Science Fraud and our retraction

You may be aware of the this recent incident of supposedly discovered fraud:

IN December, Science published a paper claiming that people could change their minds about same-sex marriage after talking for just 20 minutes with a gay person. It seemed too good to be true — and it was.

On Wednesday, the journal distanced itself from the study, after its accuracy was disputed, and one of the authors could not back up the findings.

We joined in on the initial enthusiasm for the reported research, and now we want to recognize that the results are disputed. The question remains, how do scientists with much to lose take the chances involved in publicly putting forth cooked data? The article linked to above offers an answer:

Economists like to say there are no bad people, just bad incentives. The incentives to publish today are corrupting the scientific literature and the media that covers it. Until those incentives change, we’ll all get fooled again.

A Columbia alumnae speaks up in response to “Pretty Little Liar” posters

Via Jezebel:

At this point, I should be used to seeing backlash against Emma Sulkowicz, but I still wasn’t fully prepared for what came this week: endless tittering of people around me in real life and in my social feeds saying they “weren’t sure” about Emma’s choice to carry her mattress to Columbia’s graduation; the insistence that Emma’s alleged assailant Paul Nungesser had been “proven innocent” by Columbia and exonerated by the NYPD; the posters someone put up around Columbia with Emma’s picture on them, calling her a “PRETTY LITTLE LIAR.”

Every time I read another version of this narrative—that Nungesser merely “picked the wrong friends,” that the complaints against him were a calculated vendetta—my stomach flopped. Don’t forget: before he appealed away the conviction, Paul Nungesser was found responsible for sexually assaulting a woman at Columbia. And I’m writing this because that woman was me.

. . . If you’re reading this and doubting Emma—if you’re reading this and doubting me—please ask yourself why I’m taking the time to write this. Ask yourself why I filed a complaint against someone I had considered a friendly acquaintance (before my assault). Ask yourself why four unrelated people have taken the time and energy to come forward and file complaints against him. Read Jon Krakauer’s Missoula. Get outside what happened on Columbia’s campus. Try to realize that our stories are everywhere, on every campus, and we’re not all activists like Emma or unreliable sources like Jackie. Some of us are quiet about our stories even if we’re completely sure.

And, after all, it’s safer to be quiet. The reason I’m writing this anonymously is because of what happens to people like Emma, who speak out. Their names are plastered on disgusting posters on their graduation day. They’re inundated with violent threats and graphic comments every time they log into their email and check their Facebook. They’re forever associated with something that happened to them; not their achievements or accomplishments or talents. When I was younger, I naively hoped maybe one day I’d write a book noteworthy enough to make it into The New York Times. The first time my words were printed in The Times, they were anonymous, and they were about someone who had sexually assaulted me. I’m glad I’ve made the decision to decline interviews and stay small and quiet, but, simultaneously, I’m so proud of Emma for showing her face and sending a message. She has a particular kind of strength that I do not, and that’s okay. Maybe by writing this and risking having my name out there—and realizing that telling my story is worth that risk—I’m getting a little stronger.

But even if you don’t believe me, I don’t care. I didn’t report him for you. I reported him because it was the right thing to do. And if I’ve protected even one person from him, it’s been worth it.

Letitia Meynell on the normalization of deviance and ethics curriculum

From Impact Ethics: “Professions and professional schools are acutely susceptible to the normalization of deviance and this susceptibility is amplified when professional ethics education is only in house,” says Letitia Meynell, an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Dalhousie University (regarding the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen case). “The answer is not to do away with in house ethics training for professionals but to recognize that not all ethics training should be done in house. Drawing on expertise from outside the professional schools for such training would not only enhance the currency and depth of ethics training in the professional schools, but may help to diffuse the attitudes that fuel the normalization of deviance.”

UK academics: Pension Consultation Ends TODAY!

If you haven’t yet, please go register your views here. One key feature of the proposed changes likely to be of interest to blog readers is the change from final salary to average salary as determination of pension level. Members of under-represented groups often have slower career advancement, so this change will be particularly damaging.

Symptoms of depression given letter grades

Josh Parsons (Oxford) has started a webpage in which he – following up on his previous work with flags – gives letter grades to the symptoms of depression. Parsons describes the project as follows:

I have suffered from depression on and off since 2012 and probably a lot longer. In 2012 I came under a lot of stress, had a meltdown worse than any I’d had before, at a time when I couldn’t afford to just take time off to deal with it myself, and went to see my doctor, then a psychiatrist, then a therapist, and ended up taking sick leave from my job, a course of anti-depressants andcognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

A standard thing people try to do to help deal with depression is “taming the black dog”. The idea is that you get comfy with the idea that whatever you feel, however nasty, is part of you. You own it, it doesn’t own you. Another thing, part of CBT, is teaching yourself that even the worst thing that might realistically happen is not the end of the world (once you have your head around that, you can stop believing that it will happen). This page is an attempt to do both of those.

A few years ago now I gave humourous letter grades to the world’s flags. The last time I came back up from a bout of depression, it suddenly seemed like a stroke of genius to do the same to my symptoms (see Hypomania below). I have not attempted to review every possible symptom. Mostly, depression is no barrel of laughs. But in retrospect some symptoms are quite funny. So I have just chosen a few choice picks.

Josh’s comments on depression are funny, humane, rich, and brave. (And if you haven’t read his page on flags, you really need to.) Thank you, Josh, for being willing to discuss these issues so openly.

Sexism in “Oxford Today”?

It’s the Oxford glossy; this one for Trinity Term. In the section “Common Room”, which features book essays and Reviews, all 13 reviews are about books by men. There is an essay about a book by a man and a woman.

In other news, the sun rose this morning.

“One Hundred Years of Fortitude”

The post title is also the title the NY Times gives to a piece about Carmen Herrera, one of the six artists who are “A very small sampling of the female artists now in their 70s, 80s and 90s we should have known about decades ago.”  The look at the six women is a wonderful and stunning interactive piece.

Carmen Herrera, 99, a regal Giacometti-thin woman with bone-white hair, could be the poster child for late-in-life recognition. Her work will be included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s much-anticipated show this month, inaugurating its new building at the foot of the High Line. There, a painting of hers — the diptych “Blanco y Verde,” 1959 — will hang for the first time alongside works by Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin and Jasper Johns, publicly granting her a status in the canon that — according to curators at several major institutions — should have been hers for years. She will be a centenarian this month. A documentary about her life, “The 100 Years Show,” made its festival premiere in April.

Her painting, Blanco y Verde:

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One could weep, but instead let us note that it is time we paid attention to the older women in philosophy who could be considered to be in comparable positions where they are “now in their 70s, 80s and 90s [and] we should have known about decades ago.”

So the first question is: what are the comparable positions?
Maybe next is: what should we do?