notice in Science Translational Medicine: Science Translational Medicine is retracting the Research Article “The HMGB1-RAGE axis mediates traumatic brain injury-induced pulmonary dysfunction in lung transplantation” by Weber et … Continue reading Indiana University paper about lung transplantation retracted after misconduct finding

    in Retraction watch on December 12, 2018 07:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A vision for the information system supporting research

    Making the research lifecycle more transparent and connected — and putting the researcher in control

    in Elsevier Connect on December 12, 2018 04:20 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The information system supporting research

    Access to expert commentary and insight – and an invitation to co-create the system of the future

    in Elsevier Connect on December 12, 2018 04:20 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    ACGT, Inc. Helped Pharma Client Save Time and Study Costs Through GLP-Validated Sequence Analysis

    About the Provider

    Since 1993, ACGT, Inc. has helped researchers meet their preclinical research goals, providing services in the fields of discovery of genetic markers of disease, marker validation, genotyping, gene expression, and assay development. The scientific team at ACGT gained experience working with numerous clients in academia, government and pharma, delivering high quality genomic analysis data, under both research and GLP protocols.

    About the Requester:

    The requester for this project was a researcher at a top 10 pharmaceutical company whose pipeline strategy was based on targeted mAb drug design.

    The Challenge

    The requester needed to validate recombinant mAb transcript sequences generated in production cell lines that incorporated transgenic sequences for several modified light and heavy chain genes. The method chosen analysis was RNA-seq NGS on a validated Illumina® platform, with short read mapping to the transgene reference sequences. However, because significant regions of related transgene sequences were almost identical, read mis-mapping was occurring at high rates. As a result, false variants were being reported in sample consensus sequences at 50% frequency. Strategies involving generating more or longer reads were not successful in fully resolving this issue, while also increasing study costs.


    ACGT Increase in Accuracy

    ACGT’s Solution


    The ACGT team realized that the company’s GLP-validated software’s mapping algorithms would preferentially map reads to sequences that matched them exactly rather than to those that had a mismatch. The problem was that when reads were mapped to individual transgene reference sequences, that choice was not available.


    To address this additional challenge, the team combined all reference sequences into a single merged reference and mapped all the reads from each sample library to that artificial target. Resulting alignments had zero mismatches, confirming that the cell lines were expressing correct transcripts, and that no variants were present. The solution required no additional NGS data or analysis time and prevented extra costs being incurred by the customer.

    Learn more about ACGT, Inc.’s sequence analysis capabilities, regulatory experience, and other certifications by visiting their Provider Profile.

    in The Science Exchange Blog on December 12, 2018 03:45 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Many babies are crummy sleepers, confirming what millions of parents already know

    A new survey suggests that lots and lots of babies aren’t sleeping through the night. The results may prompt new parents to lower their expectations.

    in Science News on December 12, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Epistémologie politique (I) Introduction

    Dans cette série, je m’intéresse à l’épistémologie de la pensée politique. J’entends ici par épistémologie la théorie de la connaissance de manière générale, c’est-à-dire pas seulement la connaissance scientifique mais la connaissance du monde, plus généralement. Dans la pensée politique, il y a bien sûr un aspect normatif (comment la société devrait être organisée et dans quel but) mais cette normativité prend toujours appui sur une théorie du monde : comment fonctionnent la société, l’économie, les structures de pouvoir. Elle inclut également toujours un certain nombre de présupposés sur la psychologie humaine. Par exemple, selon une théorie typiquement associée à la droite conservatrice, l’homme est un loup pour l’homme (Hobbes) ; il s’ensuit que des institutions doivent être créées pour protéger l’homme de ses congénères. Une variante (droite libérale) est que l’homme cherche avant tout à maximiser à son intérêt personnel ; il s’ensuit que les institutions sociales doivent être organisées de façon à ce que l’intérêt personnel coïncide avec l’intérêt collectif. Selon une autre théorie ancrée à gauche, l’homme est naturellement altruiste (Rousseau) ; il s’ensuit que la société doit être organisée pour faciliter la coopération entre les hommes (avec bien sûr de nombreuses variantes ; anarchismes, communismes, etc).

    Ainsi les doctrines politiques sont en grande partie déterminées par des théories sous-jacentes de l’homme et du monde. Par conséquent, les désaccords politiques sont très souvent liés à des désaccords sur ces théories et se manifestent donc sur le plan épistémologique. Par exemple, les discours de droite tendent à se présenter comme « réalistes » ; la droite libérale comme « rationnelle » ; par opposition à une gauche qui serait « utopiste ». En utilisant ces mots, on se place non sur le plan de la finalité politique mais sur celui de la connaissance : on admet que la finalité des systèmes politiques critiqués est louable, mais on prétend qu’ils reposent sur une vision fausse de la façon dont le monde fonctionne. C’est donc réellement sur la connaissance que porte le jugement, sur la validité empirique des théories sous-jacentes.

    Le système politique néolibéral, par exemple (habituellement classé au centre droit), refuse généralement l’appellation « néolibéral », pourquoi ? Parce que ses partisans ne pensent pas suivre une doctrine particulière, mais simplement exprimer ce qui est rationnel, « logique ». D’un point de vue épistémologique, cette posture est critiquable, puisque la logique s’exprime dans un cadre formel, et donc dans un modèle particulier. Autrement dit, la rationalité s’exerce au sein d’une théorie particulière du monde, ce qui fait que deux discours contradictoires peuvent être rationnels, mais relatifs à des théories différentes. Par exemple, les discours Keynésiens et néoclassiques sont deux discours rationnels contradictoires, parce qu’ils reposent sur des modèles différents. Conformément à cette posture rationaliste, la pensée néolibérale ou néoclassique repose largement sur une connaissance mathématisée, c’est-à-dire dont les questions portent sur des aspects formels plutôt que sur la validité empirique du modèle sous-jacent (comme le concept de l’agent rationnel). La théorie tend par conséquent à ignorer les champs du savoir permettant de questionner empiriquement les modèles socio-économiques, tels que l’histoire, la sociologie, l’anthropologie. On peut donc formuler une critique épistémologique de cette pensée politique.

    De manière symétrique, le discours de gauche tend à dépeindre la pensée politique de droite comme la manifestation sournoise de mauvaises intentions. Par exemple, le discours économique de droite tend à promouvoir la réduction de l’impôt, en particulier sur les plus riches. Ceci est vu par la critique de gauche comme la défense des intérêts d’une classe dominante. Pourquoi ? Encore une fois, on peut analyser la question sous l’angle épistémologique. Selon les théories de gauche, l’impôt est ce qui permet de répartir équitablement les richesses. Par conséquent, une mesure tendant à réduire l’impôt favorise les classes riches de la population. Il s’ensuit qu’un système politique qui promeut cette mesure doit avoir pour but de favoriser ces classes. Il s’agit encore une fois de la simple expression de la rationalité au sein d’un cadre théorique. On a donc dans le discours néolibéral et dans sa critique deux discours rationnels au sein de cadres théoriques différents.

    Ce dernier exemple soulève un autre point épistémologique intéressant, qui est la façon dont les partisans d’une théorie jugent ceux d’une autre théorie. On voit dans cet exemple l’opposition de deux mépris : le néolibéral considère son critique comme idiot (irrationnel) ; le critique considère le néolibéral comme égoïste et de mauvaise foi. Dans les deux cas, le partisan juge son adversaire en utilisant son propre cadre théorique, c’est-à-dire comme si l’adversaire utilisait le même cadre théorique. En effet, le néolibéral juge son critique idiot, parce que ce critique serait effectivement idiot s’il adoptait le cadre théorique néolibéral mais n’en tirait pas les conclusions logiques (d’où le discours récurrent des gouvernants face à leur opposition qu’il faut « faire de la pédagogie », ce qui est perçu à juste titre comme du mépris). De même, l’opposant juge le néolibéral de mauvaise foi, c’est-à-dire qu’il considère que celui-ci est tout à fait conscient que ses propositions politiques favorisent la classe dominante. Or ceci suppose qu’il a adopté le cadre théorique alternatif de l’opposant. Dans les deux cas donc, chacun semble négliger la possibilité que son propre cadre de pensée est une théorie dont il est convaincu, et non une vérité évidente et universelle. Il en résulte une critique relativement stérile, en cela qu’elle ne porte pas sur les fondements (notamment empiriques) des théories en compétition mais sur les supposées compétences des interlocuteurs d’un côté (arguments d’autorité) et sur les intérêts personnels ou de classe de l’autre (invectives).

    On touche ici à deux points distincts. D’une part, au statut épistémologique des théories (est-ce qu’elles se valent toutes et ne sont que des points de vue ? ou peut-on les juger empiriquement ou théoriquement ?). Sur ce point, on peut s’appuyer sur une riche littérature en philosophie des sciences. D’autre part, à la psychologie des croyances : qu’est-ce qui fait que l’on croit à certaines théories plutôt qu’à d’autres, et qu’éventuellement on change d’avis ? Sur ce deuxième point, on peut s’appuyer également sur une riche littérature en psychologie sociale, comme la théorie de la dissonance cognitive dont je parlerai dans un prochain texte. Celle-ci propose que l’on cherche à rendre nos actes et nos croyances cohérents non seulement en agissant conformément à nos croyances, mais également dans de nombreux cas en adaptant nos croyances à nos actes (entre autres). Par exemple, une personne qui gagne beaucoup d’argent peut se convaincre qu’un système politique qui favorise l’inégalité est plus efficace. Ceci explique l’alignement entre catégories sociologiques et croyances politiques, qui est plus satisfaisante que la théorie de la mauvaise foi. Ce n’est effectivement pas un hasard si les classes supérieures tendent à adopter une théorie qui justifie leur position sociale (e.g. la théorie néolibérale), mais cela ne veut pas dire pour autant que cette adoption est cynique. Au contraire, ces croyances sont sincères. Simplement, différentes catégories sociologiques et culturelles sont plus ou moins susceptibles d’adopter différentes croyances.

    Dans cette série, je compte donc développer une critique épistémologique du discours politique.

    in Romain Brette on December 12, 2018 11:05 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    ‘Little Foot’ skeleton analysis reignites debate over the hominid’s species

    Long-awaited analyses of the Little Foot skeleton have researchers disagreeing over resurrecting a defunct species name.

    in Science News on December 12, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Finding K-Means Clustering

    Deepak Panday's journal club session, where he will present the papers "Recovering the number of clusters in data sets with noise features using feature rescaling factors (Renato Cordeiro de Amorima and Christian Hennig, 2015)" and "Intelligent Choice of the Number of Clusters in K-Means Clustering An Experimental Study with Different Cluster Spreads (Mark Ming-Tso Chiang and Boris Mirkin, 2010)".

    "Recovering the number of clusters in data sets with noise features using feature rescaling factors (Renato Cordeiro de Amorima and Christian Hennig, 2015)" abstract:

    In this paper we introduce three methods for re-scaling data sets aiming at improving the likelihood of clustering validity indexes to return the true number of spherical Gaussian clusters with additional noise features. Our method obtains feature re-scaling factors taking into account the structure of a given data set and the intuitive idea that different features may have different degrees of relevance at different clusters. We experiment with the Silhouette (using squared Euclidean, Manhattan, and the pth power of the Minkowski distance), Dunn’s, Calinski–Harabasz and Hartigan indexes on data sets with spherical Gaussian clusters with and without noise features. We conclude that our methods indeed increase the chances of estimating the true number of clusters in a data set.

    "Intelligent Choice of the Number of Clusters in K-Means Clustering An Experimental Study with Different Cluster Spreads (Mark Ming-Tso Chiang and Boris Mirkin, 2010)" abstract:

    The issue of determining “the right number of clusters” in K-Means has attracted considerable interest, especially in the recent years. Cluster intermix appears to be a factor most affecting the clustering results. This paper proposes an experimental setting for comparison of different approaches at data generated from Gaussian clusters with the controlled parameters of between- and within-cluster spread to model cluster intermix. The setting allows for evaluating the centroid recovery on par with conventional evaluation of the cluster recovery. The subjects of our interest are two versions of the “intelligent” K-Means method, ik-Means, that find the “right” number of clusters by extracting “anomalous patterns” from the data one-by-one. We compare them with seven other methods, including Hartigan’s rule, averaged Silhouette width and Gap statistic, under different between- and within-cluster spread-shape conditions. There are several consistent patterns in the results of our experiments, such as that the right K is reproduced best by Hartigan’s rule – but not clusters or their centroids. This leads us to propose an adjusted version of iK-Means, which performs well in the current experiment setting.

    Date: 14/12/2018
    Time: 16:00
    Location: LB250

    in UH Biocomputation group on December 12, 2018 10:40 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Linköping investigation: Tiwari trips over Sharma’s fraud

    The last act of the Ashutosh Tiwari travesty at Linköping University (LiU) in Sweden took place. Tiwari, the fake professor and master of predatory conferences, tripped only over his vanity of gift co-authorship on 3 papers by his Allahabad mate Prashant Sharma, a shameless nanotechnology data faker with presently 26 retractions.

    in For Better Science on December 12, 2018 10:36 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    “An additional reason to abandon learning styles” – teachers and pupils do not agree on the pupils’ preferred learning style

    34372257313_7291897a62_b-2.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    “Learning styles” – there can be few ideas that have created such a stark disconnect between the experts on the ground and the evidence published in scholarly journals. Endorsed by the overwhelming majority of teachers, yet dismissed by most psychologists and educational neuroscientists as a “neuromyth”, the basis of learning styles is that people learn better when taught via their preferred learning modality, usually (but not always) described as either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic.

