Society

Category archives for Society

On Intelligence and Talent

Probably the dumbest person I’ve ever met in my life was a housemate in grad school. I didn’t do my lab work on campus, so I wasn’t living in a neighborhood where cheap housing was rented to students, but in a place where folks were either genuinely poor, or in the market for very temporary…

Some Follow-Up on Teaching

Yesterday’s Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson struck a chord with a lot of people, and has spread a good distance on social media, which is gratifying. Given the delocalized nature of modern social media, though, it means I’m having essentially the same argument in five different places via different platforms. In the interest of…

An Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Tyson: (I find the faux-familiar thing people do with “open letters” really grating, so I’m not going to presume to call you “Neil” through the following…) First of all, I should probably say “Thanks,” because I’m using some of your material in my class this term– I had them read Stick in the Mud…

Metaphors and Style

Two language-related items crossed in the Information Supercollider today: the first was Tom’s commentary on an opinion piece by Robert Crease and Alfred Goldhaber, the second Steven Pinker on the badness of academic writing. All of them are worth reading, and I only have small dissents to offer here. One is that, unlike Tom and…

On Putting Words in Einstein’s Mouth

Modern media being what it is, I should get out in front of this, so: I am guilty of putting words in Einstein’s mouth. I mean, go watch my TED-Ed video on particles and waves, or just look at the image up top– that very clearly shows Einstein saying words that he probably never said.…

Cash and Respect

The London School of Economics has a report on a study of academic refereeing (PDF) that looked at the effect of incentives on referee behavior. They found that both a “social incentive” (posting the time a given referee took to turn around the papers they reviewed on a web site) and a cash incentive ($100…

Bad Graphics, STEM Diversity Edition

There was a article in Scientific American about diversity in STEM collecting together the best demographic data available about the science and engineering workforce. It’s a useful collection of references, and comes with some very pretty graphics, particularly this one, showing the demographic breakdown of the US population compared to the science and engineering fields:…

Intelligence vs. Priorities

Steven Pinker has a piece at the New Republic arguing that Ivy League schools ought to weight standardized test scores more heavily in admissions. this has prompted a bunch of tongue-clucking about the failures of the Ivy League from the usual suspects, and a rather heated concurrence from Scott Aaronson. That last finally got me…

Fatherhood and Academia

Via a whole bunch of people on social media, there’s a new study of gender roles in academia, which the Washington Post headlines “Study: Male scientists want to be involved dads, but few are”. This is not inaccurate. Some quotes that jumped out at me: “Academic science doesn’t just have a gender problem, but a…

Women of the Arxiv

Over at FiveThirtyEight, they have a number-crunching analysis of the number of papers (co)authored by women in the arxiv preprint server, including a breakdown of first-author and last-author papers by women, which are perhaps better indicators of prestige. The key time series graph is here: This shows a steady increase (save for a brief drop…