Archive for the 'Anger' category

Capriati is the only one making sense on Sharapova's cheating

Mar 08 2016 Published by under Anger, Doping

Read this.

The question is not about whether Maria Sharapova should have known meldonium was added to the banned list for 2016.

The question is why she has been taking this since the age of 16 for an "abnormal EKG" diagnosed by her personal physician.

MLB players have *astonishingly* high rates of adult ADHD which requires treatment with amphetamines.

Pro cyclists are cursed, apparently, with almost universal asthma, requiring bronchodilator use.

Medical exemptions and dubious diagnoses from personal physicians are severely abused ways to get around doping bans and Rx-only regulations.

It's still cheating.

23 responses so far

"omg science is totally brokenz!" always, always comes back to the same thing. always.

Feb 17 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Anger

i.e., "I'm better than the riffraff and now that I feel a tiny tinge of their pain it proves the entire system is broken".

Respected neuroscientist Leslie Vosshall has joined with Michael Eisen in the latest "science needs to be torn down and rebuilt" crusades.

This time it is over pre-print archives. These two think we all should submit manuscripts to some sort of public repository before submitting them to journals for publication.

Whee! Unicorns!

Someone kindly forwarded me a link to a puff-piece / character assassination on Professor Vosshall. I phrase it like that because, well, eye of the beholder, eh?

As a teenager in the early 1980s, Leslie Vosshall spent her summers in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “My uncle is a scientist and he’d rent a lab there,” she says. “He always needed someone to come and do the glassware. It was a plum job, generally handed out via the nepotistic network...

cue privilege...

“I was widely viewed as the most pathetic graduate student. I had no hint of any success for the first 6 years of my PhD..... Two years went by, then three, then four. The more vocal people in and around the lab told me I should just give up and go to law school.” ....“The litany of failures goes on and on.... “I can’t say I was the greatest experimentalist in the world. I made great cDNA libraries and I was really good at manual Sanger sequencing. But these techniques are now extinct. So it’s probably best I’m no longer at the bench.”

umm. okay. so how...?

Then her lab mates identified another mutation, in a gene called timeless, which also alters the flies’ circadian rhythms. Vosshall found that in timeless mutants,....Vosshall joined Richard Axel’s lab ...Then the Drosophila genome was sequenced and we teamed up with some bioinformaticists, also at Columbia. They sifted through the genome looking for all membrane proteins—and that’s how we found them. It was an 11th-hour save. When we went back through our freezers, which were filled with the thousands of clones we’d made, it turns out we actually had two of the receptors in our collection......“There have been maybe three moments in my career when I knew that I personally solved something.

Wow. Like I said, quite the character assassination. From a certain point of view. I mean this paints a picture, true or not, of a person of immense privilege who admits to be a crap scientist who never figured out anything on her own, leveraged just-happened-to-be-there in high-flying and no doubt copiously resourced labs into a few nice papers and BAM, off to a career of Glamourousness. Pretty damning.

This is the relevant part though.


“When I started in this business in 2000, if you wrote a good grant you would be funded. This is not the case now. I deal with it by not writing grants. I know it’s stupid and a bit pouty, but I just can’t stand the rejection.” And she doesn’t care for the current climate of rationing. Vosshall, now an HHMI investigator, had an NSF grant turned down in 2006—despite receiving near-perfect scores. She was later told that grants with lower scores were given priority because she had other sources of funding, where the other labs did not. “That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Is that how we run professional sports? ‘Let’s let this guy pitch. He’s not as good, but he hasn’t had a chance recently.’ This may work well in elementary school. But it is not how it’s supposed to work in science.”

I was in this business in 2000. The part about writing a good grant and getting funded is, in a word, bullshit. It's a lie and a No-True-Scotsman ploy.

We've been through this before. Her success and ease of launch was based on the Glam papers and the Glam pedigree, not her grant writing. Believe me*. All that changed is that finally, at some point, she started feeling the tiniest bit of reality that was faced by most** scientists.

Those other folks.

Over there.

