Archive for the 'Day in the life of DrugMonkey' category

I should really post something science related

Jul 28 2016 Published by under BlogBlather, Day in the life of DrugMonkey

Really I've been meaning to, Dear Reader.

I've been distracted by a couple of work related things.

But I do want to draw together a thought from the Democratic convention speeches this week and the profession of science.

We are stronger together. Science works best when it is collaborative...we all parrot this truthism at one time or another. And we do collaborate. Within our laboratories if nothing else.

There is also competition. No doubt, no doubt. Very pointed in some ways. We've talked about the long odds of making it through to the professor chair, of getting the grants funded and of getting the paper published in just the right journals.

It's tempting to go low.

Michelle Obama says she always goes high when they go low.

She's right, you know? In the short term it may cost you a bit. Missing that opportunity to do dirt to your professional competition may let them advance in some small way beyond you. Maybe a not so small way.

I'm convinced, however, that taking the high road tends to work out better in the long run.

My confidence in this was wavering a tiny little bit in recent times. It's nice to be reminded that people who act the ass eventually are going to pay a price. You can get by for a little while but eventually, eventually, you are going to run out of those willing to give you a benefit of the doubt. Run out of friends and supporters. Run out of collaborators.

Because when it comes right down to it there are many scientific collaborators out there to work with. If you develop a bad reputation, they will choose others.

It took until this week to see a full slate of unreserved admiration and respect for the political life of Hillary Clinton on display. To my recollection anyway. It took a long time for her. I don't know that she always took the high road but she sure didn't take many low ones, especially given the vitriol directed at her over the years.

So I'm not saying take the high road because it will lead to immediate recognition and reward. It may take some time. It may never occur.

But hey, at least you can look yourself in the mirror every day without flinching.

11 responses so far

Thought of the day 

Jul 15 2016 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey

I was joshing with the spouse about coups, Trump and the ready availability of pseudo-combat firearms today and a thought later occurred to me.

I'm actually pretty confident in the trigger pullers in my household.

Don't get me wrong, we're not a gun nut family- very likely I'm the only one who has so much as touched a firearm. But if they had to..... 

I was thinking about their respective ages and peers and what not and I'd pick them every time. 

I didn't know I had that particular confidence in my spouse and kids. 

Funny thought to occur. 

6 responses so far

A simple primer for those new to behavioral science assays

1) Behavior is plural

2) No behavioral assay is a simple readout of the function of your favorite nucleus, neuronal subpopulation, receptor subtype, intracellular protein or gene. 

9 responses so far

Today in Reviewer #3: Balanced vs Random Assignment

May 10 2016 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey, Science 101

In my world, when you are about to conduct a between-groups study you do what you can to ensure that there is nothing about the group assignment that might produce a result because of this assignment, rather than your Group treatment.

Let's say we are using the Hedgerow Dash model of BunnyHopping. If you test a population of 16 Bunnies for their speed, you are going to find some are faster and some are slower on a relatively consistent basis. So if you happen to put the 8 fastest ones in the Methamphetamine group and the 8 slowest ones in your Vehicle group, you are potentially going to have an apparent effect of Drug Treatment that is really associated with individual differences in Hedgerow Dash performance.

There are two basic ways to deal with this.

The first is random assignment from a relatively homogeneous pool of subjects. For example, you order all the Bunnies from the vendor in one large group and treat them all identically right up until you assign them to Groups. The idea is that you are unlikely to assign, by chance, Bunnies most likely to produce one particular category of outcome (independent of the treatment) into one Group and those destined for the opposite outcome in another Group.

The second is balanced assignment. For this, you are likely taking your homogeneous pool of Bunnies and testing them on a key variable or two. The individual differences that may potentially produce an apparent result where it doesn't exist can thereby be directly minimized. So perhaps you run a pre-test for assignment purposes. Maybe you use a loud noise as the stimulus instead of Coyote pee, or maybe you've found that Bobcat pee can work. Baddaboom, baddabing, you can rank your Bunnies on Hedgerow Dash speed and assign them to groups such that the starting mean is equivalent.

In my world of behavioral pharmacology, the random assignment approach is the baseline. If you don't at least do this, you had better have a good reason. Doing balanced assignment, I would assert, is generally considered even better. A cleaner and superior design leading to more clearly interpretable outcomes.

I am looking at a reviewer comment on one of our manuscripts with disbelief.

This person appears to think that random assignment would have been "surely" better than the balanced assignment we used. Because, you see, the Reviewer asserts that exposure to Bobcat pee must surely confound the response to Coyote pee. This is despite the fact that this is a repeated measures design in which Bunnies are tested daily for longitudinal changes in Hedgerow Dash performance. With Coyote pee. The Group variable you can think of as the time of day in which they were tested, Bunnies being crepuscular and all. The focus is on this Group variable, not the assay (i.e., longitudinal Dash performance changes). Prior literature has established clearly that there are large individual differences in Dash performance, particularly over time with repeated Coyote pee exposure. The rationale for good balancing of groups is overwhelming. And yet. And yet. This reviewer is certain that random assignment would have been better.

Some days, people. Some days.

3 responses so far

When will the cynicism stop, Doctor?

Apr 04 2016 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey

I am having an increasingly difficult time seeing the fresh faced and excited grad students presenting their posters as anything other than cannon fodder these days.

I do not like this one bit.

I've noticed something else...the one-generation older-than-me folks are looking really beat down.

I do not like this one bit.

34 responses so far

Thought of the Day

It's not ideal for your summary statement to show up whilst at a meeting attended by many of the people on the review panel.

16 responses so far

A message for the Twitteratti

Mar 17 2016 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey


I'm right here. On the blog.

Nothing is (seriously*) wrong with me.


*i.e., beyond the usual.

**and yes, I am touched by all y'all's concern for my well being. Thank you for that.

24 responses so far

On being ready to go, at all times

Mar 11 2016 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey

You have probably heard that a black protestor being escorted out of a Trump rally was punched by a Trump supporter.

I had a person of a certain visual appearance look at me just a little too long when I walked out of [a public service environment] today.

So I've been wondering.....

What proportion of your life, would you say, requires you to be ready to go when in public?

Now this may be mostly for the men, I don't know. The closest I assume that it comes in most of my female readers' experiences is the threat of a sexual attack in off hours in poorly populated areas.

How often do you think, "I might have to beat the shit out of this fucker right here, right now."?

Or, if you are of a slightly different personality than me, "I need to figure out how I'm getting the fuck out of here without injury, asap".

How often are you the stranger? The other? The person who looks, acts, assumed to be, the kind of person who some asshole, like these Trump supporters, feels perfectly willing to attack?

A few times ever? That one year you had to move to a new High School?

Occasionally, but mostly when you visit a certain kind of bar? or attend a certain kind of music concert?

Is it a part of you misbegotten early adulthood and you've moved past that?

Or is it a monthly or weekly sensation*, right up to this very day?

How does this affect the way you view the hatred that spews out of the mouth of right wing politicos and their more objectionable supporters?

*I sat for five minutes wondering if I should make this a main part of the post or let it emerge in the comments. I'm torn. So let's just include it: Does it matter whether you've ever actually had to defend yourself from some jacknut like the Trump fan in the video? Is the frequency of actual attack relevant to how you should feel? or do feel? Is it relevant to how other well-meaning people ("voters") around you should credit your experiences?

24 responses so far


You only get high up in gov bureacracy by being an unusually good liar.

Given this, words are of essentially zero value.

Actions are what confirm intent.

One response so far

A comprehensive guide to using social media to your advantage

1. Entertain yourself.

7 responses so far

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