Why Do We Test Things We Already Know?

When the results of new scientific or sociological studies are published, a common response is, “Why in the world did we waste money to study that?” Sometimes it’s because the topic seems so obscure as to have no obvious merit, though within its field it may give invaluable insight or could cast light on other problems in an unexpected way. Other times, the study is testing something that seems like common knowledge, and the results seemingly confirm what everyone knew all along. Why is it so important to perform this sort of research? Read More Why Do We Test Things We Already Know?

How Should We Balance Teaching and Research

A few days ago, an article by Richard Vedder on the lack of benefit given the costs of research was published at Bloomberg.com. In the article, Vedder argued that the benefits and quality of research conducted at many U.S. universities may be greatly overstated and that the ongoing push to limit teaching in order to emphasize research is hurting our students and our universities. Read More How Should We Balance Teaching and Research

Gender Bias in the Sciences

So sometimes when I talk about gender bias and sexism in academia, some people seem surprised. I don’t know if they bought into the notion that academia is some sort of hippy-dippy haven for everyone or what, but the surprise surprises me. More surprising are the people who deny that any sort of sexism or gender bias exists within academia (even with all of Joan Roughgarden’s writing on the subject). Welp, in a study published just last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS ““ say that 5 times fast for a giggle), researchers at Yale University found that if men and women had the exact same resume, men are more likely to get hired and to receive a higher starting salary. Read More Gender Bias in the Sciences

Researching by Gaslight

So this is the beginning of the third week of my Lenten write-a-novel-a-thon, and I am doing all right. I am five chapters and 7736 words in, though some of it is in no particular order. You can do this in a multi-part novel, I guess, since the second part flashes back to a period in the heroine’s past which helps to explain her behavior throughout the rest of the novel. Read More Researching by Gaslight

Science Shorts: Weather, and a Little Bit of the Human Mind

Lots of interesting science news has been making the rounds this week and I just couldn’t choose only one new study to focus on. So, I did what any normal over-achiever does (you all know what I’m talking about) and chose two of them (hm, just two? Maybe I’m not an overachiever). Now, let’s go from weather trends to the workings of the human mind. Read More Science Shorts: Weather, and a Little Bit of the Human Mind

Scientific Uncertainty

As the northern hemisphere enters winter, the number of jokes that people will make about the presence of global climate change is about to increase exponentially. It happens every year: some people see snow on the ground and immediately scoff at the idea of global warming. And every year, when faced with these jokes, I think to myself, “this is going to be a loooong winter.”   Read More Scientific Uncertainty

Model Organisms Don’t Smize

I’ve watched enough of America’s Next Top Model to know that “smizing,” or smiling with your eyes, is a crucial skill that all models must possess. Personally, I don’t really see the difference between smizing and “opening your eyes up real wide while doing funky eyebrow movements,” but that’s probably at least part of why the closest I get to models is model organisms. Read More Model Organisms Don’t Smize

Getting Into Graduate School: 101 ““ Part 2

This week we’re talking about extra-curricular research and activities in Grad School: 101. And really, I cannot emphasize enough just how important that first point is. Read More Getting Into Graduate School: 101 ““ Part 2