Who must not write "good" grants and so therefore they deserve what they get. But not her, ooooh no. If she has to face a "rejection" she's going to get all pouty. And instead of feeling grateful for a schweeeet HHMI dealio, complain about how she can't get even MORE support from the NSF (which worries about such things even more than does NIGMS or NIH as a whole if I have it right) it is an outrage. The entitlement just bleeds off this page of The Scientist.

And now, Vosshall is joining up with Michael Eisen to push pre-prints because the process of pushing her work into Glamour journals (7 Cell; 8 Nature; 4 Science of 78 pubs) is just too much work. The rejection (10 Neuron; 2 Nat Neuro tch, tch) must be really annoying. How dare anyone hold her to any sort of account for her offerings?

Clearly science is entirely broken and needs to be revolutionized.

I've convinced myself. This WAS a hit job. Nobody could possibly be this much of an asshole about science careers and their unbelievable run of self-described unearned privilege, could they? Right?


well yeah but when you come from a lab that pumps out the Glam...

too good to Edit now? hmmm.

Now, I'm going to address myself to Professor Eisen, who I think mostly has his heart in the right place. He, Bernie-Sanders-like, wishes to start a popular revolutionary conflagration that will bring his fondest desires to pass. He knows, somewhere deep down, that he needs the masses on his side to make this happen. He walks quite a bit of his talk. Great. Love the apparent intention to make science go forward faster, better and more efficiently.

But dude. Mike. For realz here. You alienate the ever loving shit out of the masses of workaday scientists when you cozy up with privileged, selfish, Glam scientists of the realm who have no intention of making science better and are only after making it better for themselves. This hit job in The Scientist on Vosshall (surely it is, right?)....it describes precisely the kind of person you don't want to hook up with. The image you don't want to hook up with, regardless of the truth in the heart of any particular person (ahem). Because it guarantees you will fail.

Just like hooking up with Glam folks to gain immediate power seduced you into creating PLoS Glams instead of only PLoS ONE guaranteed that particular agenda would fail.

Turn to the Bernie side, Professor Eisen. Do what works for the masses and burn down the entire institution of Glamour science.

It's the only way to achieve your goal.

__
*Trump voice.

**the riffraff

55 responses so far

Look Somewhere Else for Romance

Feb 03 2016 Published by under Anger, Tribe of Science

Sigh.

Once again, my friends, a professor of science has been found to be harassing women underlings.

Actually it was a bit more:

Lieb allegedly made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students on an off-campus retreat in Galena, Ill., and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent,” according to documents acquired by the New York Times.

Yeah, that last part there pretty much makes Jason Lieb a rapist.

 
Then it turns out that the guy had left Princeton rather abruptly:

Yoav Gilad, a molecular biologist at Chicago who was on the committee that advocated hiring Dr. Lieb, said he and his fellow faculty members knew that in February 2014 Dr. Lieb had abruptly resigned from Princeton University, just seven months after having been recruited from the University of North Carolina to run a high-profile genomics institute.

then it gets very foggy:

molecular biologists on the University of Chicago faculty and at other academic institutions received emails from an anonymous address stating that Dr. Lieb had faced allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct at previous jobs at Princeton and the University of North Carolina.

however:

But Dr. Gilad said that when it was contacted, Princeton said there had been no sexual harassment investigation of Dr. Lieb while he was there. He said efforts to find out more about what prompted Dr. Lieb’s departure proved fruitless. A Princeton spokeswoman said the university does not comment on personnel matters.

hmmm. smells a little bit, doesn't it? But no PROOF. Because, no doubt, of the usual. Murky circumstances. Accusations that can't be proved easily. Wagon circling from the institution and lingering doubt that the accuser is telling the truth. We've seen it a million times.

Separately, Dr. Gilad acknowledged, during the interviews of Dr. Lieb, he admitted that he had had a monthslong affair with a graduate student in his laboratory at the University of North Carolina.

Ok, wait, whoa full stop. The dude had an affair with a graduate student IN HIS LAB!

Done. Right there. The vast majority of Universities that have policies at least say you can't have an affair with a student you have a direct supervisory role over.

Hiring committees are not courts of law and applicants do not have a right to be hired. This committee at U of C should have taken a pass as soon as they learned Lieb was screwing his graduate student.