    Many studies have already uncovered serious problems with the learning styles concept, such as that measures of learning styles are invalid and that students do not in fact learn better via their preferred modality. Now further evidence against learning styles comes from Greece, in one of the first investigations on the topic to involve primary school pupils.

    Writing in Frontiers in Education, Marietta Papadatou-Pastou and her colleagues report that teachers and pupils did not agree on the pupils’ preferred learning modality – a significant blow for the learning styles concept since “teachers typically adopt learning styles within a classroom context by relying on their own assessment of students’ learning styles.”

    The study was simple enough – nearly 200 fifth- and sixth-grade pupils (average age 11 years) from five schools chose which was their preferred learning style out of visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. They also completed a short IQ test (the Raven’s matrices). Next, their teachers – 19 took part – first provided an open-ended answer to the question “Does teaching that is tailor-made to the students’ learning style reinforce the students’ performance?”, then they were asked to identify each of their pupils’ favoured style (such that each child was rated by one teacher).

    All of the participating teachers endorsed the concept of learning styles. However, there was not a statistically significant correlation between the teachers’ judgments of their pupils’ favoured learning style and the pupils’ own declaration of their preference. “We posit that identifying preferred learning style can be a hit-and-miss process, with no agreement between the assessment made by teachers and students,” the researchers said.

    There was also no association between the teachers’ judgments of pupils’ learning style and the pupils’ IQ, suggesting the teachers were not using IQ as a proxy for learning style.

    A weakness of the study was that the teachers were not asked specifically about the kind of learning styles approach they used or favoured, so it’s possible they were not familiar with the visual, auditory, kinaesthetic breakdown, though this seems unlikely since this so-called VARK model is the most popular.

    Papadatou-Pastou and her team concluded that “… if the identification of learning styles … is unreliable, as evidence by the findings of the present study, this should constitute an additional reason why teachers should abandon the use of learning styles in instruction.”

    The Learning Styles Educational Neuromyth: Lack of Agreement Between Teachers’ Judgments, Self-Assessment, and Students’ Intelligence

    Image via JoanDragonfly / Flickr

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 12, 2018 09:06 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea

    There are more coral species lurking in the deep ocean that previously thought. That could be good news for their shallow water counterparts.

    in Science News on December 12, 2018 12:05 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Here’s what was surprising about Kilauea’s 3-month-long eruption

    Researchers revealed new insight into the Hawaiian volcano’s most recent eruption.

    in Science News on December 11, 2018 11:39 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Biologists are one step closer to creating snake venom in the lab

    Milking snakes for venom may soon no longer be needed to make antidotes for bites.

    in Science News on December 11, 2018 07:08 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A new way to turn saltwater fresh can kill germs and avoid gunk buildup

    A new device that harnesses sunlight to produce pure vapor from seawater could last longer and produce cleaner water than other technology.

    in Science News on December 11, 2018 04:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The list of extreme weather caused by human-driven climate change grows

    The tally of extreme weather events linked to climate change continues to grow, with new studies outlining links to more than a dozen events in 2017.

    in Science News on December 11, 2018 03:41 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    It’s time to get serious about decreasing bias in the clinical literature. Here’s one way to do that.

    Recently, we wrote in STAT about the “research integrity czars” that some journals are hiring to catch misconduct and errors. But are there other ways that journals could ensure the integrity of the scientific record? Tom Jefferson, a physician, methods researcher, and campaigner for open clinical trial data, has a suggestion, which he explores in … Continue reading It’s time to get serious about decreasing bias in the clinical literature. Here’s one way to do that.

    in Retraction watch on December 11, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The OA Interviews: Peter Mandler

    In September a new European open access initiative called Plan S was announced. The stated goal is to ensure that from 2020, “scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant open access journals or platforms.” 

    In other words, the aim is to make all publicly-funded European research papers freely available to the world immediately on publication.
    Peter Mandler
    Plan S signatories currently include 13 European funders and two charitable foundationswho have banded together as cOAlition S in order to oversee and promote the initiative. One of the first to sign up was UK Research England and Innovation (UKRI) – an organisation formed earlier this year to bring together in one unified body the seven UK research councils, as well as Innovate UK and the research and knowledge exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

    Plan S has sparked a heated debate within the research community, and it has faced considerable pushback, including the publication of an open letter expressing concern about its likely impact. To date, the letter has attracted over 1,500 signatures. 

    What is especially controversial about Plan S (aside from the short timeframe before implementation) is its decision to ban hybrid OA. Also contentious is its demand that all research papers funded by cOAlition S members must be published under the most liberal Creative Commons licence (CC BY or equivalent).

    While cOAlition S subsequently announced that hybrid OA will get a three-year stay of execution, Nature calculates that banning hybrid OA means that European researchers will be unable to publish in 85% of the journals they currently submit too. Rather they will need to publish in “pure” gold OA journals, which in most cases will require paying article-processing charges (APCs). In addition, the ban has raised concerns about academic freedom.

    And although cOAlition S insists that green OA (self-archiving) will remain an option for researchers, the strict compliance rules it has set (and the technical requirements demanded of repositories) would seem to mean that in most cases green OA will be practically impossible.

    Plan S is the most ambitious OA initiative yet mooted by any public research funder and has caused hand-wringing even amongst OA advocates. While some have welcomed the initiative, others are critical. Yet others appear decidedly conflicted about it.

    To date, much of the public debate has focussed on the implications for scientists. Yet the impact on Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) scholars looks likely to be more profound.

    The implications for HSS journals and learned societies are of particular concern, and there are real fears that the rules that will be applied to journals (including compulsory CC BY) will be extended to books too – a move that is felt would be entirely inappropriate. cOAlition S has yet to issue guidance on this but has said that it plans to do so. To add to the concern, earlier this year it was announced that to be eligible for the 2027 REF long-form scholarly works and monographs will have to be published OA. Monographs are key vehicles for HSS scholars to communicate their research.

    What is particularly frustrating for UK-based HSS scholars is that Plan S looks set to rip up the settlement that was reached in the wake of the 2012 Finch Report. Wounds that had begun to heal will be re-opened.

    As Peter Mandler, Professor of Modern Cultural History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, puts it in the interview below, “[I]t’s as if we haven’t had the five years of post-Finch arguments! We’re just going to have to have them all over again.”

    For a sense of the challenge Plan S poses for HSS scholars please read on.

    The interview begins …

    RP: Can we start by establishing where you sit in the open access debate? In 2013 Cambridge Professor of Ancient History Robin Osborne said: “There can be no such thing as free access to academic research. Academic research is not something to which free access is possible. Academic research is a process – a process which universities teach (at a fee) … For those who wish to have access, there is an admission cost: they must invest in the education prerequisite to enable them to understand the language used.” Did Osborne have a point in your view? Or do you believe that open access is both a good thing, and an achievable goal?

    PM: I have always believed that open access is a good thing, and achievable if properly planned and invested in, though probably never universally in the humanities.

    One of my first contributions to the Royal Historical Society, as its Honorary Secretary in the late 1990s, was to propose that we put our Bibliography of British and Irish History – our biggest scholarly asset, compiled over 80 years by dedicated historians and bibliographers – free and online. It took a grant from the nascent AHRC but it was a major achievement.

    Then the AHRC discovered that keeping it online and updated would require a recurrent grant – not a large one, but a long-term investment – and it backed away, in the end recommending that we sell to a commercial publisher. We did, because we had to, and it is now available at a reasonable subscription.

    Shortly after this the AHRC became an enthusiast for open access publishing, though still without any ideas about how to pay for it.

    That early lesson taught me that the policymakers find it easier to make policy than to find the funds to back it up – and that open access policies weren’t being designed with the specific needs of the humanities in mind.

    RP: Osborne also said there is “no clear dividing line between projects funded by research councils and an academic’s daily activities of thinking and teach.” He added that to attribute any particular publication to a particular funding body “is simply impossible.” Would you agree with that point of view? If so, is the OA movement’s mantra that publicly funded research should be freely available to the public built on weak foundations?

    PM: The argument has since moved on. Government argues that it funds all academics through the REF. To an extent that’s true. The problem is again that it doesn’t fund everything we do (nor indeed all of us), so it can’t reasonably claim ownership of everything we do.

    That said, I do think academic research ought to be made as widely and freely available as possible.

    RP: Can you say something about your publishing activity: what and how often you publish? What publishers you generally publish with etc.? And do you currently incur any publication charges when publishing?

    PM: Like most historians I write books and articles, and they are published mostly by university presses which don’t make massive profits off their humanities publishing operations, while providing a valuable service.

    I have tried to steer clear of publication charges, as I don’t think they are fair to un- or under-funded academics. However, some of my current research is funded by the ESRC and they require me to publish only in journals which meet their embargo stipulations or to publish Gold OA with limited funds and to publish CC BY, all of which I object to on principle.

    RP: Can you say something about your other activities around scholarly publishing (beyond publishing your own work)? I assume you are on the editorial board of one or more journals? You are a Fellow of the British Academy and the BA has a publishing programme – are you involved in the management of that programme in any way? You were also President of the Royal Historical Society between 2012-2016, and I believe it was during your tenure that the RHS launched a new OA monograph series called New Historical Perspectives, which levies no Book Publication Charges on authors. Were you involved in the development of that series? Also, are you associated with other publishers in ways other than as an author?

    PM: As I mentioned above, I have been an advocate of open access since my early involvement in the Royal Historical Society in the 1990s, and I was proud that we moved our monograph operations to free OA during my presidency.

    However, again this experience has given me a lively awareness of the real costs of humanities publishing and how much we need to invest in order to maintain academic freedom and quality under OA conditions.

    The RHS has benefited from generous grants from other learned bodies and from its collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research which has enabled us to make this investment. Not many learned societies have the resources to follow suit.

    Otherwise like most academics I sit on editorial boards – again, mostly journals published by university presses which I think offer good value for money.


    RP: I think it fair to say that mandatory open access became a significant thing in the UK with the publication of the 2012 Finch Report, which recommended “moving to deliver open access through a ‘gold’ model, where article processing-charges are paid upfront to cover the cost of publication”. This led to a an often-heated discussion over the RCUK and HEFCE OA policies introduced in the wake of the Finch Report and, as a result, a greater emphasis was eventually placed on green OA.

    As part of that discussion, UK politicians held several Select Committee inquiries (here and here), and you too took part in the debate: as President of the Royal Historical Society you warned of “looming dangers to peer review, academic freedom, the activities and charitable functions of learned societies, and the international standing (and in some cases the continued existence) of Britain’s scholarly journals”.

    One thing you were particularly concerned about was the push to mandate researchers to attach the most liberal Creative Commons licence (CC BY) to all their works. As I understand it, you felt this to be particularly inappropriate for historians and others HSS scholars. In response, you faced pushback from OA advocates, who argued that historians’ concerns were misplaced. For instance, they said, CC BY does not allow or encourage plagiarism in the way I think you feared. They also argued that including third party content in an OA publication (for example images or graphics) is not necessarily any more challenging than when using a traditional licence. All that the publisher needs to do, they said, is to attach a separate copyright notice to any third-party content included in a CC BY licensed work.

    Would that be an accurate description of events? Did you accept any of the arguments made by OA advocates? Have your thoughts about the use of Creative Commons licences changed at all since then? If not, why? Are OA advocates wrong on these issues?

    PM: I do think this remains an important issue, as ‘reuse’ under CC BY authorises practices that we call plagiarism in academic life. I know advocates of CC BY dislike the use of this word, but it is a good word to describe the practice of copying and altering words without specifying how they are altered.

    CC BY requires only that if you reuse you must ‘attribute’ the work to the original author and say that you have altered it, but you don’t have to say how you have altered it, and this is often very difficult or impossible to determine (e.g. in translations, or in slight but significant unflagged alterations). Thus your reuse takes on the authority of my words but can bend them to your own very distinctive uses and the reader can’t easily tell which is which.

    CC BY was designed to enable artistic experiments and sophisticated data techniques, with the permission of the author. It was not designed to enable the copying and manipulation of persuasive or argumentative prose, without the permission of the authors, which is what funder mandates for CC BY in the humanities now require. (My only recourse if I think you are misusing my words is to force you to remove the attribution, so that now my words are being used without even being identified as mine!).

    I am very happy to sign ND licences which permit endless copying of my words without altering them, in order to permit open access, which is what the movement is supposed to be about.

    I should point out that I put these arguments after Finch to Creative Commons, which granted that it had not anticipated these kinds of applications of CC BY, but also said it was not willing to devise a different licence that would require (e.g.) mark-up to show what changes had been made. Fine. So let’s not use CC BY.

    RP: In the event, in response to the concerns raised by the research community (and politicians) both UK funder policies were adapted, and I formed the impression that a kind of post-Finch settlement emerged that most people felt able to sign up to. Is that your view too?

