“Peer-review is based on trust, but as the international scientific community grows, scientists won’t spend their careers in the small, trusted networks of known colleagues that earlier generations of researchers were used to. Journals and reviewers need to step up their efforts to check for misconduct, but inevitably, papers with major problems will get through. Crowd-sourced, post-publication review through social media is an effective, publicly open way for science to stay trustworthy.”
“It’s become fashionable in recent years to tout the notion that the language you speak affects the way you think, and even influences how you experience reality itself. It’s an attractive idea, and one that makes some visceral sense.” But linguist John McWhorter says it’s wrong, wrong, wrong, and he explains why in this Lexicon Valley podcast.
“The value-of-practice debate has reached a stalemate. Compiling results from 88 studies across a wide range of skills, it estimates that practice time explains about 20 percent to 25 percent of the difference in performance in music, sports and games like chess. In academics, the number is much lower — 4 percent — in part because it’s hard to assess the effect of previous knowledge, the authors wrote.”
“Think about how we all instinctively turned to artists to help interpret unthinkable events for us. It was our singers and musicians, our writers and poets that we, all of us everywhere, wanted to hear from. It was our artists that gave voice to our national agony and helped make the incomprehensible tolerable.”
“Parton’s skill at being many things to many people accounts for the diversity of her fan base, capacious enough to hold drag queens and the sorts of hard-core emotional supplicants depicted in the documentary For the Love of Dolly, as well as the more mainstream country fans who surrounded us at her parade, which kept going long after Parton had fled the scene.”
“We are all cartographic obsessives these days. It’s great in some ways, but it also feeds into the unhealthy situation in which if we don’t know exactly where we are and where everything else is in relationship to us, we start prodding our screens and thinking something is amiss. This is profoundly disempowering, for it suggests that without constant expert advice, we would all be driving in circles or off cliffs.”
“Of course, for many, academic philosophy proves a disappointment – an endless slog to publish, the tedium and heartache of departmental politics, and a dismal job market that tends to people to far-flung college towns, far away from family and friends. So what is a budding philosopher to do?” Quite a bit, actually.
“Over time, humans have learned how, under certain conditions, to sit still and give someone or something undivided attention. Such learning, though, runs counter to who we instinctively are. We are hardwired to pick up the slightest distraction in our environment and to move toward or away from that distraction. The popularity of events such as Wimbledon and the World Cup reminds us that most of us feel far more at home in stadium culture—getting up, moving around, making noise, attending off and on—than in sanctuary culture.”
“Considering the many challenges life has to offer, entertaining yourself with your own thoughts for a few minutes seems like one of the easier hurdles to overcome. … But it turns out that people find this assignment incredibly hard. And, according to new research, they’ll even resort to giving themselves electric shocks to keep themselves entertained.”
“You might suppose that a scientist motivated by a desire to discover facts and by a desire to achieve renown will do better work than a scientist motivated by just one of those desires. Surely two motives are better than one. But as we and our colleagues argue in a paper newly published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, instrumental motives are not always an asset and can actually be counterproductive to success.”
“Interestingly, about two-thirds of English-speakers are not first-language speakers of English. … What happens to a language when it becomes everybody’s? Shaped by the mouths of billions of non-native speakers, what will the English of the future look like? A look into the past can give us an idea. English is of course not the first language [to have been] learned by lots of non-natives. When languages spread, they also change. And it turns out, they do so in specific directions.”
“I have grown to feel that the greatest thing about driving is that, if I really need to get somewhere or really need to get away from somewhere, I can do it. Essential to that sense of security and power is that I am actually doing the driving. Now I imagine running out, jumping into the car, and having to call tech support.”
“Is Twee the right word for it, for the strangely persistent modern sensibility that fructifies in the props departments of Wes Anderson movies, tapers into the waxed mustache-ends of young Brooklynites on bicycles, and detonates in a yeasty whiff every time someone pops open a microbrewed beer? Well, it is now.”