There are a number of problems that we academics need to confront about this.

First, the guy raped an incapacitated grad student at a dept retreat. This has to put some courage into departments to lay down some rules during their retreats. Like maybe, no faculty partying with grad students after official hours, when the other faculty aren't around. Open the retreat with a discussion of harassment, respect and professional behavior like they do at GRCs now. That sort of thing.

Second, what in the hell do we do about these unproven cases in which the guy (it's almost always a man) who keeps jumping institutions leaves a smell of harassment and bad behavior behind him that hasn't been proven or documented?

It's weird, right?

If you take a rec letter from a trusted colleague about a prospective student or postdoc that has the slightest hint of a problem, professional work wise, you take an automatic pass. You move on to the next candidate. Nobody talks about lawyers and proof and how you "have" to hire this particular postdoc or they will sue you for defamation. Yet when it comes to a faculty hire, the stench of misconduct is treated differently. "well, it hasn't been proven! there's no paper trail! Sure he left in a hurry and the old institution ain't talking but its a coincidence! and we can't listen to these rumors from eight of his previous trainees who all tell the same tale, hearsay! we'll be sued for defamation if we choose not to hire him!".

Something is very wrong here.

We're perfectly okay not hiring a candidate because we suspect they won't like our town and will be soon looking to leave. Ok with violating HR rules to sniff around about a two-body problem and refuse to offer a faculty job to such a problem candidate. Underrepresented minorities? Don't even get me started. Women of childbearing age or with a young child? yeah. Our hiring committees do all kinds of inferring and gossiping and not-offering on the basis of suspected factors. Thinly evidenced. Not proven. Actually illegal reasons in some cases.

But when someone is rumoured to be a harasser of women? Geez, we have to bend over backwards to extend him his alleged right to the job.

Something is very wrong here.

People of science? Please. Just. Look. Somewhere. Else. Would. You? Please? Find your romantic entanglements outside of the workplace. Really. It cannot possibly be this difficult.

88 responses so far

The #StayMadAbby case proves the point about perceptions of fairness

Dec 10 2015 Published by under Academics, Anger, Diversity in Science

The other day I was discussing the notion of what is "fair" in majority USian thinking.

In the US, it is considered fair if the very top echelon of the disadvantaged population succeeds at the level of the bottom slice of the advantaged distribution.

And if any individual of the top echelon of the disadvantaged population should happen to achieve up past the middle of the advantaged distribution? Well clearly that is unfair and evidence of reverse discrimination!

I was not familiar with the details of the Abigail Fisher (#StayMadAbby) case under consideration by SCOTUS (see Scalia) this week when I wrote that. I have learned a few things.

The University of Texas has a policy of accepting the top 10% of in-state high school graduates. This accounted for 92% of the slots when Ms. Fisher was applying for admission. She was not in the top 10% of her class.

Her qualifications were mediocre at best: A GPA of 3.59 and SAT scores of 1180/1600.

So she was less than amazingly qualified and was fighting for one of the 8% of the remaining admission slots for non-top-10% applicants.

There is more though, which is a real kicker. Again, from the Salon article. There were:

168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year.

So if she had been admitted, they would have all had a case that she was stealing their slot.

It gets better*.

It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

Emphasis added.

Ms. Fisher is suing on the basis of those five black or Latino students who were admitted. They had worse grades, you see, so she deserved to get in. And was discriminated against solely on the fact that she wasn't black or Latina. Except 42 white students also were admitted with worse grades. So if anyone took her slot it is 42:5 THAT IT WAS A WHITE STUDENT.

And of course had she been offered admission, there were 168 individuals with the same claim against her that she is making now.

Reminder. This is not just one woman's disappointed whinging and viral YouTube video.

This case has wended its way all the way up to the highest court in the land and is being considered by our SCOTUS Justices.

She is the best possible plaintiff. Because the details of this case underscore how true it is that "fairness" in this country is that which only just barely allows the disadvantaged to draw (almost) even with the very lowest attaining members of the advantaged populations.
__
*worse

100 responses so far

A window on what is fair

Dec 08 2015 Published by under Anger

Apparently the SCOTUS is going to revisit an affirmative action case involving University admissions. I caught a small part of a NPR show on this, tuning in just in time to catch one of the opinion makers providing his analysis (around 37 min into the episode). It went something like this.