    PM: Well, we reached a set of messy compromises that reflected the messiness of the process as well as (more justifiably) the messiness of real life.

    There is still what I think to be an unreasonable mandate for Gold OA and CC BY for research-council funded research (like my ESRC grant).

    The REF mandate for all other academic research came later and reflected a deeper engagement with humanities scholars. Thus it better reflects our different patterns of publication. It allows more liberal Green OA practices and exemptions where academics want or need to publish in journals that don’t have OA policies or can’t publish in OA forms (e.g. where our data is owned by third parties, as so often – unlike scientists – we don’t generate or even own our data).

    It is very complicated and has made many academics – not only in the humanities – throw up their hands in despair. I wouldn’t have started from here. I would have started by including, I don’t know, one humanities academic on the Finch Committee?

    Plan S

    RP: The OA divide (if I may call it that) has opened up again in both the UK and Europe this year with the announcement of Plan S, which would require that, “from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.” While it talks of “scientific publications”, it is clear that cOAlition S has HSS works in its sights too. If successfully introduced this would surely be the most bold (aggressive even) OA policy introduced by any public funder in the world. It certainly seems to be intent on ripping up any Finch settlement. What are your views on Plan S, what parts do you feel are acceptable, and what parts do you have concerns about?

    PM: Our funders have signed up to Plan S once again without consulting, so far as I can tell, anyone from the humanities.

    They say it is compatible with the Finch settlement because it adopts three routes to OA – 1) Gold OA (not suitable for most humanities scholars who lack funding for this purpose), 2) Green OA, but also 3) no publication in ‘hybrid’ journals unless they move to Gold OA.

    This looks like it preserves the research council model (route 1) and the REF model (route 2), but since route 3 is designed to drive out of business the very journals that permit route 2 it turns out that there is really only 1 route intended in the long run, 100% Gold OA, and that’s the one which humanities scholars can’t afford.

    It also categorically prescribes CC BY (while the REF model accommodates NC and ND) – it’s as if we haven’t had the five years of post-Finch arguments! We’re just going to have to have them all over again. Again, I wouldn’t have started from here.

    RP: Unsurprisingly, perhaps, objections to Plan S emerged almost immediately, not least in the shape of an open letter in which over 1,500 researchers have expressed concerns about the implications of the initiative.

    In response, the Plan S architects appear to have rowed back a little (as Nature puts it). So, for instance, when the guidance on implementation document was published on 27th November a transition period had been introduced to allow hybrid OA to continue for three further years (so long as it is under a “transformative agreement”). The initial proposal had envisaged a blanket ban of hybrid from 2020, which had been a particular concern for HSS.

    In its response to Plan S the British Academy wrote: “In HSS, nearly all reputable journals are hybrid, in that they publish articles not supported by funders, for which libraries or private individuals pay subscriptions, at the same time as making possible the publication of Gold OA articles. We cannot accept that attempting to abolish them all would contribute positively to the successful dissemination of scientific research. Nor do we believe that preventing researchers from publishing in the journals which they believe to be the most appropriate is an ethically sustainable position.” I assume you would agree with the BA over this, and presumably a three-year stay of execution will not satisfy you? How serious a threat do you think there remains here?

    PM: The long-term effect of Plan S, if implemented, will be to bifurcate journals into Gold OA journals available to funded academics (most scientists) and subscription journals available to unfunded academics (most humanists).

    Unfunded scientists and funded humanists will get caught in the middle – probably a lot of social scientists too. Most humanities journals didn’t want to become hybrid journals but were forced into this by funder policies that obliged their clients to pay APCs.

    Under Plan S they will have to choose, and because most of their contributors are unfunded, they will have to choose to reject funded scholars with their APCs.

    That would be bad enough – a bizarre system of apartheid. If the funders go further and try to extend Plan S to all scholars, e.g. through the REF, then that will instantly put out of bounds most of the leading journals in my discipline. Many of them are American, whose principal constituencies are under no funder mandates, and they will just shrug their shoulders and say bye-bye to European scholars. It will be the European scholars’ loss – in terms of academic quality and academic freedom. And where will European scholars without funding – most of us – get the funds to publish at all?

    RP: Can I just clarify this: As I understand it, cOAlition S funders are intent on eradicating subscription journals. Even if they were not, the compliance requirements they have set for green OA (immediate deposit with CC BY in repositories that have to meet technical specifications that very few if any repositories are currently able to meet) would seem to put the future of subscription journals at serious risk -- especially, as you say, if Plan S is extended to all scholars not just those that are funded. On the other hand, if Plan S does not propagate widely (although it seems that China may be sympathetic to the initiative), then subscription journals will persist, but they will be out of bounds to European researchers, who could even discover that they are not able to publish in journals at all. Is that how you see it?

    PM: It’s hard to say. I think probably they are trying to eliminate subscription journals altogether. But they don’t say so explicitly, so I am trying to puzzle out the range of short- and long-term outcomes envisaged or likely.

    Funded academics are certainly effectively excluded from subscription journals for the reasons you suggest (even if they wanted to, they can't comply with the Green OA route 2). But this leaves most of us in humanities who most of the time are not funded by research councils. Only if they intend to extend this plan to us does the scenario I sketch out in the final paragraph come into play.

    CC BY

    RP: While it has rowed back on hybrid OA, the guidance document seems to have embedded mandatory CC BY more firmly in Plan S. It has yet to be confirmed exactly how monographs will be impacted by this, but in any case it had previously been announced that to be eligible for the 2027 REF long-form scholarly works and monographs will have to be published OA. Again, there has yet to be a decision made about licensing, but I assume you hope there will not be an insistence that books are published CC BY? Can you share your thoughts on what you feel the future holds for HSS scholars in this regard?

    PM: Very simply I hope that any OA monographs mandate and Plan S will just say we accept NC-ND as the current REF mandate does.

    But OA monographs raise many other problems that we haven’t yet discussed. They cost a lot more to edit and produce – even in online only form – than articles. Who is going to pay?

    I was on the advisory body to Geoff Crossick when he wrote his report on OA monographs, and we all concluded that there was not yet a viable funding model that could make monographs universally open-access. I haven’t noticed any substantial advance on that position (indeed, some substantial retreats – e.g. the snaffling up of Knowledge Unlatched by corporate interests). What makes UKRI think we are suddenly ready to proceed?

    RP: More broadly, and based on where we are today, what impact do you think Plan S and the increasingly demanding REF requirements for OA are likely to have on history journals, and indeed on learned societies? Is the threat you see now greater than it was in 2013, or is there less of a threat?

    PM: A bit of both. On the one hand, we do have some useful experiences and experiments. I think some journal publishers have realised that the REF compromise – which distinguishes between the open-access manuscript and a paid-for Version of Record – won’t make their current models unviable, even without embargoes. That’s a plus.

    There are a few more high-quality OA outlets now (like the Royal Historical Society monograph series!). That’s a plus.

    But are we any nearer to a system where all humanities scholars have equal access to open access regardless of their funding and institutional standing? No. And the funders seem just as if not more willing to proceed regardless.

    Academic freedom

    RP: What are your current thoughts on the likely impact of mandatory OA policies like Plan S on academic freedom?

    PM: I do think academics ought to be able to publish wherever they like. I don’t mind a Green OA mandate that doesn’t interfere with that right, because I think the public ought to have as much access as possible to publicly-funded research, so long as it doesn’t jeopardise academic quality and freedom.

    But most worrying of all is the way in which (in the UK) OA mandates form part of a broader trend towards closer government control of academic research. The Higher Education and Research Act of 2017 explicitly rewrote the Haldane Principle so as to empower it in this way against the arm’s-length conventions of the previous century.

    It also put both the research councils and the once more arm’s-length apparatus of the funding councils under a single body whose members sit at the pleasure of the government. We have to see all new mandates in this context.

    RP: The BA document I referred to questions the cOAlition S claim that there is no valid reason to maintain any kind of subscription-based business model for scholarly journals in the digital world. What are your views on this?

    PM: The OA movement originated in well-founded righteous indignation against corporate publishers monopolising academic research and charging us sky-high rates to read our own work. (They then often boasted about the premium profits they made on their academic publishing units – see Informa reports to shareholders from a few years back – they seem to have toned that down since!)  

    But it has now extended its reach to charitable and academic publishers who charge a reasonable price for substantial infrastructural and editorial services. Even in the digital world these essential services are not free. Look at the William & Mary Quarterly that provides a superb service to authors and readers at a low price. What good end would be served by trying to drive them out of business?

    RP: Do you have any views on preprint servers and their role in scholarly communication as we move towards an open access future? Do preprint servers have much use or interest for historians?

    PM: Circulating your work before publication has been a standard operating procedure for historians for decades. We give lectures and seminars and circulate our drafts to interested parties. At the point where we are ready to publish, we ask journals (i.e. our peers) to invest a lot of time and effort to get our drafts up to the required level – through peer review, editorial advice, copy-editing, proofreading. This is an essential community service to early-career scholars in particular and deserves to be cherished (and its modest costs paid for).

    Any wider circulation of drafts seems to be an unmitigated good; at the point where journals start to make their contribution, circulation should be constrained only to the degree necessary to protect that contribution. The Green OA compromise for the REF was designed to try to find that point – i.e. between the accepted manuscript and the version of record.


    RP: I sometimes think that the end point of the increasingly onerous OA mandates we are seeing being imposed on researchers, and their increasing discomfit with them, could eventually see universities and/or funders start to insist on acquiring all faculty copyright (which I believe the law already allows universities, as employers, to do). I recall that in 2002 there was a row over copyright in Cambridge when the University sought to acquire faculty IP. Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering at the Computer Laboratory in Cambridge was heavily involved in a successful campaign to stop what he called the “expropriation” of faculty copyright.

    Might we see a re-run of this in response to the increasingly demanding OA mandates? After all, even if universities and funders are not (currently) insisting on acquiring faculty copyright for themselves, by insisting on the use of CC BY they are telling researchers that they have to give away all the rights in their works bar the right of attribution are they not?

    PM: The wider UK context is an ever tighter managerial control over academic work, which leads to all sorts of power-grabs, not confined to IP. Academics are rightly worried about this.

    The Scholarly Communication Licence which was the flavour of the month in managerial circles earlier this year was one good example. It said, let’s ignore the compromise that was struck on REF, and try to circumvent it by requiring our academics to sign over their IP (leaving formal copyright but not much else in their academics’ hands).

    I don’t imagine such power-grabs will diminish in likelihood unless there is some major political or cultural upheaval in British higher education in coming years.

    RP: For historians and others in HSS there is presumably also the issue of trade books. Do you have concerns that OA policies could kill off the trade book, a possibility mooted by fellow Cambridge historian Helen McCarthy earlier this year. Your Wikipedia page indicates that you support popular, public history over the narrow, specialist study of the discipline. If researchers stopped producing trade books as a result of OA policies might we see public access to scholarly thinking reduced rather than increased?

    PM: If the funding councils do as they say, and seek to extend the REF OA mandate to monographs next time around, I imagine they will introduce a raft of exemptions such as were negotiated for the current REF OA mandate for journal articles.

    There will have to be in this case so many exemptions that you really wonder why they think the struggle is worth the candle. (I am horrified to see you quoting ‘my Wikipedia page’ as a reliable source. What does that statement even mean?)

    RP: I have been hearing rumours of a legal challenge to Plan S. Do you think that might happen? Would you welcome a legal challenge?

    PM: I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know enough to have an opinion. I understand that the legal challenges mooted so far mostly come from academics in German-speaking lands where there are more constitutional protections for academic freedom.

    I believe that the law academics at Aberdeen mounted a challenge recently to managerial attempts to expropriate their IP and one might expect such challenges to mount if there are more skirmishes over who owns IP.

    But I wouldn’t want to reduce this to a narrow legal question. It is also a moral, political and cultural question – how much control should government and management have over academic work? 

    RP: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

    in Open and Shut? on December 11, 2018 12:59 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Getting goose bumps could boost hair growth

    The same nerves and muscles that create goose bumps may make hair grow.

    in Science News on December 11, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Swedish Prosecution Authority reopens Macchiarini manslaughter investigation

    A decision was announced by the Swedish Prosecution Authority in Gothenburg on the Paolo Macchiarini case today. The issue are plastic trachea transplants the scandal surgeon performed at the hospital of the Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Stockholm, Sweden. The earlier decision by state prosecutor was changed in part and the preliminary investigation will be reopened

    in For Better Science on December 11, 2018 10:19 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    In the “Trust Game”, men with more autistic traits were less influenced by their partner’s facial appearance

    Screenshot 2018-12-11 09.42.14.pngMen with more autistic traits made decisions based more on their partner’s behaviour and less on appearance;  from Hooper et al, 2018

    By Emma Young

    We make all kinds of snap decisions about a person based on their facial appearance. How trustworthy we think they are is one of the most important, as it can have many social and financial consequences, from influencing our decisions about whether to lend someone money to which Airbnb property to book.

    However, as the authors of a new study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, note, “Although facial impressions of trustworthiness are formed automatically, they are not especially accurate predictors of trustworthy behaviour.” People who are less susceptible to forming these impressions could, then, be at an advantage. And, as Jasmine Hooper at the University of Western of Australia and colleagues now report, men with high levels of autistic traits fall into this category. 

