Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Page 2 of 14

The Other Adult In The Room

Share

The Best Statistical Software For A Scientist To Use

I am now planning the next offering of a Generalized Linear Mixed Models course that I sometimes teach to our graduate students.  I’m teaching the next offering next spring.  All our graduate students are clamoring for a course in R, and I am sure I’ll get much pressure to teach this course using R. 

Read More

Share

Valuable Advice About Editing And Teaching In General

Posted by The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, September 8, 2016

This is hugely valuable advice.  If one is to teach what students need to know, one really has to just simply do it!

Share

What If Everyone Was Carrying A Concealed Firearm?

I was talking to a friend today about gun control policies.  As a scientist, he was trying to think through how to formulate the problem of what is the optimal fraction of the American population that should be armed via conceal-carry permitting.  I should point out that my friend does not own a gun, and I believe his personal views are that the best fraction would be 0%.  However, he wants to analyze the problem as a scientist, because he knows his personal preferences do not decide public policy and may even not be correct.  I wish all our politicians had such an inquisitive mind and rational/analytical curiosity for applying the best techniques to deliberating about public policy. 

Read More

Share

Morality and Idealism Do Matter

The opening paragraph of Theodore Roosevelt’s book American Ideals: And Other Essays, Social and Political states the following:

In his noteworthy book on National Life and Character, Mr. Pearson says: ” The countrymen of Chatham and Wellington, of Washington and Lincoln, in short the citizens of every historic state, are richer by great deeds that have formed the national character, by winged words that have passed into current speech, by the examples of lives and labors consecrated to the service of the commonwealth.” In other words, every great nation owes to the men whose lives have formed part of its greatness not merely the material effect of what they did, not merely the laws they placed upon the statute books or the victories they won over armed foes, but also the immense but indefinable moral influence produced by their deeds and words themselves upon the national character. It would be difficult to exaggerate the material effects of the careers of Washington and of Lincoln upon the United States. Without Washington we should probably never have won our independence of the British crown, and we should almost certainly have failed to become a great nation, remaining instead a cluster of jangling little communities, drifting toward the type of government prevalent in Spanish America. Without Lincoln we might perhaps have failed to keep the political unity we had won; and even if, as is possible, we had kept it, both the struggle by which it was kept and the results of this struggle would have been so different that the effect upon our national history could not have failed to be profound. Yet the nation’s debt to these men is not confined to what it owes them for its material well-being, incalculable though this debt is. Beyond the fact that we are an independent and united people, with half a continent as our heritage, lies the fact that every American is richer by the heritage of the noble deeds and noble words of Washington and of Lincoln. Each of us who reads the Gettysburg speech or the second inaugural address of the greatest American of the nineteenth century, or who studies the long campaigns and lofty statesmanship of that other American who was even greater, cannot but feel within him that lift toward things higher and nobler which can never be bestowed by the enjoyment of mere material prosperity.

This is a fantastic statement about why character, moral example, and the art of language does matter in our political leaders.

Share

Did Hutchinson Think Niches Were Non-Interesting?

One of the foundational concepts in modern ecology is the formulation of the “niche” by G. Evelyn Hutchinson. Hutchinson defined his conception of the niche famously as an “N-dimensional hypervolume” of environmental variables that describe where a species can maintain a population.  You can find a (pirated) pdf of this seminal paper here or the Cold Spring Harbor site if your conscience is bothering you and want to pay for it because you don’t have a library subscription.

When I read this paper in graduate school, I was dumbfounded to find one of the most glaring typographical errors I had ever seen in the scientific literature.  In this paper, the plain text on the page says that the realized niches of co-occurring species are non-interesting.  

Read More

Share

These Are Two Real Americans!

Share

American Society of Naturalists Presidential Address 2016

Here’s the Presidential Address I gave at the 2016 American Society of Naturalists annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

 

Share

Are We Really In An Economic Apocalypse?

Given that the Republican Convention speakers last week all argued that the Obama Administration has destroyed the economy, I was curious what facts might exist to support such claims. As somebody who lives his life according to the creed “Show Me The Data”, I wanted to see for myself just how bad job growth has been during the Obama Administration. ( I didn’t want to hear some business reporter who never took a math or statistics class tell me.)

Read More

Share

I Miss Jon Stewart!

On the night of Donald J. Trump’s convention acceptance speeck, Jon Stewart was on Steven Colbert’s show.

He nails it on this one.

I’m also waiting for Sequel #1 to this in which he goes through all the people who called Trump a cancer (among other things) on the Republican Party but now are four-square behind him, and Sequel #2 in which he goes through the Republican platform from this convention and notes where it’s completely different from the policies that Trump is running on (let’s just start with cutting Medicare/Social Security, trade deals, and opposition to LGBTQ rights). I cannot imagine the degree of intellectual dissonance needed to say you solidly support Trump and not agree with absolutely any policy the man espouses (and forget about all the “textbook” racism). I’m still in the position of P.J. O’Rourke, who said (paraphrasing), “Hillary Clinton is wrong, but at least within normal parameters.”

Share

Page 2 of 14

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén