Roland Fryar's experiments in tech-enabled motivation:
A groundbreaking experiment that bombarded US high school students with inspiring text messages was found to be a success on all counts except one: it made no difference to how the students performed in school.
Fabio Rojas: How do graduate students actually choose their advisers?.
Science Insider: U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Human Gene Patents
Abstruse Goose: Alone in my room.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Filed under: Politics
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Bonus link: The Upside of Quitting from Freakonomics Radio.
Monday, June 10, 2013
An "Ajit joke" popular among college-goers of a certain era had the great villain saying this to one of his sidekicks:
Robert, dump this man in liquid oxygen. Liquid won't let him live, and oxygen won't let him die.
Here's a video of a version of this idea -- dumping a piece of burning charcoal in liquid oxygen:
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Update: Two more links: What We Don't Know About Spying on Citizens: Scarier Than What We Know by Bruce Schneier, and On whistleblowers and government threats of investigation by Glenn Greenwald.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
And this private university was established just four years ago!
The story has been unraveling over the last month or so. A quick chronology:
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Thursday, June 06, 2013
Last week, 7 million Brazilians participated in a two-days marathon exam to assess their secondary education achievements in language, natural sciences, humanities, mathematics and writing. This test, known as ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio, the National Exam of Secondary Education in English) serves in part as an entrance examination to all federal higher education institutions in the different parts of the country. In the past, each university had its own selection procedure.
Robin Wilson at CHE (from June 2012): Why Are Associate Professors So Unhappy?
Joyce Lau at India Ink: Can Job Training Trump a Degree?
Carola Binder: Macroeconomic Consequences of Allocation of Talent.
Noah Smith: What is "Derp"? The Answer is Technical. [Thanks to Gautam Menon for the pointer]
An interview with Prof. Daniel Kahneman at The Daily Beast.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Over at Lingua Franca, Geoffrey Pullum has a series of posts on "three developments elsewhere that seem to be discouraging ... development [of Natural Language Processing (NLP)]." Even if you, like me, are not particularly invested in this topic, there's a lot of interesting stuff about algorithms, such as Google Search and Google Translate, at the core of "developments elsewhere" that do a good-enough approximation of NLP's fully developed version (which is still far, far away).
All in all, a great example of popular science writing.
Here are the posts, in chronological order:
Friday, May 31, 2013
Basant Kumar Mohanty reports in The Telegraph on the fairly steep fall in the number of Indian students going abroad. Since the number includes both undergraduate and graduate students, it's not clear what this trend signifies -- for example, the fall in the number going to the US has shown relatively smaller decline than that for the UK and Australia. And most of the students who go to the US are grad students.
Anubhuti Vishnoi reports in The Indian Express: Faculty attrition hits IIT Rajasthan, 23 leave in 3 years.
Basant Kumar Mohanty in The Telegraph: IIM director turns down fresh term - Request to appoint Boston teacher. Prof. Pankaj Chandra of IIM-Bangalore has apparently "declined a government offer to reappoint him to the top post of the institute." The second half of the news story speculates about some of the possible reasons.
The Times of India reports that IIT-Hyderabad will receive a huge loan -- over 175 million US dollars! -- as development aid from Japan.
K.C. Deepika reports in The Hindu that the Bangalore University has suspended its 4-year BS program this year due to "declining student response and lack of infrastructure and faculty." [Noteworthy primarily because of our Institute's 4-year BS program (which is doing quite well, thank you), and also because of the birth pangs of a similar program at the Delhi University.]
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Computer Science Culture Clash -- John Regehr at Embedded in Academia.
Earning a PhD by studying a theory that we know is wrong -- Matt von Hippel in Ars Technica.
Did the metro help reduce air pollution in Delhi? -- Deepti Goel and Sonam Gupta at Ideas for India.
Giving Poor Kids Computers Does Nothing Whatsoever To Their Educational Outcomes -- Matt Yglesias at Moneybox.
And the result is absolutely, awesomely, entertainingly stunning: it receives a scathing response [this post has all the relevant links], and gets mocked by media watchers as well as by a rival newspaper.
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A not-entirely-unrelated link: I was struck by lightning yesterday -- and boy am I sore .
It's good to see some sensible recommendations [pdf] against the misuse and abuse of scientometrics. Lots of professional societies and academies have come together to fight this good fight.
The DORA website has links to extensive commentary from elsewhere. Here's an excerpt form DORA:
A number of themes run through these recommendations:
the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations;
the need to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published; and
the need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication (such as relaxing unnecessary limits on the number of words, figures, and references in articles, and exploring new indicators of significance and impact).
Another excerpt, this time from Bruce Albert's editorial in Science: Impact Factor Distortions:
The misuse of the journal impact factor is highly destructive, inviting a gaming of the metric that can bias journals against publishing important papers in fields (such as social sciences and ecology) that are much less cited than others (such as biomedicine). And it wastes the time of scientists by overloading highly cited journals such as Science with inappropriate submissions from researchers who are desperate to gain points from their evaluators.
But perhaps the most destructive result of any automated scoring of a researcher's quality is the "me-too science" that it encourages. [...]
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: The Dark Art of Racecraft.
Will Wilkinson in The Economist: The Richwine Affair.
Diego von Vacano at the Monkey Cage: IQ and the Nativist Movement.
Zack Beauchamp in Think Progress: The Inside Story of The Harvard Dissertation That Became Too Racist For Heritage.
[Update: Jason Richwine Responds On Race, IQ, And His Dissertation, and Beauchamp's reply.]
Monday, May 13, 2013
He’s probably the first person ever to lose his job because of his Harvard PhD dissertation.
The 'he' here is Jason Richwine, one of the authors of a recent Heritage Foundation report on immigration reform that has been getting some serious backlash.
Here's the quote again, with some context:
He’s probably the first person ever to lose his job because of his Harvard PhD dissertation: Jason Richwine, let go by the Heritage Foundation on Friday. The problem: he co-authored their position paper opposing immigration reform; and then somebody discovered that his PhD thesis at Harvard’s Kennedy School was dedicated to the proposition that Hispanics have lower IQs than white people. Not even the Heritage Foundation wanted to go there–so after two days trying to answer embarrassing questions, he left quietly.
But how did he get a Harvard PhD for work that even the Heritage Foundation wouldn’t accept?
Jon Wiener's post also expands a bit on the bad uses of IQ tests. Inside Higher Ed reports that the revelations about Richwine's thesis has led to quite a ruckus at Harvard itself, where student organizations have "[have questioned] the legitimacy of the dissertation that was awarded to Richwine".
Noah Smith at Noahpinion: If you get a PhD, get an economics PhD.
... [D]espite these caveats, the econ PhD still seems like quite a sweet deal to me. And compared to a hellish, soul-crushing, and economically dubious lab science PhD, econ seems like a slam dunk. There are very few such bargains left in the American labor market. Grab this one while it's still on the shelves. [Bold emphasis added]
Sabine Hossenfelder (aka Bee)at Back Reaction : What do "most physicists" work on?
Since coverage by the media is driven by popularity and not by relevance, one can expect such a skewed representation. It probably isn't much different in other areas of our lives. (Who actually wears those wacky clothes that fashion designers celebrate?) What bothers me much more than the skewed selection of topics is how their relevance is misrepresented even in these articles. I must have read hundreds of times that "many physicists" believe this or that, while in reality most physicists couldn't care less and probably have no opinion whatsoever.
Nathan Yau: Length of the Average Dissertation.