    Earlier work (involving two authors of the new study) already hinted that autism might have a bearing on whether people act on first impressions in a typical way. The researchers found that when they prompted boys diagnosed with autism to judge trustworthiness from photographs, they formed the same kinds of impressions as non-autistic boys, but unlike them, they did not use these judgments in their decision-making in an economic trust game. 

    To explore whether higher levels of autistic-like traits, such as increased attention to detail, might also affect the use of first impressions even among the general population, the researchers recruited 46 men without autism, who completed the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (a symptom-based scale which is typically used by clinicians to diagnose autism) and a facial trustworthiness impressions task. The researchers found that, as they predicted, when prompted to make trustworthiness judgements from faces, people with high or low levels of autistic traits made similar judgements. But the next phase of the study showed some important differences between the two groups.

    All the participants also took part in an adult version of the economic trust game used in the earlier research with boys, in which they interacted with virtual “partners”, who had been independently rated as looking either trustworthy or untrustworthy. Over a series of trials, these partners were consistently fair or selfish, and crucially this behaviour pattern was not related to their facial appearance. Therefore the best strategy for predicting future behaviour – and making money, because participants could keep their winnings – was for the participants to ignore appearances and focus solely on their partner’s behaviour in previous money allocation trials. 

    Again as the researchers predicted, the men with relatively low levels of autistic traits were influenced by how trustworthy or not the partners looked. The men who scored relatively high on the AQ scale were influenced too, but to a significantly lesser extent – they were more influenced by their partners’ actual behaviour. 

    Only between 1 and 1.5 per cent of people in the UK are thought to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. However, many other people do not meet the diagnostic criteria for autism but do have relatively high levels of autistic traits – there may therefore be a sizeable subset of people who are able to form trustworthiness judgements based on people’s faces when prompted, but who don’t do this automatically, and also aren’t so inclined to use these judgments in their social decisions (and so are less swayed by potentially misleading facial impressions than the rest of the population). 

    As the researchers note, “If facial impressions are not especially accurate predictions of actual trustworthiness, failure to use them to guide trust decisions may actually represent highly rational social behaviour.” 

    Should I trust you? Autistic traits predict reduced appearance‐based trust decisions

    Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 11, 2018 09:47 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Highlights of the BMC series: November 2018

    BMC Medical Education: Choosing a women’s health career


    A drop in the number of medical students entering the field of obstetrics and gynecology in the United States led to teaching institutions making a number of changes. It was hoped that the changes would encourage students to enter the field and now, nearly 15 years later that strategy appears to have worked.

    In a recent publication by Isabel C. Green and colleagues, the authors looked into which factors were the most important in determining students’ choice of an OB GYN career. Through interviews with students who had chosen to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, Green et al. discovered which aspects of teaching and which pre-medical school experiences were most likely to lead to an interest in the field.


    BMC Cancer: (Cost-)effectiveness of an internet-based physical activity support program (with and without physiotherapy counselling) on physical activity levels of breast and prostate cancer survivors: design of the PABLO trial


    A new publication in BMC Cancer by Van de Wiel and colleagues looks at the protocol for the PABLO trial which aims to promote physical activity in breast and prostate cancer survivors. The trial will be using an internet-based support program to help survivors meet recommended guidelines for activity.

    Improving physical activity levels for those who have completed cancer treatment has been shown to help the overall wellbeing of survivors and raise their quality of life. If the PABLO trial can show that this approach can help cancer survivors in real terms and is cost-effective, it may become a part of standard care.


    BMC Health Services Research: Motivators and barriers to vaccination of health professionals against seasonal influenza in primary healthcare

    As winter approaches, the public is often encouraged to seek influenza vaccination, especially for young children and the elderly. However, another high risk population which can be overlooked is health professionals. Health professionals are exposed to unique risk factors and so ensuring that they are vaccinated is especially important.

    Davorina Petek and Kristina Kamnik-Jug’s recent article in BMC Health Services Research examined why vaccination rates for health professionals in Slovenia have been declining. They discovered that there were a number of diverse reasons why certain groups of health professionals were not vaccinating; the most important of which were previous negative experiences and not understanding the need for it. This important research helps pave the way for further work to be done in this field.


    BMC Rheumatology celebrates its one year anniversary 

    The end of November marks the first anniversary of the launch of BMC Rheumatology. In the past year the journal has published a number of exciting articles in the field, from exploring osteoarthritis patients’ beliefs regarding pain to the role of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis. As BMC Rheumatology approaches the beginning of its second year it will continue to publish and promote exciting new research for its readership.


    BMC Series welcomes new journal: BMC Chemistry 


    The BMC-series has long been known for its journals covering the fields of both biology and medicine, but in January 2019 the series will be welcoming a new field: BMC Chemistry.

    In a recent blog by Samuel Winthrop it was announced that Chemistry Central Journal will be renamed to BMC Chemistry in January 2019 to become the first chemistry-based journal of the BMC-series.

    The journal will be headed by a group of nine Section Editors whose names will be well known by those in the field. We would encourage researchers to contact the editorial team of BMC Chemistry with any pre-submission enquiries.

    We’re sure that there will be plenty of exciting news and research coming out of BMC Chemistry so keep a close eye on this newest member of the BMC community.


    BMC Bioinformatics: Journal launches new thematic series: Machine learning for computational and systems biology.


    Since it published its first article back in 2000, BMC Bioinformatics has constantly aimed to be at the forefront of bioinformatics research, developing and evolving as the field advances. That tradition continues to this day as BMC Bioinformatics proudly presents a brand new section: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Bioinformatics.

    To celebrate this event, the journal and its Section Editor Professor Jean-Philippe Vert are pleased to announce the thematic series “Machine learning for computational and systems biology”. The thematic series is open for submissions until May 6th 2019 and further details can be found here.

    This new section, and the accompanying thematic series, represents the continuing change and progression, not just of the journal, but of the entire field.

    The post Highlights of the BMC series: November 2018 appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on December 11, 2018 09:39 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Using AI to map … AI?

    Elsevier’s new report sheds light on the future of global artificial intelligence research

    in Elsevier Connect on December 11, 2018 09:05 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    NASA’s OSIRIS-REx finds signs of water on the asteroid Bennu

    NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft found signs of water and lots of boulders on the asteroid Bennu.

    in Science News on December 10, 2018 11:13 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Voyager 2 spacecraft enters interstellar space

    Voyager 2 just became the second probe ever to enter interstellar space, and the first with a working plasma instrument.

    in Science News on December 10, 2018 05:57 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    For AI to truly transform healthcare, we need quality data – now

    Deep information analytics and AI can enable higher quality, personalized healthcare

    in Elsevier Connect on December 10, 2018 05:35 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Human Rights Day: What roles do physicians play in human rights issues?

    Physicians’ involvement in human rights

    As physicians we’re often confronted with different issues of ethics and human rights at different levels. Physicians can on the one hand be involved in the treatment of injuries related to war, but also in different forms of human rights violations.

    Salvador Allende and Che Guevara were physicians seen as heroes and social reformers by many, even outside of their respective countries: Time magazine claimed Guevara to be one of most influential personalities of the 20th century. On the other hand there have been physicians like Mengele or Illig working actively and by their own free decision without regard for medical ethics in the German and Austrian National Socialist regime performing dubious “research” in the spirit of that ideology.

    Physicians can also be convinced to violate ethical standards in a situation of “dual obligations”, common in situations such as prisons. Dr. Wendy Orr, a former District Surgeon in Port Elizabeth in South Africa, wrote in her foreword to the British Medical Association’s handbook on medicine and human rights, about her work with detainees during the apartheid regime. She describes how she became aware of the systematic abuse of detainees by the security forces and the silence and complicity of her medical colleagues. She recounts her growing moral disorientation as she realized she was expected to declare patients “fit” for corporal punishment.

    Similar situations have recently been reported in asylum cases even in countries with better earlier human rights track records. US physicians and psychologists have further been involved in planning and observation of torturing prisoners in Guantanamo.

    Upholding human rights

    Human rights systems such as the universal prohibition of torture, outlined in UN Convention against Torture are so fundamental that they cannot be suspended under any circumstances, they are “non-derogable”, and their violation can and must be investigated and prosecuted. Physicians should have a special positive role in this process.

    The “Istanbul Protocol” supported equally by the UN, and the World Medical Association, is an interdisciplinary standard that guides physicians and legal professionals to collaborate in ethical and humanitarian standards, forensic documentation, reporting, and investigation of alleged torture. It can also contribute to new strategies in the protection of survivors applying for asylum and for prosecution of perpetrators.

    Physicians can put themselves at risk for upholding these legal and ethical standards. For instance, it’s been reported that those who have witnessed torture in Kahrizak prison in Iran have been killed.

    Researcher Ahmadreza Djalali who is sentenced to death in Iran
    Courtesy of Vida Mehrannia

    An Iranian physician, Ahmadreza Jalali, has been sentenced to death in Iran because of allegations of spying for other countries. Up to now none of international protests and activities for his unconditional release have proven to lead to any significant positive development.

    All over the world health professionals put themselves in danger by being involved in activities to maintain human rights through organizations such as Physician for Human Rights, Physicians without Borders, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Survivors. Without involvement of these organizations many areas of the world crisis regions would have no access to medical care.

    The basic background of these activities are international standards and treaties along with ethical guidelines of the medical profession. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights already mentions health as part of the right to an adequate standard of living (art. 25). The right to health was again recognized as a human right in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. There are international instances of shortage of access to medical services, because of military conflicts or secondary to sanctions against a country.

    New challenges to ethics

    Recently, the practice of medicine has been subject to several transformations with unprecedented ethical challenges. One is the exponential increase in the sophistication and reach of medical technology. From genetic manipulation to in-vitro fertilization, data and confidentiality protection to the ethical risks enclosed at times in the enormous advances in life-saving research and treatment, medicine has given rise to moral challenges of huge social significance that medicine itself, and the Hippocratic tradition, have on their own not sufficiently responded to. Instead medicine has formed a fertile relationship with other disciplines, such as moral philosophy and medical law, to seek philosophically coherent and socially and legally acceptable responses to these questions.

    Given that the most serious threats to medical impartiality have come largely from interference by governmental agencies, but also by excessively powerful commercial companies or political groups, a critical aspect of medical impartiality is the doctors’ ability to speak out about health-related aspects of conflicts.

    Where, for example, doctors are seeing patients who have sustained injuries as a result of state responses to civil unrest, the documentation and reporting of those injuries is a core part of the medical response. If doctors cannot speak out, if they cannot draw attention to the health-related impacts of conflicts, they risk the loss of their professional independence.

    If they voluntarily violate fundamental standards, they should not be permitted to practice and medical associations and governments should take care to take all necessary steps to ensure this principle, while on the other hand supporting human rights defenders.

    Friedrich Schiller, also a physician, was against any restriction of personal or political freedom and emphasizes in the following poem in a way that could be extrapolated to the duties of physicians that we should focus our work on the needs of our patients:

    Live with your century;

    but do not be its creature.

    Work for your contemporaries;

    but create what they need,

    not what they praise

    The post Human Rights Day: What roles do physicians play in human rights issues? appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on December 10, 2018 04:52 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

    Robert Sternberg, a psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, whose work has been cited more than 140,000 times, has had a second paper retracted because he duplicated his previous work. Sternberg’s work came under scrutiny earlier this year when colleagues said he was citing himself at a high rate, and not doing … Continue reading Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

    in Retraction watch on December 10, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A satellite screw-up reaffirms Einstein’s theory of gravity

    Two spacecraft confirm that time passes more slowly closer to Earth’s surface.

    in Science News on December 10, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Psychology research is still fixated on a tiny fraction of humans – here’s how to fix that

    GettyImages-472927660.jpgNearly 95 per cent of participant samples in a leading psychology journal were from Western countries

    By guest blogger Jesse Singal

    For a long time, some psychologists have understood that their field has an issue with WEIRDness. That is, psychology experiments disproportionately involve participants who are Western, Educated, and hail from Industrialised, Rich Democracies, which means many findings may not generalise to other populations, such as, say, rural Samoan villagers.

    In a new paper in PNAS, a team of researchers led by Mostafa Salari Rad decided to zoom in on a leading psychology journal to better understand the field’s WEIRD problem, evaluate whether things are improving, and come up with some possible changes in practice that could help spur things along.

    For their paper, nicely titled, “Toward a psychology of Homo sapiens: Making psychological science more representative of the human population,” Rad and his colleagues pulled two samples of articles published in Psychological Science: all articles published in 2014, and the last three issues from 2017. Unfortunately for the field of psychology, they found little evidence to suggest that Psychological Science, published by the US-based Association for Psychological Science, has addressed the WEIRD problem.

    Looking at the participant groups in the subset of the 2014 articles in which authors included demographic information, “57.76% were drawn from the US, 71.25% were drawn from English-speaking countries (including the US and UK), and 94.15% … sampled Western countries (including English-speaking countries, Europe, and Israel).” The 2017 numbers weren’t much better.

