Assorted Links

Thanks to Hal Pashler and Robin Barooah.

5 Responses to “Assorted Links”

  1. Alex Chernavsky Says:

    I’m not the least surprised about the allegations against Stephen Jay Gould. Look at the vicious smear campaign he waged against his Harvard colleague, E. O. Wilson. About the best thing that can be said about Gould is that he occasionally wrote interesting essays for Natural History magazine.

  2. dearieme Says:

    Over the years I became increasingly aware of a problem with a particular line of interdisciplinary work. It often seemed, I guessed, to be refereed by people who were capable of spotting weaknesses in the part of the work they understood best but were prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the parts they didn’t. This, I suspect, led to ropey work being published, ropey workers being promoted, ropey grants being awarded. I’ve no reason to suppose that what was going on was crooked – not angels, perhaps, a few friendships and connections relied upon, maybe, but nothing (so far as I know or suspect) more.

    Whether this sort of thing does as much damage as fraud I have no way of knowing.

  3. garymar Says:

    dearieme,

    Interesting word, ‘ropey’. I looked it up on the OED and it’s listed as ‘British informal’.

    In a similar vein, I remember reading a philosopher’s critique of Toynbee’s idea of the rise and fall of civilizations. In my rough memory, the philosopher noted that, for example, the Egyptologists would say, “Toynbee’s view of Egyptian civilization is utter nonsense, but the rest of the book is admirable”; or the students of Eastern European history would say, “his ideas on Russia betray an utter lack of knowledge on the subject, but we were fascinated by his descriptions of other cultures”. Etcetera, etcetera.

    So if you lined up all the criticisms of those versed in their respective fields, you’d find very little left of his original thesis.

  4. by Says:

    Recently I was scheduling some recurring appointments to visit my relatives. For no real reason I could decide, I decided to visit my male relative in odd months and female in even. It was funny to see this link :)

  5. dearieme Says:

    @garymar: exactly!