First, he noted in tones most disapproving, that "most of the students benefiting from affirmative action policies at elite universities are middle, or upper middle, class".

This is, of course, one of the great strategies of the anti-diversity crowd, not least of which because they managed to get the pusillanimous support for it out of the squishier pro-diversity types. "Oh, yes, we must agree that affirmative action is about demonstrated acute disadvantage for each individual applicant to University", is about the size of it. To be honest, I don't know if this guy on the radio was anti-diversity or one of these folks who has been hornswaggled by this particular anti-diversity tactic. It doesn't really matter because the result on the audience is the same.

Back to the story. Affirmative action is only for the most disadvantaged of the disadvantaged. Therefore, you see, if the beneficiaries of affirmative action policies are "middle to upper middle class", well affirmative action is clearly broken.

As a bit of an aside, notice this neat little conflation? Middle class with upper-middle class? It's bad enough that the concept of "middle class" is so huge and poorly defined that trying to claim members of the middle deserve no assistance in overcoming barriers to college admission is ridiculous. Oh no. We must roll this in together, seamlessly, with the upper-middle class. Because we know for damn sure that once you are in upper-middle, you deserve no help whatsoever. You have it made, baby.

So then, within a breath this guy says "....of course the white students are even richer" as barely an aside. Credit where due, at least he mentioned it. But AYFK? For whatever he meant by "elite Universities", the white population was richer than "middle to upper-middle".

Apple meet Orange. No matter how advantaged the beneficiary of affirmative action may be relative to the general population, he or she was still disadvantaged relative to the people at those elite Universities who were from the privileged groups. This is dismissed, however, as if it is barely relevant.

But wait, it gets better. He then immediately pivoted to "I don't think anyone thinks that Obama's children deserve affirmative action help".

JESUS.

Last I checked, Obama's salary was $400,000 per year and he gets, AFAIK, free room, much of his board and has a nice transportation allowance. Right? Plus, we know perfectly well that he and/or Michelle will make bank in the future from book royalties, speaking fees and the like. (Maybe even his SCOTUS salary? ....I crack myself up)

The Obama children are not middle class. They are not upper-middle class. They are lower rich.

But you see how this all works. It's a nice little sleight of hand and misdirection. We've moved the conversation from middle class African-Americans, or other disadvantaged ethnicities, to....the children of the President of the United States.

Clearly if Sasha and Malia don't need help then the child of a high school educated but stably employed and homeowning resident of Ferguson MO doesn't need help either.

The anti-diversity voices want to further advance their agenda on the back of a very pernicious perception.

In the US, it is considered fair if the very top echelon of the disadvantaged population succeeds at the level of the bottom slice of the advantaged distribution.

And if any individual of the top echelon of the disadvantaged population should happen to achieve up past the middle of the advantaged distribution? Well clearly that is unfair and evidence of reverse discrimination!

Stop shaking your heads, scientist Readers. We have this same problem in every aspect of our business as well. From graduate school admissions to faculty new-hires. From grant award to tenure. Onward it goes. Ethnic minorities, sure, but also women and people who trained in the wrong University. There are the advantaged and there are the disadvantaged. Meaning, that for the apples to apples comparison we are talking about those who would all-else-equal succeed similarly. But because all else is not equal, some have an easier time than others. Some achieve higher with the same effort and others achieve the same with less effort. Either way, it is most assuredly not fair.

Any time there is under-representation, you will find that any efforts to make things fairer are crippled by this misunderstanding of distributions and individual accomplishment.

It is fair , you see, if the top 10% of the disadvantaged sneak up just parallel with the third quartile of the advantaged. Anything more is reverse discrimination and totally unfair to the advantaged among us.

20 responses so far

Decency

Oct 06 2015 Published by under Anger

South Carolinans are suffering from torrential rains.

I feel sorry for them.

Well, some of them, anyway.