    So there’s clearly a problem. But, Rad’s team added, “[p]erhaps the most disturbing aspect of our analysis was the lack of information given about WEIRDness of samples, and the lack of consideration given to issues of cultural diversity in bounding the conclusions”. That is, the articles they examined all too often omitted information that could help other researchers note WEIRDness when it occurs, and all too often explicitly over-extrapolated findings drawn from WEIRD samples. Summing up these problems in the 2014 sample, Rad and his colleagues said: “Over 72% of abstracts contained no information about the population sampled, 83% of studies did not report analysis of any effects of the diversity of their sample (e.g., gender effects), over 85% of studies neglected to discuss the possible effects of culture and context on their findings, and 84% failed to simply recommend studying the phenomena concerned in other cultures, implying that the results indicated something generalizable to humans outside specific cultural contexts.”

    The authors don’t just grumble about the problem – they offer some concrete potential fixes based on their findings:

    “Required Reporting of Sample Characteristics” — It’s already the norm to report the gender breakdowns of experimental samples; Rad and his colleagues think that authors should be “required to report [other characteristics including] age, SES, ethnicity, religion, and nationality,” when it is practical and realistic to do so.

    “Explicitly Tie Findings to Populations” — Less “We discovered X about people”, and more “We discovered X about a small group of undergraduates with the following demographic characteristics in New Haven, Connecticut.”

    “Justify the Sampled Population” — Authors should have to explain why they chose the population they chose – and sometimes, as Rad et al note, yes, the answer will be convenience. That’s fine, within reason: The problem isn’t that college students are studied sometimes, it’s that they’re studied far too often.

    “Discuss generalisability of the Finding” – Similar to the point about populations above, the idea is simply that authors should explicitly discuss whether they expect a given finding will generalise beyond the experimented-upon population, and why.

    “Analytical Investigation of Existing Diversity” – Even WEIRD samples often have some degree of diversity to them along certain dimensions, so here Rad and his colleagues are suggesting that authors check for the presence of diversity-related moderators, both gender (which is already reported, usually) and other characteristics like race (which often aren’t). In other words, even if your experimental sample is mostly WEIRD, it could be informative to check whether, for example, the small handful of black participants produced different data than the rest of the group.

    Recommendations for editors and reviewers

    “Non-WEIRD = Novel and Important” – “Journal editors should instruct reviewers to treat non-WEIRDness as a marker of the interest and importance of a paper.”

    “Diversity Badges” – Some journals already award “badges” when authors pre-register or engage in other open-science best-practices. Badges for research centered on under-studied populations could be a nice little incentive-nudge.

    “Diversity Targets” – It would be reasonable, argue the authors, to have at least 50 per cent of published papers analyse non-WEIRD populations. Ideally, it would be higher, but as the numbers above show the situation at the moment is pretty dire, 50 per cent would be a major improvement.


    The above suggestions provide a solid jumping-off-point for solving the WEIRD problem: Any one of them could be debated, discussed, and potentially modified or implemented. The next step, then, will be to see whether journals – the most important deciders when it comes scientific standard – will take up the mantle.

    At the risk of getting overly meta-psychological – discussing the psychological science of how psychological science is conducted – a great deal of human behaviour can be boiled down to the path of least resistance and to incentives. Often it’s not a deep-seated bias or a lack of concern about other groups that causes researchers to overlook non-WEIRD samples (though I’m sure both are sometimes factors), but rather it’s because college students are right there. As in, literally in the same buildings as the ones where most psych researchers work. You can just put up some flyers, and boom, you have a group you can experiment on! It’s all too tempting. And it’ll take some incentive-shifting – shifts to editors’ behaviour, or the possibility of earning badges, or whatever else – to get researchers out of their WEIRD rut.

    Toward a psychology of Homo sapiens: Making psychological science more representative of the human population

    Post written by Jesse Singal (@JesseSingal) for the BPS Research Digest. Jesse is a contributing writer at New York Magazine. He is working on a book about why shoddy behavioral-science claims sometimes go viral for Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 10, 2018 10:16 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    NeuroFedora update: week 49

    In week 49:

    There is a lot of software available in NeuroFedora already. You can see the complete list here on Fedora SCM. Software that is currently being worked on is listed on our Pagure project instance. If you use software that is not on our list, please suggest it to us using the suggestion form.

    Feedback is always welcome. You can get in touch with us here.

    in Ankur Sinha on December 09, 2018 03:05 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    These are our favorite science books of 2018

    Science News writers and editors pick which science books were this year’s must-reads.

    in Science News on December 09, 2018 02:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The Psychology of Memory and the 2016 Election

    An intriguing new study uses the 2016 US Presidential election as a tool to examine the organization of human memory. The results show that events that occur around the same time are linked in memory. Remembering one past event tends to trigger the recall of other memories from that time. This chronological clustering makes intuitive sense, but it's a theory that's been debated in psychology for a while, under the name of the temporal-contiguity effect (TCE). According to the authors of th

    in Discovery magazine - Neuroskeptic on December 09, 2018 01:43 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Weekend reads: Prominent doctors who don’t disclose conflicts, and the journals that enable them; a “nudge” study faces scrutiny

    Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance. The week at Retraction Watch featured two new names on our leaderboard, vindication for The Joy … Continue reading Weekend reads: Prominent doctors who don’t disclose conflicts, and the journals that enable them; a “nudge” study faces scrutiny

    in Retraction watch on December 08, 2018 04:01 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The Loss-Calibrated Bayesian

    By Farhan Damani In lab meeting this week, we discussed loss-calibrated approximate inference in the context of Bayesian decision theory (Lacoste-Julien et. al. 2011, Cobb et. al. 2018). For many applications, the cost of an incorrect prediction can vary depending … Continue reading

    in Pillow Lab on December 07, 2018 08:42 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Magnets make a new soft metamaterial stiffen up in a flash

    Scientists can dial the stiffness of a bizarre new type of synthetic material up or down using magnets.

    in Science News on December 07, 2018 07:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A gut-brain link for Parkinson’s gets a closer look

    Early evidence suggests that Parkinson’s may be a gut disease that affects the brain.

    in Science News on December 07, 2018 02:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

    We’ve seen plagiarizers plagiarizing plagiarizers, but here’s what seems to be a first: A journal has retracted an article that duplicated text…from a paper that had been retracted for containing dubious data. The Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science published the recycled paper, titled “Development and in vitro-in vivo characterization of chronomodulated multi-particulate drug delivery system of … Continue reading Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

    in Retraction watch on December 07, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Two new books explore the science and history of the 1918 flu pandemic

    One-hundred years after the Spanish flu, ‘Pandemic 1918’ and ‘Influenza’ provide a new look at the global outbreak.

    in Science News on December 07, 2018 12:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Self-explanation is a powerful learning technique, according to meta-analysis of 64 studies involving 6000 participants

    GettyImages-488660846.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    It is better to ask a student to see if they can explain something to themselves, than for a teacher or book to always explain it to them. That’s according to a new meta-analysis of the findings from 64 prior studies involving nearly 6000 participants that compared learning outcomes from prompted self-explanation compared to instructor explanation, or compared to time spent using other study techniques such as taking notes, summarising, thinking out loud (without the reflection and elaboration involved in self-explanation), or solving more problems.

    The authors of the meta-analysis, published recently in Educational Psychology Review, say that self-explanation is a powerful learning strategy because learners “generate inferences about causal connections and conceptual relationships that enhance understanding”. The process of self-explanation also helps the learner realise what they don’t know, “to fill in missing information, monitor understanding, and modify fusions of new information with prior knowledge when discrepancies or deficiencies are detected”.

    Past research already established that more effective learners are more inclined to self-explain spontaneously. The meta-analysis confirms that, importantly, prompted self-explanation is also beneficial. Overall, Kiran Bisra and her team at Simon Fraser University found that when students are prompted to self-explain (usually this is in written form, though a few studies involved spoken self-explanation) this improves their learning outcomes with an average effect size of 0.55 (using Hedge’s g), which in a learning context is impressive – “a potentially powerful” intervention in the authors’ words, similar in effectiveness to “mastery learning” and “peer tutoring”.

    Self-explanation was more effective than instructor explanation (explanation given by a teacher or teaching materials), but instructor explanation was better than no explanation, which suggests that part of the benefit of self-explanation comes from the content (which could be provided elsewhere) while a second aspect comes from the unique process of generating an explanation oneself (prompting the student to recognise links between the knowledge or skills they’ve learned, and allowing them to identity and address gaps in their understanding).

    The researchers checked and the benefits of self-explanation are not due to the technique simply leading to more time being spent in study, though the researchers said more investigations do need to do a better job of controlling for this confound.

    The researchers also looked to see if any particular aspects of the practice of self-explanation make a difference to its effectiveness. They found some limited evidence that a multiple-choice format (in which the student chooses a range of explanations from a list) to be the least effective, perhaps because it lacks the self-generated elaboration that is usually involved in more open-ended self-explanation.

    On this last point, the researchers suggested that the ideal degree of guidance and prompting (such as whether learners are cued to self-explain specific concepts or left to choose) may depend on their proficiency: as students develop their knowledge and skill, the more freedom to choose what and how they self-explain, the better.

    Regarding other factors – such as, the timing of the self-explanation in the learning process; the kind of self-explanation that was elicited (such as justifying an argument or explaining a concept); the nature of the to-be-learned material; the subject matter; and how knowledge was subsequently tested – the researchers found little evidence that any of this made much difference to the benefit of self-explanation. One exception was that it was generally less effective when students were asked to self-explain their own state of knowledge and understanding (a form of so-called “meta-cognitive explanation”), which is logical because this would not involve the student elaborating on and forming connections among the to-be-learned material.

    Bisra and her colleagues said that a “major implication” of their findings was that “…beneficial effects of inducing self-explanation seem to be available for most subject areas studied in school, and for both conceptual (declarative) and procedural knowledge.”

    The results of this meta-analysis provide an encouraging and straightforward take-away for learners and teachers alike. Just one gripe: I would have liked to see more detailed discussion of the exact kinds of other study technique that self-explanation was compared against, to better identify any unique “ingredients” that make self-explanation apparently so effective. In fairness, Bisra and her colleagues recognise this knowledge gap, concluding: “There is now a need for clearer mapping of the unique cognitive benefits self-explanation may promote, the specific effects of different types of self-explanations and prompts, and how self-explanation might be optimally combined and sequenced with other instructional features such as extended practice, explanation modeling, and inquiry-based learning.”

    Inducing Self-Explanation: a Meta-Analysis

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 07, 2018 11:48 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Global carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high in 2018

    Carbon dioxide emissions from China, the United States and India all rose this year, a new report finds.

    in Science News on December 06, 2018 11:09 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The uterus may play a role in memory

    In lab tests, rats that underwent hysterectomies had worse spatial memories.

    in Science News on December 06, 2018 07:02 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Volcanic eruptions that depleted ocean oxygen may have set off the Great Dying

    Massive eruptions from volcanoes spewing greenhouse gases 252 million years ago may have triggered Earth’s biggest mass extinction.

    in Science News on December 06, 2018 07:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    PLOS Authors Say “Yes” to Preprints

    We’ve surpassed 1,300 preprint posts to bioRxiv!

    This is an incredible milestone for us and for all of our authors who chose to opt-in to our preprint service since we announced our partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s bioRxiv six months ago. We wanted to bring an easy preprint-posting option directly to the submission process for our authors and are thoroughly excited with the results we’ve seen so far.

    The road to preprints

    As we began this journey, about 4% of our authors reported that they had posted their submission to a preprint server. While this base remains consistent, our preprint-posting service has built upon it to offer authors more choices. In the past six months we’ve seen an additional 14% opt-in to have PLOS post a preprint on their behalf, indicating that 18% of our authors want to use preprints to share their research.

    Of course, the opt-in rate varies by discipline. On PLOS Computational Biology 46% of our authors choose to make a preprint of their manuscript available, with half of those posting before submission and the other half requesting PLOS post to bioRxiv on their behalf. In biology in general, the adoption is high. PLOS Biology, which joined the service later, is already showing a promising trend towards preprints by 39% of our authors (23% of which elect to have PLOS post on their behalf).

    Every opt-in we get is screened by editorial staff before posting to ensure the article fits bioRxiv’s scope and that no sensitive information is accidentally shared. We have also taken a conservative approach and avoided posting research that could have an impact on human health before the claims have been peer reviewed, which is why we do not yet offer to post preprints for PLOS Medicine authors. We’re working in partnership with bioRxiv to refine the posting criteria as we learn more about the needs for early sharing in different communities.

    Overall, the openness to new research outputs we’ve seen among our community of authors is inspiring and we hope to see preprint adoption grow even more over the coming year.  


    Author choice

    We like preprints because they put your research first. We’re making it easier for you to choose preprints as a way to rapidly disseminate your research results, establish priority, accumulate citations for your work, and receive input from your community that may help shape the future of your research.

    That said, preprints aren’t for everyone or for every paper which is why authors choose when and how their work becomes available. We’re also listening to our community’s feedback to make our service as inclusive as possible.

    Many of our authors still prefer to wait for peer review before making their results public. However, about a fifth of the authors who responded to a survey about why they had opted out said they are unfamiliar with preprints. We’re hoping to change that by offering everything you need to know at plos.org/preprints. More information about preprints is available on bioRxiv along with their posting guidelines. ASAPbio also offers very useful guidance for preprints, including preprint policy at other journals which may help clarify any concerns you have about submitting a manuscript after you’ve posted a preprint.

