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[2 Feb 2017 | 3 Comments | ]

My normal practice is that nothing posted here has been seen or vetted by others. This post is a departure from that because I think it is important enough to justify whatever extra reach I can give it. This text, which has just been sent out to FORCE11 Members by email, was seen by the FORCE11 Board of Directors and the linked statement was approved by a board vote.
Dear Colleagues
Re: FORCE11 Board of Directors Statement on Restrictions to Immigration
FORCE11 works towards the goal of being a global platform that brings communities together …

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[1 Feb 2017 | Comments Off on Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Man | ]

 
This is the first draft of the second chapter of a book that I’m starting to work on. The initial draft of the first chapter is also posted here. My recent post on evolution was a first pass at exploring some of the ideas needed for later chapters. It’s 5,476 words incidentally so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I don’t think I would like to meet myself as a twenty year old. I was arrogant, sure of myself, concerned with where I was going. Of course all of this was …

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[29 Jan 2017 | 8 Comments | ]

It’s been a big weekend for poorly designed blacklists. But prior to this another blacklist was also a significant discussion. Beall’s list of so-called “Predatory” journals and publishers vanished from the web around a week ago. There is still not explanation for why, but the most obvious candidate is that legal action, threatened or real, was the cause of it being removed. Since it disappeared many listservs and groups have been asking what should be done? My answer is pretty simple. Absolutely nothing.
It won’t surprise anyone that I’ve never been …

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[4 Jan 2017 | Comments Off on Transmission and mediation of knowledge | ]
Transmission and mediation of knowledge

There’s an article doing the rounds today about public understanding and rejection of experts and expertise. It was discussed in an article in the THES late last year (which ironically I haven’t read). I recommend reading the original article by Scharrer and co-workers, not least because the article itself is about how reading lay summaries can lead to a discounting of expertise. A lot of the reaction seems to be driven by two things. The first is a line in the introduction of the paper that the authors “share the normative position taken by …

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[3 Jan 2017 | One Comment | ]

This post is aiming to get down some thoughts around how the superset of evolutionary models can be framed. It’s almost certainly work that has been done somewhere before but I’m struggling to find it so it seemed useful to lay out what I’m looking for. 
Evolutionary models are extraordinarily powerful, in part because they are extremely flexible. At their worst they are tautologies – the criticism of “survival of the fittest” as an idea is well founded even if it’s description of Darwinism is not – but at their best …

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[4 Dec 2016 | Comments Off on Telling a story… | ]

This is the first pass at an introductory chapter for a book I’ve had in my head to work on for a long time. The idea is that it relates some of personal history shifting from my grounding science towards the humanities, while interleaving this with a survey of the theoretical work that develops those different perspectives. This is just a first draft written on a Sunday afternoon. Comments, as always, welcome.
“As a patient I struggle to relate to survival curves…”
This is a book about narratives, perspectives, and knowledge. It’s …

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[20 Nov 2016 | Comments Off on Darkness/Dream | ]

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went— and came, and brought no day
I have a dream…
I have a dream that one day this Nation will rise up
And live out the true meaning of the creed,
“We hold these truths to be self evident,
That all men are created equal”
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all …

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[15 Nov 2016 | Comments Off on First steps… | ]

Amongst all the hot takes, the disbelief and the angst the question many of us are asking is what to actually do. I don’t have answers to that question, or rather I have lots of answers and no clarity as to which to choose. An inventory of resources reveals this blog, a substantial, if not massive, social media following on Twitter and some degree of influence associated with that. And money and the network of influence that goes with being moderately affluent and middle class. Not the 1% but definitely …

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[13 Nov 2016 | 2 Comments | ]

Like many people over the past week, and months, I’ve had some cause to reflect on what it is I do, and why. A lot of that circles around an issue that’s been troubling me for a while, how do you simultaneously acknowledge a personal and historical failure to act and credibly and coherently move to change that. How can I know when to challenge and when to shut up and listen – because its not always immediately obvious. There is perhaps a greater risk of challenging when it is …

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[8 Nov 2016 | 4 Comments | ]

Following one of “those” conversations on twitter, the ones where the 140 character limit just isn’t enough it seemed worth writing up a quick post. It’s that or follow the US election after all…
Richard Sever of Cold Spring Harbour Press posed the following question on:
Regardless of access, should there be a conversation about whether CC BY is the most appropriate license for images of patients? https://t.co/V3XpQ9jZSp
— Richard Sever (@cshperspectives) November 8, 2016

…to which my answer was:
@cshperspectives No, if an image shouldn't be distributed we need more granular upstream access controls and …