10 December 2020

Imagine a word ruled by scientists? No thanks

There’s a graphic on Instagram from August that started making the rounds on Twitter. It says, “imagine a world run by scientists instead of politicians.”

I do not like it.

I’m not showing the picture because I don’t think it deserves more eyeballs, but for the record, the people shown are: Lawrence Krauss, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris, Michiu Kaku, Richard Dawkins, and Leonard Susskind.

First, the image shows only men. That alone marks it as completely tone deaf.

Second, several of the people shown have amply demonstrated that they do not have leadership ability. Two were investigated for sexual misconduct. One was found guilty of sexual misconduct and took money from Jeffrey Epstein. Others are combative or flaky.

Third, the men (because yeah) chosen are mostly science communicators more than scientists. Sam Harris is a pop science author, not a active scientist. He’s done very little original science, ever. The others have stronger academic bona fides, but most are better known for being on television than publishing original research.

It’s so bad, I wonder if this image is supposed to be an ironic warning of the perils of science politicians. “Meet the new old men, same as the old old men, but with less experience.”

09 December 2020

Pick where you publish wisely

Saw a complaint about how PLOS had created predatory journals and made publication inaccessible through its article processing charge (APC) business model.

When PLOS ONE started, there was no guarantee the APC  model would work. It works because scientists choose to publish there, fully well aware of the costs.

It’s not a journal’s fault that scientists use them. Scientists have options. If you don't like a business model, don’t submit there. Then, convince colleagues.

08 December 2020

My resolve not to shoot the hostage is tested

I’ve written before about how refusing to review a paper because you don’t like a journal hurts authors more than editors or publishers. I called refusing to review “shooting the hostage.”

I am being sorely tested in my resolve not to shoot the hostage.

MDPI is a publisher already short of good will for their amateurish practices. Their president last week seems intend in burning any remaining good will by spouting pretty fascist-sounding rhetoric.

When I got an invitation to review yesterday, I legitimately couldn’t do it because I’m moving. But it was a lot easier to say “No” than it would have been otherwise.

07 December 2020

Lessons from bad movie makers

Still from P;an 9 from Outer Space

Ed Wood, Jr. is frequently described as “incompetent.”

He made films that are usually regarded as some of the worst ever made, like Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, and Plan 9 from Outer Space.

But he shipped.

He finished movies. He got them out so that people could see them.

In doing so, he accomplished more than people who say, “Maybe one day...”