You see, it took no time at all to be reminded that most of the SC Congressional delegation voted against Federal relief aid during Hurricane Sandy.

Of course they are mostly Republicans.

Which means the majority of SC voters are voting Republican.

And the very essence of Republicanism is to greedily suck from the public for ones own benefit whilst denying any public benefit to anyone else.

This is not a decent way to behave.

So yeah. Let's check those voting records before sending in FEMA relief, eh? Let's hold Republicans true to their self-sufficient, non-taker, gub'mint hating beliefs.

The decent people could use a little extra. Let's focus on them.

17 responses so far

Backstabber? Really?

Sep 04 2015 Published by under Anger, Careerism, Conduct of Science

iBAM is pissed off!

A couple years ago I was applying for personal fellowships ...I talked to a junior groupleader (JG)...we brainstormed about what I would write in my fellowship. I wrote the fellowship and asked JG for feedback because they had experience with said fellowship. I submitted the fellowship and it got rejected. Twice. ....JG told me they were doing one of the experiments that I had proposed in my fellowship. And recently I saw that they had published the results. .......
What is the worst academic backstabbing you have experienced?

Look, I grasp that there are many situations of intellectual theft in this wide world of science.

But for every actual intellectual theft, there are scores of people who are deluded about their own unique special flower contribution and refuse to understand that many, many people probably had the same thoughts they did. People in your field read the same literature. They are interested in what you are interested in when it comes to understanding biology or whatever. How can you be shocked that someone else conducts the same experiments that you plan to conduct?

I have on more than one occasion read a grant proposal chock-a-block full of ideas that I've already thought up. Some of these never escaped the inside my head. Some were expressed to lab members or colleagues during conversations. Some were expressed in grant proposals, either submitted or left on the editing room floor, so to speak. Some of the ideas were of current interest, and some I'd dreamed up years before.

Maybe I have a lot of ideas about what science should be done next. Maybe more than most of you, I don't know. But I rather suspect that most of you also have way more thoughts about cool experiments to run than you can possibly get around to completing. Is it unfair if someone else completes a few of them?

And yeah. There have been cases where I have been unable to get a grant proposal on a given topic funded and lo and behold someone else later gets "my" grant to do the work I thought up...OUTRAGE! There must be a CONSPIRACY, maaang!

um. no.

It sometimes smarts. A lot. And can seem really, really unfair.

Look, I don't know the particulars of iBAM's case, but it doesn't generalize well, in my view. She "brainstormed with" this person. This person told her that they were doing the experiments. Is there maybe a wee hint of a chance that this person thought that the "brainstorming" session meant there was some co-ownership of ideas? That in mentioning the fact that they were starting to work on it this person thought they were giving fair warning to iBAM to assert some sort of involvement iF she chose?

The dangers of going overboard into the belief that the mere mention of a research plan or experiment to someone else means that they have to avoid working on that topic should be obvious. In this case, for example, iBAM didn't get the fellowship and eventually exited academic science. So perhaps those experiments would not have been completed if this sounding board person didn't do them. Or maybe they wouldn't have been done so soon.

And that would, presumably, be bad for science. After all, if you thought it was a good experiment to do, you should feel a little bit of dismay if that experiment never gets completed, right?

76 responses so far

Can you imagine the police treating your 14 year old daughter like this?

Jun 08 2015 Published by under Anger, General Politics

If you can't, you should probably think about that.

(3:04 in case the time stamped link doesn't work for you)

For additional context

UPDATE:

25 responses so far

Boys will be boys. (NSFW)

Mar 09 2015 Published by under Anger

context.

5 responses so far

Thought of the Day

Mar 05 2015 Published by under Anger, NIH Careerism, Tribe of Science

This is about the cognitive dissonance involved with realizing your part in a collective action.

It is about the result of a slowly evolving cultural hegemony.

It is about the tragedy of the commons and the emergent properties of systems that depend on the decisions of individual self-interested actors.

It is not all about Snidely Whiplash figures intentionally committing egregious, knowing acts of thievery and sabotage.

We need to be very clear about this or it devolves into useless fighting about personal responsibility for things that are not the direct result of highly specific individual acts.

20 responses so far

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