    Where we go from here

    We’ll continue learning from our community and sharing more information that helps you make the right decision for your paper. We’re also encouraging other preprint options to authors in areas that don’t fall under bioRxiv’s scope. Both PLOS Genetics and PLOS ONE have dedicated Preprint Editors to solicit submissions from various preprint servers and we’re looking at more opportunities.

    If you’re thinking of posting a preprint for the first time, take advantage of this checklist to get started and review all the benefits preprints could have for your work.


    in The Official PLOS Blog on December 06, 2018 04:55 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Here’s how geckos (almost) walk on water

    New high-speed video reveals how geckos use a hybrid walking-swimming gait in water to reach speeds similar to those on land.

    in Science News on December 06, 2018 04:17 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A 5,000-year-old mass grave harbors the oldest plague bacteria ever found

    DNA from an ancient strain of the plague-causing bacterium could help uncover the origins of the deadly disease.

    in Science News on December 06, 2018 04:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Researchers say they’ve identified two brain networks – one responsible for volition, the other for agency – that together underlie our sense of free will

    GettyImages-937123936.jpgBy Emma Young

    While there’s still a debate about whether we have free will or not, most researchers at least agree that we feel as if we do. That perception is often considered to have two elements: a sense of having decided to act – called “volition”; and feeling that that decision was our own – having “agency”.

    Now in a paper in PNAS, Ryan Darby at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues have used a new technique – lesion network mapping – to identify for the first time the brain networks that underlie our feelings of volition and for agency. “Together, these networks may underlie our perception of free will, with implications for neuropsychiatric diseases in which these processes are impaired,” the researchers write. 

    Darby and his colleagues first mapped the locations of lesions (brain damage) in 28 people with impaired volition (including people with akinetic mutism, for example, who seem to have lost the motivation to move or speak) and in 50 people with an impaired sense of agency (such as people with so-called “alien-hand syndrome” who feel that they are not in control of their own limb movements). 

    Then they looked at which other regions in the brain these various damaged locations typically communicate with (for this they referred to a connectivity map based on scans of 1000 healthy people), to investigate whether or not they all form part of the same network.

    For the patients with disordered volition, while their lesions were in different locations in the brain, all 28 were part of a single brain network that connected to the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a part of the brain already understood by neuroscientists to be involved in the motivation, planning and control of voluntary movements. 

    Meanwhile, for the people whose brain lesions were causing disordered agency, again, “while the lesions themselves were spatially diverse, mapping showed that… 90 per cent fell within a single brain network defined by functional connectivity to the precuneus cortex,” the researchers write. The precuneus has previously been shown to play a role in having a sense of agency. 

    The researchers also looked at lesion connectivity in people with partial paralysis but who retained a sense of volition, and people who made involuntary movements but who continued to feel that they were responsible for these movements (so who had a sense of agency). And they considered the results of studies that have found free will perception can be altered by either electrical or magnetic brain stimulation to particular regions. The results of both types of study supported their identification of the ACC-connected network and the precuneus-connected network as being related to volition and to agency, respectively. 

    Next, the researchers looked at brain imaging studies of people with psychiatric disorders that have been conceptualised – at least by some researchers – as disorders of free will (affecting volition, agency or both). This includes patients with catatonia, who don’t move or respond though they look to be awake, and cases of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), which resemble epileptic seizures, but which do not involve the characteristic electrical discharges in the brain. Though these patients did not have specific brain lesions, the researchers looked for any brain regions where there was reduced function and in 85 per cent of cases these were part of the volition and/or agency networks.

    So, perhaps damage to a node on the agency or volition network affects the functioning of the precuneus or the ACC, the researchers write – or perhaps volition and agency depend on all nodes in their networks working well. Either, or both, could be the case, and could help guide future investigations, diagnosis and therapeutic interventions. 

    There are some important caveats in relation to this research, however. One of the biggest questions has to be around the interpretation of some of the neuropsychiatric disorders. For instance, it’s unclear exactly what’s going wrong in people with akinetic mutism and catatonia. Have they really lost the will to move or speak – their “volition”, as the researchers interpreted it – or is it rather the case that they experience problems with initiating a movement that they actually want to make? In which case, perhaps what the researchers have identified as a “volition network” is actually more about movement execution than volition (this would be consistent with prior research that’s found the ACC – which remember is a key part of the purported “volition network” – is involved in the planning and control of movements as well as the motivation to make them).

    Also, as the researchers note, even if they have identified a volition network, it may not relate to free will as it’s commonly understood – in terms of social, legal and moral responsibility for decisions. “It remains unknown whether the network of brain regions we identify as related to free will for movements is the same as that important for moral decision making, as prior studies have suggested important differences.”

    Scholarly debate about free will has been raging for at least a few thousand years. It’s certainly not over yet. 

    Lesion network localization of free will

    Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 06, 2018 02:40 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Western blot loading control libraries and beyond

    Too many scientists defend the practice of not probing for loading controls for each protein gel. They say a "library" method perfectly suffices, when one separate loading control gel is run once for reference. Such sloppiness can sometimes be a hint of even worse practices taking place.

    in For Better Science on December 06, 2018 01:38 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Researchers retract PNAS paper when they realize they’d been victims of an antibiotic switcheroo

    In March 2017, a group of researchers in Vancouver, along with a colleague in Philadelphia,  published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) concluding that a particular antibiotic might be useful for treating conditions in people with rare mutations. Then, this past July, while continuing the work, they had an … Continue reading Researchers retract PNAS paper when they realize they’d been victims of an antibiotic switcheroo

    in Retraction watch on December 06, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Pea aphid youngsters use piggyback rides to escape a crisis

    When some mammal is about to munch their plant, aphids drop to the ground and youngsters want a ride to safety.

    in Science News on December 06, 2018 01:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Webinar Jan. 9: Revolutionize Pathology Using Artificial Intelligence

    January 9, 2018 • 9am PST/12pm EST/4pm UTC
    30 minutes with 10 minutes live Q&A

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing pathology in both research and in the clinic. Indeed, recent publications have demonstrated accurate, AI-based models to classify skin cancer, quantify prostate tumors, and assess tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs).

    In this 30-minute session, you’ll learn how AI-based pathology can help generate accurate data, and how to rapidly develop and deploy new models using the ImageDx™ image analysis solution.

    You’ll learn:

    • How AI-based pathology can help generate accurate data and advance research
    • How to rapidly develop and deploy new models using the ImageDx™ image analysis solution, a combined training, inference and visualization pathology platform
    • How a growing library of deep learning-trained convolutional neural networks helps identify tissue architectures, specific stains, and tissue artifacts


    About Our Speaker



    in The Science Exchange Blog on December 05, 2018 10:46 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Baboons survive 6 months after getting a pig heart transplant

    A team of German scientists used new methods to successfully transplant genetically modified and fully functioning pig hearts into baboons.

    in Science News on December 05, 2018 06:08 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A controversial sighting of dark matter is looking even shakier

    Two dark matter experiments disagree despite using the same type of detector material.

    in Science News on December 05, 2018 06:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Psychology’s favourite tool for measuring implicit bias is still mired in controversy

    GettyImages-1029463886.jpgA new review aims to move on from past controversies surrounding the implicit association test, but experts can’t even agree on what they’re arguing about

    By guest blogger Jesse Singal

    It has been a long and bumpy road for the implicit association test (IAT), the reaction-time-based psychological instrument whose co-creators, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald — among others in their orbit — claimed measures test-takers’ levels of unconscious social biases and their propensity to act in a biased and discriminatory manner, be that via racism, sexism, ageism, or some other category, depending on the context. The test’s advocates claimed this was a revelatory development, not least because the IAT supposedly measures aspects of an individual’s bias even beyond what that individual was consciously aware of themselves.

    As I explained in a lengthy feature published on New York Magazine’s website last year, many doubts have emerged about these claims, ranging from the question of what the IAT is really measuring (as in, can a reaction-time difference measured in milliseconds really be considered, on its face, evidence of real-world-relevant bias?) to the algorithms used to generate scores to, perhaps most importantly (given that the IAT has become a mainstay of a wide variety of diversity training and educational programmes), whether the test really does predict real-world behaviour.   

    On that last key point, there is surprising agreement. In 2015 Greenwald, Banaji, and their coauthor Brian Nosek stated that the psychometric issues associated with various IATs “render them problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination”. Indeed, these days IAT evangelist and critic alike mostly agree that the test is too noisy to usefully and accurately gauge people’s likelihood of engaging in discrimination — a finding supported by a series of meta-analyses showing unimpressive correlations between IAT scores and behavioral outcomes (mostly in labs). Race IAT scores appear to account for only about 1 per cent of the variance in measured behavioural outcomes, reports an important meta-analysis available in preprint, co-authored by Nosek. (That meta-analysis also looked at IAT-based interventions, finding that while implicit bias as measured by the IAT “is malleable… changing implicit bias does not necessarily lead to changes in explicit bias or behavior.”)

    So where does this leave the IAT? In a new paper in Current Directions in Psychological Science called “The IAT Is Dead, Long Live The Iat: Context-Sensitive Measures of Implicit Attitudes Are Indispensable to Social and Political Psychology”, John Jost, a social psychologist at New York University and a leading IAT researcher, seeks to draw a clear line between the “dead” diagnostic-version of the IAT, and what he sees as the test’s real-world version – a sensitive, context-specific measure that shouldn’t be used for diagnostic purposes, but which has potential in various research and educational contexts.

    Does this represent a constructive manifesto for the future of this controversial psychological tool? Unfortunately, I don’t think it does – rather, it contains many confusions, false claims, and strawman arguments (as well as a misrepresentation of my own work). Perhaps most frustrating, Jost joins a lengthening line of IAT researchers who, when faced with the fact that the IAT appears to have been overhyped for a long time by its creators, most enthusiastic proponents, and by journalists, responds with an endless variety of counterclaims that don’t quite address the core issue itself, or which pretend those initial claims were never made in the first place.

    Take this section, in which, referencing a number of papers, Jost writes that,

    It is often claimed that the IAT simply measures familiarity with or awareness of cultural stereotypes rather than personal animus… [T]he question of whether implicit attitudes reflect personal preferences as opposed to social and cultural processes is ill-posed. (We also know from decades of research on the “mere-exposure effect” that familiarity breeds liking, so there is no reason to assume that familiarity and attitudinal evaluation should be unrelated.)

    This is such a confusing paragraph that it’s hard to know where to start. Jost seems to be arguing that the “mere exposure effect”, the general principle that people like familiar things and people more than unfamiliar things and people, should be applied to the critique that the IAT might be measuring familiarity with stereotypes rather than endorsement of them. By his (apparent) logic, because of the mere exposure effect, people who are more familiar with stereotypes are more likely to endorse them, so it doesn’t matter if the IAT is really “just” measuring familiarity – idea-familiarity and idea-endorsement are inextricably bound.

    Of course, if social psychologists really believed this, they would seek to halt educational programmes that teach children about ugly racial stereotypes out of a fear that the children will, on average, become more racist as a result of this exposure. Luckily, in the real world, the evidence suggests this is a rather radical overstretching of the idea of the mere exposure effect. To take one of countless examples, in the US, Democrats are exceedingly aware of the fact that some Republicans view Mexican migrants as disproportionately criminal – that does not make them more likely to endorse that belief themselves. Mere exposure is powerful in some contexts, but not this one.

    So the question of whether the IAT measures something that can be fairly called animus, in the sense of being a preference (in this case, an unconscious one) for one group over another, rather than familiarity with stereotypes, is anything but “ill-posed”. For a long time, people have been told that their test score reflects the former – that they have “implicit bias”. Outside of Jost’s confusing paragraph, no one anywhere would suggest that the definition of “implicit bias” is the same as the definition of “awareness of certain stereotypes.” If the test is claiming to measure one thing when it is really measuring the other, or a mix of the two (I’ve always thought it’s more likely the test is measuring a complicated mix of stuff than that it’s measuring A or B or C, full-stop), of course that’s an important issue to resolve.

    Jost’s paper also includes at least one rather misleading claim. In the third paragraph of his article, he writes that “In an especially absurd comparison, the IAT was likened to measuring height with a stack of melting ice cubes.” The citation points to my NY Mag article. In fact, Jost mentions height measurement three times in the paper and in the abstract, he critiques “false analogies between the IAT and measures… [like] physical height”.

    But I never “likened” the IAT to any measure of height! Rather, in a section of my article explaining to my lay readers the term test-retest reliability, I used ice cubes as an example to illustrate the concept: “A tape measure has high test-retest reliability because if you measure someone’s height, wait two weeks, and measure it again, you’ll get very similar results,” I wrote. “The measurement procedure of grabbing an ice cube from your freezer and seeing how many ice cubes tall your friend is would have much lower test-retest reliability, because different ice cubes might be of different sizes; it’s easier to make errors when counting how many ice cubes tall your friend is; and so forth.” It’s true that later in the article I note that the available evidence suggests the race IAT has low test-retest reliability, but that’s of course not the same as directly comparing — likening — the IAT to a measure of height.

    As I mentioned, though, the biggest worry with this new review paper is that Jost is rewriting history a bit. Nowhere is this clearer than when he argues that “As a ‘bona fide’ pipeline used to quantify levels of ‘unconscious racism’ as a fixed property of the individual—or as a diagnostic tool to classify people as ‘having’ racism or sexism (like they might ‘have’ clinical depression)—the IAT is dead. I do not know if any researchers of implicit bias actually conceived of the IAT in these ways, but critics continue to assert that this is our conception (Bartlett, 2017; Mitchell & Tetlock, 2017; Singal, 2017). It certainly is not mine.”

    But of course evangelists of the IAT have been treating it as a diagnostic tool. Here’s Banaji and Greenwald in Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People:

    [T]he automatic White preference expressed on the Race IAT is now established as signaling discriminatory behavior. It predicts discriminatory behavior even among research participants who earnestly (and, we believe, honestly) espouse egalitarian beliefs. That last statement may sound like a self-contradiction, but it’s an empirical truth. Among research participants who describe themselves as racially egalitarian, the Race IAT has been shown, reliably and repeatedly, to predict discriminatory behavior that was observed in the research.

    Here’s Greenwald, in an email, to Quartz’s Olivia Goldhill last year: “The IAT can be used to select people who would be less likely than others to engage in discriminatory behavior.”

    Now, to be clear there have been mixed messages on this front. The quote to Quartz was a serious flip-flop, as I noted at the time, when stood up against the 2015 paper in which Greenwald and Banaji acknowledged the test’s weaknesses. But either way, it’s almost impossible to square Jost’s claim that he isn’t aware of anyone who has claimed the IAT measures “‘unconscious racism’ as a fixed property of the individual[…] or as a diagnostic tool to classify people as ‘having’ racism or sexism” with the fact that two of his coauthors have claimed that the IAT can predict individuals’ likelihood of engaging in discriminatory behavior.  

    Being charitable, I suppose there’s wiggle room with the word “fixed”.  But in the initial hyping of the IAT, its evangelists definitely promoted the idea that what it was measuring was, if not “fixed,” at the very least stable – you will not find much circa-2005 coverage of the IAT in which the test’s proponents highlight IAT results as fluid and easily manipulated. In fact, in the [1998] University of Washington press release covering the IAT’s unveiling, the author notes that while “Banaji and Greenwald admitted being surprised and troubled by their own test results, they believe the test ultimately can have a positive effect despite its initial negative impact. The same test that reveals these roots of prejudice has the potential to let people learn more about and perhaps overcome these disturbing inclinations.” Why would this be an issue if the test wasn’t being promoted as measuring something stable that an individual could only “perhaps overcome”?  In 2005, Banaji went further, telling the Washington Post she was ‘deeply embarrassed’ at her test result – but why would she be unless she considered the IAT was measuring something stable about herself? There’s a whole subgenre of anecdotes in which individuals reveal their discomfort at their IAT results. That doesn’t jibe with the idea that it has historically been viewed as a noisy, extremely context-dependent measure.

    The goalposts are ever-shifting. Or maybe the better term is motte and bailey, the fallacy of advancing an argument you can’t justify with evidence, and then, when called on to do so, retreating to a much less controversial position. Bailey: The IAT predicts individuals’ levels of unconscious bias (or racism, if you will), and therefore their future behavior. Then, after the convincing methodological critiques and underwhelming meta-analyses roll in, motte: We never said the IAT predicts individuals’ levels of unconscious bias/racism — rather, as Jost puts it, “[I]f the IAT measures a particular attitude at a given time in a specific social context, there is nothing inherently problematic (or unethical) about providing people with feedback concerning that attitude measurement, recognising that it is, after all, only one measurement at one point in time.”

    Setting aside that this clearly wasn’t how the test was presented to the millions of people who have taken it on the Harvard Implicit website and in diversity trainings and in other settings,, it’s a confusing claim: What is the “social context” of taking an IAT? It’s hard, in fact, to come up with a more decontextualized social-psychological experimental experience. You’re sitting at a computer, pecking at keys, not engaging in any interaction with another human being. Now, often IAT results are correlated with how people behave in certain (mostly quite canned) social contexts, but the vast bulk of the IAT research does not measure people’s “attitude at a given time in a given social context.” Or that hasn’t been the claim, at least.

    The point is this: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t portray a test as revolutionary, mention it in the same breath as the discovery of the telescope, suggest it offers new racial insights on the order of Michelle Alexander’s or Ta-Nehisi Coates’ (as claimed in an email from one of Banaji’s students that she forwarded to the Quartz reporter Goldhill), and claim it does this and that and the other thing – and then pretend you never said those things. It’s just such a worst-case example of science communications, and on a vitally important subject, no less. This whole debate has been quite demoralising.

    The IAT Is Dead, Long Live the IAT: Context-Sensitive Measures of Implicit Attitudes Are Indispensable to Social and Political Psychology

    (Dec 6, 2018, update: Nicholas Shackel pointed out in a comment, correctly, that I flipped “motte” and “bailey” in my example, so that’s been fixed. See his 2014 blog post for more on “motte and bailey doctrines.”)

    Post written by Jesse Singal (@JesseSingal) for the BPS Research Digest. Jesse is a contributing writer at New York Magazine. He is working on a book about why shoddy behavioral-science claims sometimes go viral for Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 05, 2018 04:15 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The Joy of Cooking, vindicated: Journal retracts two more Brian Wansink papers

    In February of this year, the Joy of Cooking launched what you could call an epic Twitter stream. Inspired by Stephanie Lee’s reporting in BuzzFeed on Brian Wansink — the food marketing researcher at Cornell who later resigned following findings of misconduct by the university — the legendary cookbook pointed out all that was wrong … Continue reading The Joy of Cooking, vindicated: Journal retracts two more Brian Wansink papers

    in Retraction watch on December 05, 2018 01:27 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Astronomers find far-flung wind from a black hole in the universe’s first light

    The detection of black hole winds far from their host galaxy could reveal details of how galaxies and black holes grow up together.

    in Science News on December 05, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Seeking a panacea in the gut’s microbiome

    Editor in Chief Nancy Shute discusses the potential role of the gut microbiome in Parkinson's disease and one reporter's connection to the story.

    in Science News on December 05, 2018 10:15 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Readers inquire about a Neptune-sized moon, nuclear pasta and more

    Readers had questions about a Neptune-sized moon, nuclear pasta and the search for extraterrestrial life.

    in Science News on December 05, 2018 10:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    In a first, a woman with a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor gives birth

    After receiving a uterus from a deceased donor, a woman gave birth to a healthy girl in December of 2017.

    in Science News on December 04, 2018 11:30 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Scientists’ collection of gravitational waves just got a lot bigger

    The biggest black hole merger yet seen created one set of the spacetime ripples.

    in Science News on December 04, 2018 06:19 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Pair of nanotech researchers up to at least two dozen retractions

    A pair of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) has had a total of nine more papers retracted, pushing their totals to 24 and 26, respectively. The totals put the two researchers — Rashmi Madhuri, with 24 retractions, and Prashant Sharma, with 26 — on our leaderboard of the 30 … Continue reading Pair of nanotech researchers up to at least two dozen retractions

    in Retraction watch on December 04, 2018 05:38 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    NeuroFedora: a ready to use Free/Open source platform for neuroscientists

    In this seminar, I introduce the NeuroFedora initiative to the group. I explain our goals, our philosophy, our methods, our current state and, solicit feedback on our work.

    The (current) goal of the NeuroFedora SIG is to provide a ready to use platform for neuroscientists. We aim to do this by making commonly used Neuroscience software easily installable on a Fedora Linux system.

    Neuroscience is an extremely multidisciplinary field. It brings together mathematicians, chemists, biologists, physicists, psychologists, engineers (electrical and others), computer scientists, and more. A lot of software is used nowadays in Neuroscience for:

    • data collection, analysis, and sharing.
    • image processing (a lot of ML is used here, think Data Science).
    • simulation of brain networks (NEURON, Nest, Moose, PyNN, Brian).
    • dissemination of scientific results (peer reviewed and otherwise, think LaTeX).

    Given that a large proportion of neuroscientists are not trained in computer science, a lot of resources are spent setting up systems, installing software (often building whole dependency chains from source). This can be especially hard for people not well-versed in software development and related fields.

    So, at NeuroFedora, we aim to enable Neuroscience research by providing a ready to use Fedora based system for researchers to work with. NeuroFedora is Free software and is therefore free to all to use, modify, study, and share.

    Date: 07/12/2018
    Time: 16:00
    Location: D120

    in UH Biocomputation group on December 04, 2018 01:39 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Rebel honeybee workers lay eggs when their queen is away

    A honeybee queen’s absence in the colony triggers some workers to turn queen-like and lay eggs, sometimes in other colonies.

    in Science News on December 04, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A new review looks into the optimum exercise intensity, type and duration for boosting mood

    giphyBy Christian Jarrett

    It’s well-known that physical exercise is beneficial not just to physical health but also our mental health. Yet whereas most countries have detailed, evidence-backed guidelines on the type and intensity of exercise required for various physical health benefits, such guidelines do not yet exist for exercise and mood. This is partly due to a lack of necessary evidence. However, a new systematic review in The Journal of Psychology Interdisciplinary and Applied brings us usefully up-to-date on the current findings in this area, collating evidence from 38 relevant studies that examined the associations between exercise intensity, duration and modality and any effects on mood.

    Before dipping into some of the key take-aways, an important distinction made in the review is between aerobic exercise and anaerobic. The former involves such things as walking, jogging and cycling and means exercising in such a way that your body is able to use oxygen to burn fat for energy. In contrast, anaerobic exercise – such as lifting heavy weights or sprinting – is of such vigorous intensity that your body does not have time to use oxygen to create energy and so instead it breaks down glucose in your blood or muscles.

    Beginning first with the influence of exercise intensity on the mood benefits of aerobic exercise, the researchers, led by John Chan at Shenzhen University, found contradictory results from 19 relevant studies. Some favoured higher intensity, others low, while seven studies found that intensity made no difference to mood benefits.

    In relation to the intensity of anaerobic exercise, however, the results were far clearer – the optimum for improving mood is moderate intensity, perhaps because low intensity is too dull while high intensity is too unpleasant.

    Next, Chan’s team considered exercise duration. The main finding here was that 10 minutes often appears sufficient to achieve gains in mood (although one study found that 30 minutes was required to achieve feelings of increased vigour). Overall, there was little evidence that going beyond 30 minutes leads to any further gains in mood, which is good to know for anyone who struggles to find much time for exercise in their daily schedule.

    Finally, the researchers considered studies that have compared the mood benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise (they noted that mindfulness-based physical exercise, such as Yoga and Thai-Chi, have also shown promise for boosting mood, but that there is too little evidence to draw any firm conclusions). The picture here was that the beneficial mood effects of aerobic exercise are less consistent than is found with anaerobic exercise, and anaerobic exercise appears especially to be more beneficial for beating stress and anxiety (the researchers suggested this may be because with many forms of anaerobic exercise, such as weight training, it is easier to see your progress, leading to more immediate, rewarding feelings of mastery; also anaerobic exercise is associated with increases in BDNF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor – which may help foster beneficial structural and functional changes in the brain).

    These headline results from several decades of research come with some hefty caveats. The studies were mostly lab based, used different ways of measuring intensity, and they recruited extremely varied volunteers. You can easily imagine how study findings could differ a lot depending on people’s past experience with exercise, their age and health, and even their personality and interests.

    This makes it difficult to extrapolate from the findings to our own lives. However, when reflecting on the optimum type of exercise for your own mood, the common sense message is probably to take into consideration your own fitness level and preferences, to find that sweet spot, such that the exercise is enough of a challenge without being unpleasant.

    Perhaps the most important lesson from this review, though, is that we clearly need much more research into how different types and intensities of exercise affect our mood in real life, and how this varies according to our own characteristics. The sophistication and ubiquity of modern fitness trackers should open up exciting new opportunities for psychology research that can address these questions.

    Therapeutic Benefits of Physical Activity for Mood: A Systematic Review on the Effects of Exercise Intensity, Duration, and Modality

    Image via giphy.com

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 04, 2018 12:27 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Homeopathy business at CNRS in Strasbourg

    A PhD thesis was defended in 2017 at CNRS plant science institute IBMP in Strasbourg, it tested the anti-flu product L52 by the French homeopathy manufacturer Lehning Laboratories. The homeopathic concoction was found very effective, with potential use for human health!

    in For Better Science on December 04, 2018 11:18 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    How some sap-sucking insects fling their pee

    Sharpshooters hurl their pee with structure called a stylus, which sends droplets flying at 20 times the acceleration of Earth’s gravity.

    in Science News on December 04, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    4 ways to drive evidence-based policymaking

    How can we ensure that lawmakers have the knowledge and data to make good decisions? Experts weigh in at APAC conference

    in Elsevier Connect on December 04, 2018 10:21 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has finally arrived at asteroid Bennu

    Planetary scientists hope the probe will reveal if such carbon-rich asteroids helped kick-start life on Earth.

    in Science News on December 03, 2018 07:32 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    The Large Hadron Collider is shutting down for 2 years

    The world’s largest particle accelerator will restart in 2021 at higher energy.

    in Science News on December 03, 2018 06:39 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Former Colorado “golden boy” earns three-year ban on Federal funding

    The U.S. Office of Research Integrity has announced findings of misconduct against a once-promising pharmaceutical scientist at the University of Colorado. The ORI says Rajendra Kadam fabricated data on government grants while working on his PhD at UC Denver under the supervision of Uday Kompella. As we reported in 2015 when this case first broke, … Continue reading Former Colorado “golden boy” earns three-year ban on Federal funding

    in Retraction watch on December 03, 2018 06:35 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    These new tweezers let scientists do biopsies on living cells

    Nanotweezers that can pluck molecules from cells without killing them could enable real-time analysis of the insides of healthy and diseased cells.

    in Science News on December 03, 2018 04:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Newsletter #58


    Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics

    Newsletter - Nº 58 | November 2018

    NeuroMat renewed for a six-year term

    The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), created by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in 2013, has been renewed until July 31, 2024. The renewal has been approved by FAPESP on November 12, 2018, based on a general positive evaluation by an International Assessment Committee in 2017 and the fulfillment of further requests by FAPESP.

