Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

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The Maximum Impact Factor Measure

I used to be the Editor-in-Chief of the American Naturalist, one of the oldest scientific journals in North America.  The American Naturalist published its first issue two years before Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species, and I think that AmNat, as it’s affectionately called, is the world’s best journal for papers in evolution (and ecology and behavior). 

Today, our Managing Editor, Trish Morse, brought to my attention some of the best evidence of AmNat‘s significance.  AmNat is number 113 on the list of sources most cited by the Oxford English Dictionary.  Only 6 other scientific publications are ahead of us on the list.  That seems like a much better measure of the importance of a scientific journal’s contribution to knowledge than Impact Factors or other so-called measures of importance. 

AmNat, at 113, is two ahead of Robert Burns (pretty impressive) at 115 and behind Ayenbite of Inwyt at 112. Who or what is Ayenbite of Inwyt you ask?  Look it up!

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A Great Man Honored

I think these two men have done a great job.  I don’t always agree, but you couldn’t find two finer men.

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A New Kitchen Table

Last April, we moved into a new house.  Before we moved, I ripped out all the carpet on the main floor of the new house and then installed hard maple flooring throughout.  It only took me 5 days to do 6 rooms.  

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Where Does It Say That Evolution Does Not Happen?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks back on Christmas Eve waiting for the service to start.  As I usually do to pass the time, I picked up the Bible (what else are you going to do in church?), and I had a revelation about what I work on – namely evolution.    

This revelation came to me in the form of a simple question.  Where in the Bible does it say that evolution does not happen?

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Do Scientists Really Need Certificates Of Participation Just To Do Their Jobs Now?

Today I was submitting a review of a manuscript to a British scientific journal.  This is a routine part of any scientist’s job.  Participating in the peer review system is probably the most important community activity that keeps science working.  Peer review is the best part of the scientific process.  

I went to the journal’s website to submit my review as always.  What startled and exacerbated me, and what sparked this post, was the first question I was asked at the submission website.  The journal wanted to know if I wanted my reviewing activity to be noted for all the world to see on Publons.  

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Words For These Times

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

George Washington, Farewell Address 1796

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The Other Adult In The Room

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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. 

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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!

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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. 

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