Assorted Links

  • Genetics less important than claimed…again and again. The article’s html name says “human genetics successes and failures” but the article is almost all about failure.
  • Why I left (tenured) academia. “We shouldn’t expect [a college president] whose experience is in leading gigantic, dominant corporations to create an environment that rewards original, interdisciplinary, potentially disruptive research. Their previous success (such as it is) is from operating in an inherently conservative environment, running an organization that thrives in the status quo.” It isn’t just the college president. That such people are chosen as college presidents shows how little people at the top understand or value innovation.
  • Monitor Me. BBC TV show about high-tech self-monitoring. My self-monitoring is mostly low-tech, except for brain tests done with a laptop. My experience is that I needed to do everything right — good understanding of previous research, good experimental design, good measurement, good data analysis — to make progress. A talk by Larry Smarr, one of the people in the BBC show, supports this. Smarr has colon inflammation. His design, measurement and data analysis are excellent. However, he chose to test treatments (antibiotics, steroids) known to be poor. They didn’t solve the problem. It would have been wiser to try to figure what in the environment might be causing the problem. It certainly wasn’t not eating enough antibiotics.
  • Fecal self-banking

Thanks to Linda Stein.

5 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. Of tangential interest perhaps: I was recently moved to reread Frank Herbert’s Dune, where I ran across the following:
    “Kynes knew that highly organized research is guaranteed to produce nothing new.”
    The copyright of the book is 1965. Interesting that a science fiction writer had an insight back then that still escapes researchers today, nearly 50 years later…
    (And how scary to realize that that book is nearly 50 years old!)

    1. “Kynes knew that highly organized research is guaranteed to produce nothing new.”

      I wouldn’t go that far. I have learned very useful things from highly organized research. For example,

      1. A big time use survey found that Americans stayed up an hour later than people in 12 other countries. Also Americans watched TV an hour later. This suggested to me that TV could substitute for human contact in the control of when we sleep — a crucial step toward discovering the effect of morning faces on mood.

      2. A big survey found that people who have insomnia are much more likely to get depressed in the following years than people who don’t have insomnia. This too helped me discover the effect of morning faces on mood.

      I disagree that highly organized research can’t find something new; what is more true is that the researchers who do such research are unable to take advantage of the new information. They are too wedded to certain methods, theories and so on, that worked well in the old ecosystem — the one that doesn’t contain the new information.

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