Saturday, June 16, 2018

ToI's Analysis of Medical College Admissions in 2017

I am not thrilled to see the word "merit" being used so casually, but Rema Nagarajan's ToI news story captures the essence in its title: Money, not quota, dilutes merit in medical admissions:

It is not caste-based reservation but money that compromises merit in medical admissions.

This is obvious from the difference of about 140 marks, or close to 20 percentage points, between the average NEET scores of admissions to over 39,000 government-controlled seats and those to the over 17,000 management and NRI quota seats in private colleges where fees determine admission.

TOI analysed details of nearly 57,000 students admitted to 409 colleges last year. The average NEET score of students in government-controlled seats was 448 out of 720, while the quotas under private control averaged just 306.

Incidentally, the average score of students admitted under the SC quota in government colleges was 398 and the overall average for SC students in all colleges was 367, both much higher than the overall average for privately controlled seats.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Inder Verma Resigns

Meredith Wadman in Science [following up on her explosive report from six weeks ago]:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Zimbardo's Lie

From this week's must-read article: Ben Blum's The Lifespan of a Lie -- The most famous psychology study of all time was a sham. Why can’t we escape the Stanford Prison Experiment?:

Despite the Stanford prison experiment’s canonical status in intro psych classes around the country today, methodological criticism of it was swift and widespread in the years after it was conducted. Deviating from scientific protocol, Zimbardo and his students had published their first article about the experiment not in an academic journal of psychology but in The New York Times Magazine, sidestepping the usual peer review. Famed psychologist Erich Fromm, unaware that guards had been explicitly instructed to be “tough,” nonetheless opined that in light of the obvious pressures to abuse, what was most surprising about the experiment was how few guards did. “The authors believe it proves that the situation alone can within a few days transform normal people into abject, submissive individuals or into ruthless sadists,” Fromm wrote. “It seems to me that the experiment proves, if anything, rather the contrary.” Some scholars have argued that it wasn’t an experiment at all. Leon Festinger, the psychologist who pioneered the concept of cognitive dissonance, dismissed it as a “happening.”

A steady trickle of critiques have continued to emerge over the years, expanding the attack on the experiment to more technical issues around its methodology, such as demand characteristics, ecological validity, and selection bias. In 2005, Carlo Prescott, the San Quentin parolee who consulted on the experiment’s design, published an Op-Ed in The Stanford Daily entitled “The Lie of the Stanford Prison Experiment,” revealing that many of the guards’ techniques for tormenting prisoners had been taken from his own experience at San Quentin rather than having been invented by the participants. In another blow to the experiment’s scientific credibility, Haslam and Reicher’s attempted replication, in which guards received no coaching and prisoners were free to quit at any time, failed to reproduce Zimbardo’s findings. Far from breaking down under escalating abuse, prisoners banded together and won extra privileges from guards, who became increasingly passive and cowed. According to Reicher, Zimbardo did not take it well when they attempted to publish their findings in the British Journal of Social Psychology.

“We discovered that he was privately writing to editors to try to stop us getting published by claiming that we were fraudulent,” Reicher told me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018


Two links [hat tip to M. Madhan]:

  • Ben Guarino, Emily Rauhala and William Wan in The Washington Post: Health & Science China increasingly challenges American dominance of science

    The United States spends half a trillion dollars a year on scientific research — more than any other nation on Earth — but China has pulled into second place, with the European Union third and Japan a distant fourth.

    China is on track to surpass the United States by the end of this year, according to the National Science Board. In 2016, annual scientific publications from China outnumbered those from the United States for the first time.

    “There seems to be a sea change in how people are talking about Chinese science,” said Alanna Krolikowski, a Chinese science expert at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Foreign observers, many of whom were once condescending, now “are rather in awe at what the Chinese policies have accomplished.”

  • Dalmeet Singh Chawla in Nature Index: Italian scientists increase self-citations in response to promotion policy:

    Italian scientists have been citing themselves more often since a controversial law came into effect in 2010 demanding academics meet productivity thresholds to gain promotion. Economic and managerial engineering showed the greatest leap in self-citations from 2010 to 2014 of the four fields examined.