Archive for the 'Debate and Discussion' category

The Third Reviewer: Now with microbiology!

I previously mentioned a new website, The Third Reviewer, dedicated to online discussion of the neuroscience literature.

This brings me to a new internet creation: The Third Reviewer


The first thing you will notice is the list of journals which publish scientific articles in the neurosciences in the tabs at the top. The site grabs a Table of Contents feed and lists each article as a commentable link/entry. The comprehensive coverage problem is solved.

The site allows anonymous commenting. This is huge.

The site has now expanded from neuroscience to cover microbiology topics.

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The business of making unsubstantiated personal observations true

Feb 12 2010 Published by under Debate and Discussion

Poor Matt Nisbet takes his lumps around these parts because his academic field is spin, sorry framing. This is the process within professional communication whereby the strictest and most precise depiction of the current state of knowledge about objective reality is...undervalued. Undervalued relative to driving home whatever broader themes and ideas the communicator happens to favor. Undervalued relative to rounding up votes on "your side", regardless of why such voters may favor your position.
This annoys some scientists. The process of doing this in the news media or political setting annoys scientists to no end. Telling them that they need to start doing it themselves absolutely infuriates them.
Well, Nisbet has another version of his communication expert doucherocketry up today and it made me realize something. In this post, Nisbet declares war on that online discussion standby, the pseudonymous/anonymous commenter.

Over the next year, I have plans to invest in various content features at Framing Science, and one of the improvements I am looking forward to is an end to anonymous commenting.

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42 responses so far

Troubleshooting the NN protocol

Longtime blogfriend bill is laughing right about now. Or he will be soon.
I've been a considerable skeptic that Web2.0 has anything serious to offer the pursuit of science itself. Not a theological skeptic who can't see the potential, just one who doesn't think we're there yet and can't necessarily see the path to full Web2.0 / Science integration.
Nevertheless I see potential for the public outreach mission of Web2.0 adoption by scientists. Obviously- since I haven't stopped blogging yet.
Getting my feet wet allows me a little greater latitude and perspective in trying to think about what needs to be done to realize broader Web2.0 adoption in the daily conduct of science. And I have some ideas.
When you have an idea, the best thing to do is to figure out how to test it, right? To figure out what preliminary data you need, what literature is most relevant and what experts you need to consult. In the design stage, you can use all of these factors to check your assumptions. See where your gut might be leading you astray.
As you proceed along, you can try to see what parts of your protocol are working, what needs to be tweaked and what needs to be junked.
Like I said, I have some ideas. I share the broadest goals of what NPG is trying to accomplish in terms of using the more interactive internet technologies to enhance the conduct of science. I'm working on a couple of projects.
This is by way of lengthy preamble to why I would be gazing upon the cockup that is the Nature Network introspection exercise with some dismay.

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28 responses so far

If you aren't interested in reaching new people, why have a public blog?

Jan 29 2010 Published by under Blogging, Debate and Discussion

I'm elevating a comment I made in a prior thread. We're chatting about the Nature Network exercise in self-reflection about the insularity of their blog community. I made two points.
True that there is a population for any blog that should theoretically be in the audience but that departs because of the "tone". Allegedly I, for example, lost some readers because I extend latitude to certain antediluvian commenters. It should be a consideration.
What should also be a consideration is who is being excluded because they simply do not know you exist- individual blog, blog consortium or even the whole science blogosphere.

It was a good critique, but there are always going to be tradeoffs.I happen to think that one of the good features here at Sb is that we start with a very open approach from which individuals bloggers can tighten up if desired. This can be incredibly fine grained. I've had a commenter or three that others of my readers object to and want to know why I don't ban them. Other Sb blogs that I share readership with may have done so. To the extent that we overlap in blog-interest, readers can find the content without being exposed to the 'clownery of some of my commenters. Perhaps I lose a few voices, and I regret that, but I have to draw my own lines in making what I think of as my blog's tone what it is.
There are other types of commenters who pervade other Sb blogs that simply don't come around here and if they did express that type of behavior here would be moderated or banned. Yet I don't think Sb is the weaker for the Pharyngaloids, ERV's selfconsciously outre fanbois, Laden's "the real" neandertals or even Ed Brayton's libertardian halfthinkers. I think we are the stronger for it- as a collective blog enterprise.
There was a comment at that NN thread (see problem? I have no idea which blog it is on, see Munger's comment about individualizing the blogs) about writing for her own peeps and not giving a hang about traffic. Why have a public blog? There are more private social media and fora. More generally, why have the NN blogs visible to anyone other than those who register and login?
The very fact one engages in *public* blogging says that one is interested in reaching new people. Period. After that we are merely discussing whether you are doing a good job meeting performance goals...