    → Read more here

    NeuroMat Facebook Highlights

    NeuroMat team members presented on "Statistics, Social Networks and Elections", at IME-USP, in November

    NeuroMat held in November the workshop "Mathematical and Simulation Modeling in Neuroscience" to discuss the research projects of the NeuroMat Simulation Laboratory (SimLab)

    In early November, Maria Eulalia Vares (IM/UFRJ) led the seminar "Contact process under renewals" at NeuroMat

    Follow our initiatives

    NeuroMat Parkinson Network

    NeuroMat Brachial Plexus Injury Initiative

    On NeuroMat

    NeuroMat is a research center established in 2013 at the University of São Paulo that is dedicated to integrating mathematical modeling and theoretical neuroscience. Among the core missions of NeuroMat are the creation of a new mathematical system to understanding neural data and the development of neuroscientific open-source computational tools. The research center is headed by Prof. Antonio Galves, from USP's Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, and is funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).
    To receive monthly updates on NeuroMat's work or pertaining news, please subscribe to NeuroMat's newsletter: neuromat.numec.prp.usp.br/newsletter/subscriptions

    For more information or press inquiries on NeuroMat, please contact us at: comunicacao@numec.prp.usp.br

    NeuroMat's website: neuromat.numec.prp.usp.br

    Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/neuromathematics. On this FB page we post updates on Neuromathematics, related news, forthcoming events and other pertaining information.

    in NeuroMat on December 03, 2018 01:59 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Sequence analysis – an old/new section in BMC Bioinformatics

    Up to now, BMC Bioinformatics has had one sequence analysis section for methods and another for applications. While the original rationale for having two separate sections made sense at the time the journal was created, in practice we have observed considerable topic overlap between papers that have been published in these two sections. Moreover, from the point of view of evaluating a manuscript’s contribution, we came to the conclusion that the distinction between methods and applications was not really necessary.  The decision has therefore been made to merge these sections into one new section simply called Sequence Analysis.

    Sequence analysis continues to be a vibrant field of research, fueled by the sustained exponential growth in DNA sequence generation. As examples we can cite some current large DNA sequencing-related projects and initiatives. Last year Thompson et al.  reported first results of the Earth Microbiome project, which is sequencing microbiomes in a diverse range of ecological niches. The Human Microbiome Project  on the other hand has been ongoing now for several years. Lewin et al. announced the Earth BioGenome Project earlier this year, which aims to sequence, catalog, and characterize the genomes of all of Earth’s eukaryotic biodiversity within 10 years. And on October 3rd this year, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care announced its plans to sequence five million human genomes in the UK over the next five years. These projects and initiatives highlight the continuing relevance of DNA sequencing in medicine as well as in understanding the Earth’s biodiversity, to name just two potential  areas of application.

    In view of the consequent data deluge, the need to extract scientific as well as practical knowledge from this data is greater than ever. Further research into sequence analysis and novel associated programs and methods is consequently all the more important.

    The UK Department of Health and Social Care has announced its plans to sequence five million human genomes in the UK over the next five years.

    The scope of the new Sequence Analysis section reflects this merge: we look for high-quality manuscripts that present novel algorithms or software/workflows for topics such as sequence alignment, DNA fragment assembly, gene prediction, noncoding RNA detection and analysis, whole genome analysis, phylogeny and phylogenomics, taxonomy classification and genome recovery from metagenome data, among many other possible topics.

    BMC Bioinformatics has other sections that have related scope, in particular Comparative Genomics, Transcriptome Analysis, and the recently launched Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Bioinformatics. Prospective authors of manuscripts that use DNA/RNA sequences or genomes as primary data may submit their work to the Sequence Analysis section, or to whichever section they consider most relevant for their work.

    The post Sequence analysis – an old/new section in BMC Bioinformatics appeared first on BMC Series blog.

    in BMC Series blog on December 03, 2018 01:27 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    A colleague included plagiarized material in your grant proposal. Are you liable?

    Last month, a judge recommended that a former University of Kansas Medical Center professor be banned from Federal U.S. funding for two years. The ban came after an investigation showed that the researcher, Rakesh Srivastava, had submitted a grant application that was heavily plagiarized from someone else’s. But there’s far more to the case, as … Continue reading A colleague included plagiarized material in your grant proposal. Are you liable?

    in Retraction watch on December 03, 2018 01:00 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Dads, not just moms, can pass along mitochondrial DNA

    Data from three families suggest that in rare cases children can inherit mitochondria from their fathers.

    in Science News on December 03, 2018 11:00 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Explaining the power of curiosity – to your brain, hunger for knowledge is much the same as hunger for food

    GettyImages-165918305.jpgBy Christian Jarrett

    Curiosity is a welcome trait in many respects and is the fuel that powers science. Yet literature is filled with fables that warn of the seductive danger of curiosity (think of how Orpheus loses his wife Eurydice forever after he succumbs to the temptation to glimpse at the underworld). In real life too, we all know the regret that can follow if we give in to curiosity – glancing at a private message that we shouldn’t have, for instance; reading a TV review when we know it contains spoilers; or trying out what happens if you put metal in a microwave (tip: don’t).

    From whence does curiosity derive such power over us? One answer lies in the brain. In a pair of brain-imaging studies published as a preprint at bioRxiv – aptly titled Hunger For Knowledge: How The Irresistible Lure of Curiosity Is Generated In the Brain – Johnny King Lau and his colleagues have shown that curiosity appears to be driven by the same neurobiological process as physical hunger.

    The researchers laid the groundwork for their brain-scan research with a small behavioural experiment in which hungry volunteers were shown either magic tricks or pictures of tempting food, and then presented with a lottery wheel. This wheel provided a visual presentation of the odds of a gamble (which varied from trial to trial) – if they won, they would have an increased chance at the end of the experiment to learn how the trick was done or to eat the food; if they lost, it was more likely they would suffer a mild but unpleasant electric shock at the end of the experiment. Each trial the volunteers rated their curiosity about the trick or the desirability of the food, and then chose whether to take the gamble or not.

    The main finding here was that curiosity and hunger both swayed the volunteers’ decision-making. Above and beyond the actual odds on any trial, the volunteers were more likely to take gambles when they were more curious about the magic or more tempted by the food, even at the risk of suffering an electric shock.

    This led Lau and his colleagues to hypothesise that curiosity fuels a physiological wanting or craving, similar to hunger. To test this, they repeated the set-up with more volunteers and this time scanned their brains too. The results showed that, whether influenced by hunger or curiosity, when their participants opted to take the gamble, activity was greater in a key region of the brain known as the striatum, which is known to be associated with motivation and reward. Moreover, when driven to make the gamble, the participants showed a greater disconnect between the striatum and the sensorimotor cortex, indicative perhaps of a discounting of the physical risks of their decision (I would add a caveat: it is always difficult to interpret the functional meaning of brain activity, especially in exploratory work of this kind, so this interpretation should probably be considered tentative).

    Similar findings emerged from a second brain-imaging study in which curiosity was provoked by obscure, intriguing trivia quiz questions rather than by magic (a typical question was “What is the only food that never spoils?”). In this case, if the participants opted to gamble, and won, then they increased their chance of finding out the answer later. Again, opting to gamble to satisfy curiosity, or hunger, was associated with greater activity in the striatum, and a greater disconnect between striatum and sensorimotor cortex.

    Lau’s team said their findings show that “curiosity biases our decision-making by recruiting the same incentive motivation process as extrinsic rewards (e.g. foods).” If you’re curious to find out more, the full paper, which has not yet be finalised, is currently free to view online.

    Hunger for Knowledge: How the Irresistible Lure of Curiosity is Generated in the Brain

    Christian Jarrett (@Psych_Writer) is Editor of BPS Research Digest

    in The British Psychological Society - Research Digest on December 03, 2018 10:23 AM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    NeuroFedora update: week 48

    In week 48:

    Packaging MATLab tool boxes

    The use of MATLab tool boxes is quite common in data-analysis. There's a noticeable movement in the scientific community towards using Python, but the work that has already been done, and the eco-systems that have developed around MATlab will take time to migrate to a Python based eco-system.

    A majority of the tool boxes in use are Free/Open Source, but MATLab itself is not. As supporters of Free/Open source, we will not attempt to include MATLab in Fedora, but the question remains on whether we provide the toolboxes. We've begun discussing this in the SIG, and we'll reach out to the broader Fedora community before we decide on how to proceed.

    Personal views

    Personally, I'd prefer if we only provided software that support Free/Open source eco systems. The use of proprietary software in science, while currently necessary, should be avoided. Yes, it may make things a little harder to start with, but the Free/Open source tools that will be used will be accessible by all. Overtime, just like the Free software community, the eco system will mature.

    A example case is the use of Microsoft products that is common in developed countries where universities can afford their licenses. In developing countries, this is not the case. They cannot always afford these fees. A solution, of course, is to use LaTeX which is free for all to use, extend, study, and share. Similarly, while universities and laboratories in developed countries may be able to pay for MATlab licenses, this financial requirement can hold back others---smaller labs and independent researchers.

    If proprietary tools such as MATlab are the norm, then science is not open to all. It should be.

    (I've signed the Open source for Neuroscience letter that you can read here.)

    There is a lot of software available in NeuroFedora already. You can see the complete list here on Fedora SCM. Software that is currently being worked on is listed on our Pagure project instance. If you use software that is not on our list, please suggest it to us using the suggestion form.

    Feedback is always welcome. You can get in touch with us here.

    in Ankur Sinha on December 02, 2018 03:26 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Weekend reads: Is science self-correcting?; peer review’s “undue emotional burdens;” retractions at Science

    Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance. The week at Retraction Watch featured a dental researcher who is up to 18 pulled papers; … Continue reading Weekend reads: Is science self-correcting?; peer review’s “undue emotional burdens;” retractions at Science

    in Retraction watch on December 01, 2018 02:12 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Intertek Allentown Joins Science Exchange to Offer Online Access to Custom Analytical Testing Services

    Science Exchange, the world’s leading marketplace for R&D services, announces a collaboration with Intertek Allentown to offer online access to its custom analytical testing services, including polymer characterization, contaminant analysis, surface characterization, and more to scientists around the globe.

    Intertek Allentown is a Lehigh Valley, PA-based chemical and material testing company whose mission is to enable customers to make better decisions with high quality data and solutions.

    Explore their services listed on the Intertek Allentown Provider Profile.

    About Intertek Allentown

    Intertek Allentown, an ISO 17025 facility, focuses on custom analytical testing. Using their suite of specialized instrumentation, they conduct analyses for various industries, including medical device, pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Intertek scientists are experts in their fields and experienced in high level problem-solving. As a leading provider of analytical expertise, they provide answers and create solutions.

    In association with the Intertek global laboratory network, they can access additional world-class expertise and resources to support client needs. 

    “We are proud to team up with Science Exchange to offer end-to-end chemical and material analytical testing services to our medical device and pharmaceutical customers. Our capabilities and solutions help customers improve and enhance discovery, scale-up, troubleshooting and process monitoring activities. Integrated problem-solving is an important client benefit due to the breadth of tools and experience we have available at Intertek Allentown. We stay on the cutting edge by developing new methods for emerging needs, and customized measurement approaches for each environment. These attributes make Intertek Allentown a valuable partner with Intertek Pharmaceuticals, as together we address our customers challenges and opportunities”,
    Dr. Paula McDaniel
    Business Development Director at Intertek Allentown

    in The Science Exchange Blog on November 30, 2018 08:41 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Will We See "Monstrous" Neuroscience?

    The science story of the past week was the claim from Chinese scientist He Jiankui that he has created gene-edited human babies. Prof. He reports that two twin girls have been born carrying modifications of the gene CCR5, which is intended to protect them against future HIV risk. It's far from clear yet whether the gene-editing that He described has actually taken place - no data has yet been presented.  The very prospect of genetically-modifying human beings has, however, led to widespread c

    in Discovery magazine - Neuroskeptic on November 30, 2018 08:32 PM.

  • Wallabag.it! - Save to Instapaper - Save to Pocket -

    Half the world’s annual rain falls in just 12 days

    Climate change could shorten the time it takes for the world to receive half its annual precipitation from 12 days to 11 by 2100.

    in Science News on November 30, 2018 06:55 PM.