Right? Why are you putting stuff out there for the entire Internet to see if you don't mean to reach people who might be interested in what you have to say, but you have no other way to reach them. In a word, perfect strangers. There are a plethora of controlled-access technologies that would serve the same purpose if all you were after was a private circle of friends.

91 responses so far

Go congratulate the Jets Nature Network!

The Nature Network of blogs announced reaching a 50,000 comment milestone today.

Yes, that's right, we've reached the impressive though totally arbitrary milestone of 50,000 comments on the blogs. Congratulations to Richard Grant, who unwittingly tipped the threshold with his remark 'Wintlito? Is that like Wintle Lite?' on this post.

As you know, I'm of the opinion that blogging is mostly about the comments so cheers to them!
A related Twitt from @NatNetNews asked:

Is Nature Network too insular? How would you like us to improve? Have your say in the comment thread:

So if you have any opinion on that, go comment.

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41 responses so far

A civil discussion with a small child

Jan 22 2010 Published by under Debate and Discussion, Parenthood

This morning I was having a discussion with one of my children about the wisdom and consequences of future actions. The way the conversation evolved cracked me up.
YHN: "No, you can't put the horsie in the bathtub, because it has batteries."
Child: "Yes, I can."
YHN: "No, see it will get wet and eventually corroded and ruined."
Child: "No, it won't."
YHN: "Yes, it will. Whatever gives you the idea that you can put this horsie in the bathtub?"
Child: "[Elder Sibling] said it was okay."
Right. This would be the [Elder Sibling] who Child opposes at just about every turn, particularly when it comes to [Elder Sibling] informing Child what Child may or may not do. With toys, generally.
Our conversation ran aimlessly for a good while after that with Child sticking firmly to the assertion that throwing a horsie in the bathtub was okay under the aegis of [Elder Sibling]'s authoritative permission*. The discussion was more or less amicable and The Man did not have to break out the tools of repression. I.e., Child was eventually distracted by something shiny.
Deploying a cherry-picked authority in support of what you already believe or want to do, to avoid engaging evidence and rationale (and yes, opposing authority) which you fear might contradict your pre-existing position or desire is apparently an early-formed trait.
No wonder we have such difficulty maturing past it.
*note that it is entirely possible that Child misunderstood what [Elder Sibling] had to say on the topic or that [Elder Sibling] had never ventured an opinion on the topic.

28 responses so far

Internet Beef and Civility

Jan 21 2010 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Debate and Discussion

"Where men congregate and mix their testosterone with other intoxicants".
HAHHAAHA, don't take what you read on the Intertoobz too seriously people.

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6 responses so far


Do you trust me?
or, Why Not?
Under what circumstances?
Within which limits?
Is it conditional?
or, Do you never think of it in terms of 'trust' exactly?

58 responses so far

A musical interlude

Jan 07 2010 Published by under Debate and Discussion, Music, Racist Idiots

Pause. Take a breath. Listen.

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Some historical readings for our defenders of the redneck faith

Jan 07 2010 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Debate and Discussion, Racist Idiots

BikeMonkey Post
I have been enjoying the protestations of those who don't like my conceptualization of "redneck" as a pejorative directed against bigoted attitudes. You can read them here as well as in the thread following Isis' graphical depiction provided for those with reading comprehension difficulties. There are a few more comments at Adventures in Ethics and Science. In this fine discussion, commenters D. C. Sessions and Isabel have been maintaining that "redneck" is really not much different than "nigger". Furthermore they've been trying to establish that, historically speaking, those who maintain the real power in the US have treated those they consider to be rednecks and niggers more or less equally badly.
I have some additional readings for your consideration of these assertions.

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82 responses so far

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